How Olympic Postponement May Impact NBA, Team USA

Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday that the 2020 Olympics have been postponed until sometime in 2021. As a result, the NBA no longer has to consider the possibility of overlapping with the Games if the league resume its 2019/20 season this summer.

However, the potential dates for the 2020/21 NBA season and the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics remain very much up in the air. As such, there’s no guarantee that we’ll see the ’20/21 campaign end in June and the Olympics begin on July 24, which was the plan for this year before the coronavirus crisis worsened.

Here’s what we know so far about the impact the Olympic postponement might have on the NBA and Team USA specifically:

  • USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and head coach Gregg Popovich had only been committed to the program through 2020, but that commitment will now extend to 2021, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst confirms. “We’re all-in and we’re committed,” Colangelo said. “It’s important to deal with the unknowns and this virus. This too shall pass, and we’ll be back for everyone’s well-being.”
  • Within that Windhorst story, Colangelo says USA Basketball will adjust if NBA players aren’t available for the rescheduled Olympics, but points out that changing the window for the NBA season or the Olympics would be a significant undertaking. “Changing the window for the NBA is easier said than done. There’s a lot of logistics and contracts to deal with,” Colangelo said. “Same for the Olympics. You have to assume it will be around the same dates (in 2021).”
  • As Windhorst and Tim Bontemps of ESPN note in a Q&A on the rescheduled Olympics, it’s possible Team USA will no longer be able to send its top players as a result of the postponement. However, it’s also possible that players like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving – who may not have been ready to go for the 2020 Games – will be healthy and available to participate by the time USA Basketball finalizes its roster in 2021.
  • Joe Ingles, who will represent Australia in the Tokyo Olympics, said he’d be disappointed if a schedule conflict prevent him from playing for the Boomers, as Joe Vardon of The Athletic relays. “I do understand that the NBA and the Utah Jazz pay my salary and it’s really good money and I’m obviously obligated to be here (in the NBA),” Ingles said. “I absolutely love playing for Australia and would do anything to keep playing for Australia, representing my country. We obviously don’t really know what that looks like yet. I hope (the NBA season and the Olympics) don’t clash.”

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