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USA Basketball player selection for Olympics hinges on new schedule


Before USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo speculates about which men’s players might be available for a rescheduled Tokyo Olympics next year, he wants to know the dates.

Then, Colangelo will “know where to tap what we have available to us in terms of players,” he told USA TODAY Sports. “There really are a lot outstanding players. We want to give the world our very best. You start with that and then you work however you need to. You make the adjustments as they’re required. Internally, we’ll be talking about all kinds of back-up plans.”

Depending on when the Olympics are, USA Basketball could have a full list of NBA players from which to choose, a partial list or no NBA players at all.

Colangelo understands all of this.

Jerry Colangelo will have multiple contingency plans for the make up the USA Olympic men's basketball team depending on when the Tokyo Games are rescheduled.

If the Olympics fall in early spring, there’s a chance no NBA players are available with its regular-season still in play. If the Olympics are later in the spring, players whose teams weren’t in the playoffs or players whose teams have been eliminated from the playoffs will be available. Or, if they’re in the summer, after the NBA Finals, USA Basketball could have its pick of top players.

He could be looking at G League players or college players whose seasons have ended.

“Just give me the dates and we will know what to do,” Colangelo said.

Team USA celebrates after winning the gold medal in men's basketball during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich remains slated to coach the team, but that of course is contingent upon the dates, too. Former NBA coach Jeff Van Gundy coached the U.S. team that played World Cup qualifying games, using mostly G League players, during the NBA season. 

Colangelo had suspected the Games would be postponed and was just waiting on decision-makers.

“The announcement was the right announcement and it’s well-supported by us because under the circumstances there are things more important than the Olympics and that’s taking care of our people, our families,” Colangelo said. “This is a time for reflection and to focus on faith, family and friends. Let’s get our country back on our feet and let’s hope it’s shorter rather than longer and we can get back to work as soon as we possibly can.”

Colangelo also said this would be his last Olympics with USA Basketball. He joined in 2005 and helped restore U.S. success in international competitions, including the Olympics. The U.S. finished third in the 2004 Olympics but won gold in 2008, 2012 and 2016 and won gold at the FIBA World Cup in 2010 and 2014.

“I’ve been told I can continue as long as I wanted to but it’s time for someone else,” Colangelo said. “I’m going to finish this role, and instead of 2020, it will be 2021 and that’s fine. I’m totally committed to it. I want to finish strong. It’s been a great run, a great experience for me and a lot of great things have happened with USA Basketball since 2005. It’s time to pass the torch after the next Olympics.”

Follow Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.





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