USA Basketball officials have less than one month to submit their final Olympic men’s roster to 12 players. The 2021 Tokyo Olympics, formally known as the 2020 Olympics before COVID-19 postponed the summer games one year later, is right around the corner.
The United States team is currently three-time champions, having won the gold medal in 2008, 2012, and 2016. The United States is looking to win four straight Olympic gold medals for the first time since winning seven straight Olympic games during a stretch from 1936-1968.
All eyes are on the USA roster given the plethora of talent that the Americans have to offer. However, despite the deadline approaching, the USA team remains a mystery. Here is what we know so far.
10 NBA Stars That Will Not Play For The USA Dream Team In 2021 Olympics
LeBron James was physically and mentally exhausted by the end of the Los Angeles Lakers Game 6 loss to the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs. After the game, James promoted “Same Jam 2,” which will be released this summer, by saying he would more likely be playing for “the Toon squad.”
All signs point to the Big 3 from the Brooklyn Nets making a run towards the NBA Finals. If the Nets qualify for the championship, those games could roll towards the last part of June. It would give the team just under a month to prepare for the Olympics. After the Olympics, the NBA regular season would be right around the corner. Durant played less than 40 games in the regular season and will likely prioritize his health after a deep playoff run.
Curry, 32, is coming off the NBA scoring title and hasn’t ruled out playing. However, the Warriors are unsure about competing for the team after the 2020 Olympics were postponed. With the NBA season extended past normal standards, the chatter among sources online is stating that the extended NBA season could play a part in his decision even though the Warriors were eliminated in the first round.
Leonard has a big decision this summer in regards to his player’s option. Clippers fans can relax for now after the team clinched their Game 7 victory and advanced to the semifinals. However, if the Clippers don’t make at least the NBA Finals, there’s a chance Leonard could leave. Instead of the distraction of the Olympics, he might take time to figure out his destination for next season.
Harden re-injured his hamstring, so we can likely count him out as a precaution. It’s speculated that Harden could return at some point during the playoffs, but that is only because the NBA championship would be on the line. If he is feeling any pain, he will keep his body in mind and not the Olympics. Since both Durant and Harden are free agents after the 2021-2022 season, winning either this year or next is a must.
Irving has preached mental health during this NBA stretch that ranged from the bubble to the present day. He nearly walked away from basketball as a whole, so he is likely going to use the rest time. We can probably guarantee that he won’t play even though he hasn’t said anything publicly.
A groin injury cost Davis the last three games of the first-round series and potentially the Lakers from ultimately moving on. Davis was medically cleared to play in Game 6, but lasted just five minutes of playing time. He was visibly in pain and could not run up and down the floor. The seven-time All-Star will need the summer to recover, which could potentially carry over into the next season if it is not rehabilitated correctly.
Green was a member of the 2016 team and is just 31 years old. He has been an All-Defensive player for the majority of his career, but sources among the NBA world are doubting that he will play.
Paul is 36 years old and already owns two gold medals from the 2008 and 2012 teams. The Suns are looking to make a deep playoff run, but even if the team falls in the second round, there is no reason why Paul should take on this adventure. Paul didn’t take part in the 2016 Olympics, so why would he come back now?
In 2014, Paul George suffered a gruesome leg injury in a Team USA Basketball event. He has since recovered fine since then, but he knows first hand what can happen. George was a member of the 2016 championship team. Since he already owns a gold medal, he will focus purely on winning a championship with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers remain in the NBA playoffs and have a chance for a deep run as well.
Zion Williamson Is 50-50
Williamson missed the last stretch of the season after fracturing his left ring finger in early May. His availability for the Olympics is up in the air, but there have been no reports about any setbacks from his recovery. His decision will likely come near the deadline.
10 NBA Stars That Will Play For The USA Dream Team In 2021 Olympics
The list of eligible candidates is longer than the names listed here, but as the officials widdle down their list to the finalists, here are just a few big-time names that could accept the offer if they were asked.
After a disappointing exit in the first round, including the “mutual decision” for his head coach Terry Stotts to leave, Lillard could use some joy in his life. All jokes aside, Lillard is coming off an All-NBA First Team season and would be an instant star on the team. Lillard has never played on an Olympic team, so this could be his chance to win some sort of championship.
There are no reports that suggest Booker lacks interest in this opportunity. Booker’s only hurdle would be if the Suns make the NBA Finals. If the Suns make the Finals, his chances could be slim, but if the Suns bow out early, the 25-year old would be a welcomed scoring addition.
The Miami Heat were a first-round exit, so Butler has more time to rest than normal. Butler was a member of the 2016 championship team. He lives for leadership opportunities. Butler would be a welcomed veteran on a squad with anticipated youth.
Tatum is coming off a career season and would compete with Butler for starting time at small forward if both are on the roster. The 23-year old averaged 26.4 points per game. The idea of Lillard, Booker, and Tatum in the same lineup would make this offense scary.
Imagine throwing Towns, a 7-foot center that averaged close to 40% from three-point range, into that starting lineup? Towns haven’t won anything big outside of making the first round of the playoffs with the Timberwolves in 2018. If Towns is mentally up for the challenge, this would be his first chance of winning anything related to a championship.
Adebayo hasn’t said anything about playing or not but this almost feels like a lock. Adebayo would bring defense, hustle, and energy to this team. Every team needs a “glue guy.” If Draymond Green doesn’t play for the team, the USA roster will need a big-time hustler and that would be Adebayo.
Imagine if Booker, who averaged 25.6 points, and LaVine, who averaged 27.4 points, were your two shooting guards on the depth chart. The first and second units would have two dynamic scorers on the roster. LaVine, who made his first All-Star team this season, proved he can score on any part of the floor. With no playoffs for the Bulls, he seems like someone who would join the team.
Mitchell is in the same boat as Booker. While Booker and the Suns are the No. 2 seed, Mitchell led the Utah Jazz to the No. 1 seed. There’s a chance we could see both players’ matchup in the Conference Finals. For now, the Jazz must find a way to get past the Los Angeles Clippers and the duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. If Mitchell and Co. fall in the semifinals, we could see Mitchell join Team USA.
If Curry doesn’t join the team, the next best option at point guard would be Young. The Hawks point guard just led the team to an upset Game 1 victory over the No. 1 overall seeded Philadelphia 76ers. If the Hawks can make a run to the Conference Finals, or NBA Finals, we might not see Young. However, many expect the 76ers to win this series, which could persuade Young to join the USA roster.
Randle won the Most Improved Player Award this past year. Randle averaged4.1 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. He is one of the best passing forwards in the league, so pairing him with a bunch of big-time scorers would all but complete this Team USA roster. Keep an eye out for Randle’s final decision.
The 2016 Team USA roster featured Kevin Durant, DeAndre Jordan, Kyle Lowry, Harrison Barnes, DeMar DeRozan, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, Draymond Green, and Carmelo Anthony. Outside of Barnes, Green, and DeRozan, the roster will probably be made up of a completely different cast.
The NBA playoffs will have implications for the futures of the remaining franchises. Who would have thought that it could also dictate the direction of the Olympic roster too?