USA Basketball Rumors
LeBron James has made it known to top officials at USA Basketball that he wants to play in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, but the uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 NBA season has made planning next to impossible. “I was told he wants to plan on being able to play, but no one can totally commit under these circumstances,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told BasketballNews.com on Thursday.
“If the [NBA] season conflicts with the Olympics, I might have 14 non-playoff teams to choose from, but then other players will become available as the NBA playoffs progress,” Colangelo said. “The problem is that the ICO has a rule mandating an early submission of a 12-man roster. But with a pandemic, the hope would be that you’ve got to set aside outdated rules. I assume people will be reasonable and come up with some kind of a program that works.”
Mark Murphy: Kemba Walker on why he’s on knee-related minutes restriction now: “I had a long summer playing USA basketball. Free agency, everything. Just everything. It was a different year for me. Coming in here, coming into Boston, my offseason was a lot different actually last summer.”
Wall has participated in camps for Team USA, but has never represented them on the Olympic stage. In fact, the Wizards/Bullets franchise has never had an active player on the Olympic roster. “Definitely,” Wall told Marc Spears when asked if he was interested. “When you put that Red, White and Blue on, you’re representing your country. It doesn’t matter if ‘Wall’ is on the back or whatever name is on the back, I want to represent my country. I know how much this country means to me and I would definitely love to have an opportunity to play for it.”
With the next NBA season not expected to start until at least Dec. 1, that calls into some serious question whether that could overlap with Olympic qualifying tournaments that some nations will need to endure in June 2021 and the Tokyo Games themselves the following month. And Kerr, who is slated to be an assistant under San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich for USA Basketball in Tokyo, said Tuesday that he doesn’t have any idea how the schedule will work. “Believe it or not, I haven’t had a single conversation with Pop about that,” Kerr said. “And the reason is because we don’t know. We’ve been talking almost daily now for the last couple of weeks and before that we were speaking once every few weeks. So, we haven’t even had a single conversation because there’s nothing to report.”
But one way the NBA could alleviate the potential for an Olympic problem is to get away from the player-friendlier scheduling models used in recent seasons that greatly lowered back-to-backs and eliminated the dreaded stretches of four games in five nights. If the league did that, it could buy some time and possibly make the Olympics fit on some player and coach schedules. “They’ve talked to us on our team calls that it might be a condensed schedule next year, more so than in the past,” said Atlanta general manager Travis Schlenk, whose coach — Lloyd Pierce — is also scheduled to be a USA Basketball assistant next summer along with Kerr and Villanova’s Jay Wright.