Grant Hill explains why Team USA tabbed Derrick White over Jaylen Brown – NBC Sports Boston

LAS VEGAS — After Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown appeared to express some frustration with being ignored for an open roster spot on Team USA, managing director Grant Hill did his best to explain Wednesday why Brown’s teammate Derrick White was the ideal fit to replace an ailing Kawhi Leonard.

Hill also pushed back on any suggestion that Team USA sponsor Nike, which Brown has previously criticized, played any part in the decision.

“Well, for a good portion of my career, I wore FILA — that was supposed to be a joke,” deadpanned Hill. He later added, “Whatever theories that might be out there, they’re just that.”

In between, he detailed the process of targeting a replacement just days before Team USA heads overseas in a ramp to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

“You have to build a team,” said Hill. “And one of the hardest things is leaving people off the roster that I’m a fan of, that I look forward to watching throughout the season, throughout the playoffs. Guys who’ve been Finals MVP, guys who have been a part of the program, guys who’ve won gold medals. Guys who I respect, admire and enjoy watching.

“But the responsibility that I have is to put together a team and a team that complements each other.”

Hill heaped praise on White’s fit.

“One of the many things that I really love about Derrick, and particularly with this team, is I don’t feel like his role changes much with our team, from what he does with the Celtics,” said Hill. “He plays alongside two incredibly great young players in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

“This setting is hard when you come in and you have to sort of — you’re the center of your universe and now you have to establish a role and might be different than what you have to do with your team. And so to have someone who can come in and play off of guys, be complementary to some others, but then also stand out and be a dynamite defensive player and knock down shots — just impact winning.”

Hill said he reached out to White on Tuesday night, and after White checked with his family, he committed to joining the Olympic squad.

White spent Wednesday at his youth basketball camps in Colorado. He expects to meet up with the team before it treks to Abu Dhabi for two exhibitions on July 15 and 17 against Serbia and South Sudan, respectively.

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