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What Moving the Tokyo Olympics Means for the NBA and Team USA

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On Tuesday, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were officially postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

For USA Basketball, postponing the Games means that the men’s and women’s national teams will have to wait another year to defend the gold medals won in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The men’s national team just finished seventh at the FIBA ​​World Cup in China last year. Now we will have to wait to avenge this disappointment, although who will be on the team when it tries to do so is just one of the many questions raised by Tuesday’s announcement.

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Could the Olympics and the NBA season now conflict?

Yes. Japan and the International Olympic Committee are unsure of the date of the Tokyo Olympics. Although the summer of 2021 remains an important possibility, the Games could move earlier in the 2021 calendar, perhaps in the spring.

Additionally, Commissioner Adam Silver said last week that the NBA schedule may change – perhaps the NBA schedule may move forward.

Because of these potential changes, the Olympics and the NBA season could run almost simultaneously.


What will happen to Team USA’s roster?

The list and the selection pool are constantly evolving. USA Basketball named 44 finalists for the Olympic roster earlier this year and planned to select a team of 12 players from this group in late June or early July, without further testing.

The NBA has announced that due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the 2019-2020 season will be suspended as of March 12.

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Now that the preliminary list is likely to be revised or deleted, and the process will start again once there is a new date for the Tokyo Games.

There was keen interest among veteran stars – including double Olympic gold medalist LeBron James, who will turn 36 before next year, and Stephen Curry, who has yet to compete in the Olympics – to play for the team this summer, but everyone’s priorities have been reset.

Some players may be able to recover and compete due to the postponement, including 2016 gold medalist Kyrie Irving and double gold medalist Kevin Durant.


Is it possible that the NBA cannot send its best players?

Yes. Even if the Olympics and the NBA season are not in direct conflict, players could end up on a grueling 12 to 15 month schedule that could include cutbacks for the rest of the 2019-2020 season and then play the 2020 season. -21 on a chronology tighter than normal.

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For the best players who usually have long playoffs, especially older players, this could have an impact on interest. For example, Chris Paul will be 36, Curry will be 33, and James Harden and Russell Westbrook will be 32 by fall 2021. Durant will be almost 33 years old.

On the other hand, many of the best young players in the league, including Zion Williamson, Ja Morant, Trae Young, De’Aaron Fox and others, have been excluded from the roster of 44 players. If some veterans don’t play, it could give young stars the opportunity to represent the American team.

With the university basketball calendar likely to change – the NCAA has already canceled this season and plans to start next season normally – it is possible that the best college players may also be recruited.


What’s going on with Gregg Popovich? Will he remain the coach of the American team?

There was some uncertainty as to whether Popovich would coach the San Antonio Spurs after the 2019-20 NBA season – some speculating that he would finish the NBA season, coach the Olympic team and leave at sunset.

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Team USA general manager Jerry Colangelo told ESPN on Tuesday that he and Popovich will stay with the program during the Tokyo Games. Colangelo previously stated that 2020 would be his last year with USA Basketball.

It is no surprise that Popovich wants to continue coaching. Popovich is passionate about this work, having spent hours in this position in recent years. Given the team’s miserable seventh place in the World Cup last year, it’s hard to believe that Popovich would want this to be his only performance as a national team coach.


Which countries could benefit from a delay? Which countries could suffer?

This delay could benefit Team Canada, which had not yet qualified for the Olympic Games. The Canadians were scheduled to hold a qualifying tournament in June – a tournament they probably would have been asked to win. But this event was in danger of being canceled due to coronavirus problems. In this scenario, the remaining Olympic spots would have been allocated via the FIBA ​​World Ranking – and Canada, currently ranked 21st, would not have qualified.

In addition, the Canadians could potentially have several players – including Tristan Thompson (free agency) and Dwight Powell (torn Achilles) – to play next summer which they would not have had at their disposal this year.

One team that could suffer is Australia. A serious contender for their very first medal, the Australians have an older team led by veteran Andrew Bogut and guards Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova. The delay will make them even older. But one positive could be the improvement in the health of star Ben Simmons. He had been sidelined due to a back injury before the world outage, and a one-year delay could give him enough time to fully remedy the problem.

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