As Argentina’s Olympic medal hopes fade, the chances of Luca Vildoza getting summer reps with the New York Knicks are increasing.
Argentina dropped its second straight game — an 81-71 loss to Spain on Thursday in a rematch of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Finals.
The loss put the Argentines in a precarious situation. They have to win big against host Japan in their final group stage game and hope they end up with one of the top two third-place records.
Vildoza didn’t start against Spain but played the bulk of his minutes in the second half.
The 25-year old Vildoza finished with five points in 16 minutes as Denver Nuggets’ point guard Facundo Campazzo’s backup. He struggled from the field (2 of 6), missing five of his six three-point attempts. But he added two rebounds and two assists, including a nice pick and roll action with the ageless Luis Scola that ended with an open three-pointer cutting Spain’s lead to a single-digit.
Here’s a glimpse of Knicks guard Luca Vildoza’s play vs. Spain — his lone 3 pointer, 2 assists including a nice PnR with Scola, some slips on D, missed 3 including an airball.
5 PTS 2-6 FGs 1-5 3s 2 REBS 2 ASTS 1 TO +/- -2 16 MINS pic.twitter.com/u2ZsdPDSBG
— alder almo (@alderalmo) July 29, 2021
Vildoza had 11 points, five assists, three rebounds, and three steals in Argentina’s opening loss to Slovenia. In two Olympic games thus far, he averages 8.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals. But he’s only shooting 35.7 percent from the field and, worse, only hit 1 of 8 three-pointers so far.
Argentina plays Japan on Sunday, and a loss would automatically eliminate them from contention, giving Vildoza a whole week before making his debut with the Knicks in the NBA Summer League. The Knicks will open their Summer League campaign against the Toronto Raptors on Aug. 8 (See the full Knicks schedule here).
The Knicks will use the Summer League games and the training camp to evaluate Vildoza’s play and fit with their roster before they guarantee his salary next season. Vildoza signed a partially guaranteed four-year, $13.6 million deal last May.
Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo