When FIBA, in its “infinite wisdom,” decided to move its World Cup from 2018 — spaced directly between Olympic years — to 2019 this year, it essentially forced top NBA players to choose between the World Cup and Olympics.
The results of that move are in. The USA finished seventh in the World Cup in large part because our best players stayed home (it wasn’t just the USA, Nicola Mirotic and others made the same call). Now, a year out from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Stephen Curry, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, and maybe LeBron James have all said they want to suit up for Team USA next summer.
George’s sentiment being healthy is one caveat almost every player has mentioned. The NBA season and playoffs are a marathon grind and players are more aware of the need for rest and recovery to extend their careers than ever. Also, because the Olympics start earlier (the opening ceremonies are July 24), it means USA Basketball training camp will likely begin in late June, making it more likely that players on teams that make a run to the Finals may choose to sit out due to a lack of rest.
Just know next summer Team USA in Tokyo will be stacked with talent. The main reason will be FIBA, which in an effort to turn its World Cup (where it gets the revenue) into something bigger than the Olympics, forced a choice that is not working out for it.