USA Basketball may face roster challenges for 2021

AP – Knowing when the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics will be solves one problem for USA Basketball.

And it creates a few others.

Let’s assume that the 2020-21 NBA season is over by next July, a premise that also assumes some sort of normalcy returns to the sports world and that the global coronavirus pandemic slows to the point where games can be played again. That would also mean that NBA players and coaches would be available, schedule-wise, to participate in the Tokyo Olympics next summer as planned. That’s good news. That is, until free agency is added to the equation.

The NBA summer of 2021 is supposed to be another free agent extravaganza, one where plenty of the league’s biggest names and top USA Basketball candidates like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Chris Paul, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and more could be on the market. This summer would have been so much easier for USA Basketball from that standpoint, with Anthony Davis one of the few big-name stars who could become free agents when this season ends.

United States (US) coach Gregg Popovich and managing director Jerry Colangelo would have had probably anyone they wanted this summer.

Next summer, that might be more of a challenge. The Olympics are now set to start on July 23, 2021. That means training camp, in theory, would start around July 3 or 4, right around what could be the peak of the free-agent shopping period.

This has been an issue before. Deron Williams couldn’t participate in contact portions of practice with the 2012 US Olympic team during its training camp in Las Vegas until he signed his new contract with the Brooklyn Nets. Training camp started before the moratorium on player signings ended that summer, so the Americans and Williams were in a delicate situation. He signed the deal on an iPad at the first possible moment, got on the court the next day and everything was fine.