NEW YORK — While he was in Salt Lake City last week, Kobe Bryant divulged that he will not pursue a spot on the 2016 Olympics team as he mulled it over earlier this season.
"I think it’s the young guys’ turn to go and play and perform," Bryant said. "I’ve been fortunate enough to win two gold medals. So, I’ve had my moment. I think it’s important for them to go ahead and play. I’ll watch from afar, support from afar."
One guy he might be watching and supporting from afar: Gordon Hayward.
USA Basketball announced this week that the Jazz small forward is among 30 American players who have made the cut to be considered for the Rio Games in Brazil this summer.
"It’s been a goal of mine and something I've been working towards and putting in the time, going in the summers," Hayward said. "(They) still have to get it down to 12, but it’s definitely good to be one of the finalists."
Hayward has been involved with Team USA in one form or another almost every year since he helped the country's team win gold at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in New Zealand in 2009.
In recent years, Hayward has spent part of most summers participating in training camps with USA Basketball in Las Vegas. In 2014, Hayward was one of the final cuts before World Cup action. He returned for another national minicamp in 2015.
"Hopefully, it just showed the coaches and the staff at USA Basketball that I was dedicated and could be somebody who could really contribute in a positive way to their team," Hayward said. "It’s 30 great players and whatever they do I’m sure it will be fine."
For the second straight year, injured Jazz power forward Derrick Favors did not make the cut. Former Weber State star Damian Lillard, who had a falling out with USA Basketball last summer, didn't receive an invitation, either.
The 30 finalists include: LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Harrison Barnes, Bradley Beal, Jimmy Butler, Mike Conley, DeMarcus Cousins, Steph Curry, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Andre Drummond, Kevin Durant, Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay, Paul George, Draymond Green, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Gordon Hayward, Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, DeAndre Jordan, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Klay Thompson, John Wall and Russell Westbrook.
BOOKER'S BACK: Power forward Trevor Booker laughed when asked how it felt to be back with the team after being briefly sidelined because of a head injury. He had to go through the NBA's concussion protocol before returning Monday.
"I only missed one game," he said, smiling. "But it feels great to be back."
Booker remembers getting clocked in the face by Kings star DeMarcus Cousins last Thursday, and he recalls nearly falling down after the hit happened.
"I was out of it for a second," he said, "but I came back once I got back to the locker room. I remember getting smacked and stumbling."
Booker, who scored 12 points in the Jazz's double-OT loss in Charlotte on Monday, doesn't hold any ill will toward Cousins, who checked on Booker at the time the incident happened.
"It was an accident," he said. "I don't think he would do that on purpose. He’s a homey. ... I watched the replay. If he didn't like me, he would’ve kept going."
JAZZ NOTES: Derrick Favors is listed as doubtful for Wednesday's game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. ... The Jazz won last year's contest at New York on a buzzer-beating shot by Trey Burke. ... Knicks rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis is questionable for this game because of a sore right foot. The 7-foot-3 center had only four points in 13 minutes during the Jazz's 106-85 blowout win in Utah on Dec. 9. ... The Jazz did not practice on Tuesday after staying the night in Charlotte following the 124-119 2OT loss.