How Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton will join Team USA at the Olympics after NBA Finals
The U.S. men’s basketball team’s road to the 2021 Olympics has been a bumpy one.
Team USA set off alarm bells with losses to Nigeria and Australia in its first two exhibition games. Head coach Gregg Popovich then found out Bradley Beal (health and safety protocols) and Kevin Love (injury recovery) were forced to withdraw, and now Zach LaVine’s status is up in the air. Team USA hopped on its Monday flight to Tokyo with just eight players.
Reinforcements could be on the way, though. Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton have committed to playing in this year’s Olympic Games after the conclusion of the 2021 NBA Finals. The big question is how quickly they can transition from the end of the 2020-21 NBA season to international competition.
Here are the latest updates on when the Suns and Bucks stars will be heading to Tokyo.
The travel plans for Booker, Holiday and Middleton will depend on how quickly the NBA Finals end. A potential Game 7 would be played on Thursday, July 22, and Team USA’s Olympic opener against France is scheduled to be played on Sunday, July 25.
COVID-19 protocols at the Olympics present another hurdle.
According to the IOC’s playbook distributed to Olympians, athletes are allowed to skip the standard three-day quarantine period upon arriving in Tokyo in order to perform “Games-related activities,” provided they have tested negative for COVID-19. Athletes are required to take two COVID-19 tests within 96 hours of their departure to Japan, plus an additional rapid test when they arrive. They are tested on a daily basis once inside the Olympic Village.
Assuming Booker, Holiday and Middleton clear those steps without incident, they would be available to play against France on Sunday.
When asked about that quick turnaround earlier this month, Booker told reporters that he would be taking the first available flight to Tokyo in the event the series goes the distance.
“Next thing smoking. I’ll be there,” Booker said. “I’ll be there. But obviously not my main focus right now. I’ve reached out to coach [Popovich], I reached out to [USA Basketball managing director Jerry] Colangelo just recently and then I told them I saw all the guys reported to Vegas, and any other place I would rather be is the Finals, but I would love to be there with the guys and I’ll be there soon.”
All three players have brushed off concerns about additional withdrawals. Both Holiday and Middleton said Monday that they would have continued playing and working out during the offseason even if they hadn’t been invited to join Team USA, so it only makes sense to roll right into the Olympics.
“It wasn’t that difficult,” Middleton said of his commitment to Team USA. “Just being an Olympian, representing our country and having a chance to play for a gold medal with a great team. That was it.”
Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee took the spots previously held by Beal and Love. LaVine has not yet been replaced because Team USA is hopeful that he will eventually be able to travel to Tokyo.
* Replacing Bradley Beal (health and safety protocols) and Kevin Love (injury recovery)
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