Josh Hart was the lone Team USA player who didn’t see action in the Americans’ lopsided win over Puerto Rico on Monday, and his absence was for business reasons.
The Knicks and Hart are nearing agreement on a four-year, $81 million contract extension, multiple sources tell The Athletic.
USA Basketball said Hart sat from the team’s 117-74 win due to “rest,” but beginning Wednesday, Hart can sign a contract extension with the New York Knicks.
“No comment, other than to say he is going to play a big role for our team,” Team USA coach Steve Kerr told The Athletic. “He had a great camp. Shouldn’t be any issues from here and he’ll be ready to go.”
A USAB source indicated there was nothing wrong physically with Hart, nor was he under any discipline for behavior Monday, further indicating his absence was related to his contract status in New York.
Hart already picked up the $12.9 million option on his contract with New York for this season and can sign a four-year extension worth up to $81 million Wednesday. The Americans arrived in Malaga, Spain, a beach community on the Spanish southern coast, where they will begin practice Thursday and play exhibition games Saturday against Slovenia and Sunday against Spain.
With an extension coming, Josh Hart’s offseason approach is anything but traditional
The FIBA World Cup starts for Team USA on Aug. 26 in the Philippines against New Zealand.
Hart, 28, averaged 9.8 points last season. He is one of two Knicks (Jalen Brunson) and three former Villanova Wildcats (Brunson, Mikal Bridges) on the USA roster, and during training camp in Las Vegas expressed interest in a contract extension in New York.
Kerr used Brunson, Bridges, Anthony Edwards, Brandon Ingram, and Jaren Jackson Jr. as starters against Puerto Rico. The next five were Tyrese Haliburton, Austin Reaves, Bobby Portis, Paolo Banchero, and Cam Johnson.
It’s difficult to determine where in the rotation Hart would carve out regular minutes, though he was praised by teammates for his effort and intensity at camp and could be used as a defensive stopper.
Brunson and Haliburton have dominated as point guards and Edwards and Reaves have been steady off the ball. Brunson posted a double-double against Puerto Rico, Haliburton had a team-high 12 assists, Edwards (and Johnson) led the team with 15 points, and Reaves contributed nine points and four assists.
(Photo: Brad Penner / USA Today)