Traditionally, Team USA would gather in early July in Las Vegas to start training camp, play a couple of games around the United States as a warmup, then travel to Japan or another nearby country for a couple of tune-up games before they head to the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremonies on July 23.
Nothing about a world with the coronavirus is normal.
Instead, USA Basketball is considering having a bubble in Las Vegas in July, inviting a couple of other Tokyo-bound teams — Spain and Australia — into it with them, and doing all their training camp and scrimmages there, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
“On the surface it makes a lot of sense,” Colangelo said. “We have to be flexible.”
Spain, the reigning World Cup champions, have five current NBA players who have played on the national team in the past: Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Serge Ibaka, Juancho Hernangomez and Willy Hernangomez. The Australians named their Olympic roster pool this week, and it has 10 current NBA players, including Ben Simmons, Patty Mills, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum and Matisse Thybulle.
A USA Basketball bubble — in a city loaded with temptation — is not an ideal situation, but it may be the best option.
Speaking of flexibility, USA Basketball reportedly is also petitioning both the International Olympic Committee and FIBA (which runs Olympic basketball for the IOC) to allow later changes to the Olympic roster than previous years, saying that in a coronavirus world they need more options. Which is true. With the NBA Finals going on during the USA training camp, that later date would allow players whose teams make deep playoff runs to consider a trip to Tokyo if they desire.
USA Basketball sent out about 60 invitations to players, looking to gauge interest in their participation in the Olympics. Health, contract status, and how far teams go in the playoffs all will factor in player decisions, which will not get made until much closer to the start of training camp. There will be no tryouts; this is a 12-man roster, although a couple more players could be invited as alternates to the Vegas camp.