NBA won’t release players for in-season World Cup qualifying

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Stephen Curry said he plans to play in the 2019 World Cup.

He’ll need help ensuring Team USA qualifies.

FIBA, in its infinite wisdom, will hold qualifying games in the following windows:

  • Nov. 20-28, 2017
  • Feb. 19-27, 2018
  • June 25-July 3, 2018
  • Aug. 30-Sep. 8, 2018
  • Nov. 26-Dec. 4, 2018
  • Feb. 18-26, 2019

Obviously, most of those dates occur during the NBA season. The NBA will not release its players to represent their national teams at those times, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.

USA Basketball release:

Players selected to represent the USA in the World Cup Qualifying games are expected to primarily be from the NBA Development League

Stein:

Another possibility, according to USA Basketball sources, ‎is recruiting Americans who are playing abroad in selected leagues that will consent to releasing players for qualifying windows.

While new USA Basketball head coach Gregg Popovich is engaged with his San Antonio Spurs responsibilities, sources said one option USAB has considered is employing multiple head coaches during the various qualifying periods for the fresh rosters that will be selected for each of the six two-game qualifying sets to come.

But the more likely scenario for now, sources said, is the hiring of one coach not currently in charge of an NBA team to handle the 12 qualifying games before Popovich is scheduled to debut as Team USA head coach at the 2019 World Cup

The Americans have dominated key events lately, winning gold medals at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympics and 2010 and 2014 World Cups. But the U.S. relies heavily on its NBA stars. This format change disproportionally affects Team USA.

But every major national team will lose talent. Why did FIBA move qualifying from the summer or early fall? It just hurts its own product.