Following the news that the IOC and Japan have rescheduled the Olympics in Tokyo until 2021, we examine what effect the decision might have on the schedule of the different basketball leagues around the world.
While the decision makes sense in light of the current global situation, it could have some knock-off effects on various basketball leagues including the NBA. The rescheduled Olympics will now be held in the summer of 2021 but with many basketball league schedules due to be delayed or pushed back, we could see a scenario where postseason games clash with the Olympics.
Give youth a chance?
The Olympics could take place at any time during the spring or summer while the NBA postseason could also take place as late as July and August. Any teams involved in the playoffs may be reluctant to release players to the national team and risk them getting injured or burnt out during this period. Even if the events can be scheduled with no clashes. This is especially relevant to big-name veteran players such as Lebron James, whose LA Lakers team is one of the favorites to win the Finals in the latest basketball odds, and Chris Paul of Oklahoma City Thunder. Both of these players will be 36 by next summer and may not relish such an intense schedule at a key time.
It may be that the Olympic selectors will be forced to look towards the next generation to step up. Instead of being a swansong for some older names, the next Olympics could provide a launchpad for the USA team of the future.
Team vs country
If the rescheduled Olympics takes place in the spring, the NBA could take a mid-season break but it will need some commitment from the top teams to send their top talent to Tokyo. Most players will be keen to travel and represent their country; Olympic basketball has a rich history and competing is a great source of pride for players. This is also true in Europe where many leagues could face a similar situation. But the top teams will have to prioritize their domestic needs over their player’s desire to represent their nation on the Olympic stage.
This could create a situation where the pool of players at the rescheduled Olympics could be made up of players whose teams have been eliminated from the postseason action. Players from Serbia, who won silver behind the USA at Rio in 2016, and Spain, who claimed bronze will face a similar dilemma.
A silver lining for injured stars
On the flip side, some players who may have missed the Olympics this summer due to injury may now get a chance to play at the event. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson are just three players who may have opted to skip the tournament this summer due to their recovery programs but who will hope to be in prime shape by 2021.
The postponement of the Olympics has eased some of the logistical issues that leagues all over the world faced in 2020 but it has also created a whole new set of issues that will need to be addressed once the action gets back underway and schedules are slowly realigned.