Jerry Colangelo: Team USA will face more difficultly luring NBA stars

Grant Hill and USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo
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Jerry Colangelo fixed USA Basketball after an unthinkable bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics with an unconventional, daring, intricate plan:

He got better players.

But Team USA’s star power slipped significantly for the 2019 World Cup, leading to a brutal seventh-place finish. The Tokyo Olympic roster also has warts, and the Americans look vulnerable.

This might not be just a blip. Colangelo says he thinks it will be increasingly difficult for Team USA to attract NBA stars.

Colangelo, via Dan Wolken of USA Today:

Jerry Colangelo, who guided USA Basketball out of the doldrums and engineered three straight runs to Olympic gold, said Friday he believes it will only get more difficult going forward to convince the NBA’s top players to make firm commitments to play for Team USA.

“I think we rode the crest early on with commitments from players, top players who bought into everything we were selling at the time and the reality is we live in a different world than it was 15 or 16 years ago,” Colangelo said during a 35-minute session with reporters. “Players, whether it’s admitted or not, money and careers and things like that are of the utmost importance – even moreso today than then … Looking at the list of people that aren’t here there’s a story behind each one of them, some of which we can talk about and some of which you really shouldn’t talk about because that’s their private business. So all we can do is make the opportunity available.”

“There were a few players whose teams just didn’t want them to play,” Colangelo said. “They were looking at it from their own perspective, their team perspective. I get it. I understand that. So that eliminated some of those people. Contracts played a role. All those things played a role but that’s not any excuse. I’d say to you we’re still blessed with an awful lot of talent in this country just like this roster has an awful lot of talent.”

It’ll soon be on Grant Hill to handle this dilemma. Perhaps, he has the relationships to attract more NBA stars.

If not, it’ll be tough for the U.S. to maintain (regain?) its dominance.

Team USA faces key disadvantages in these tournaments. American players lack chemistry, as the roster changes significantly year-to-year. They are are also less familiar with international rules and style.

The United States has compensated with an overwhelming talent advantage. Even now, the U.S. easily has the best roster top to bottom on paper in Tokyo. Team USA is favored to win the gold medal.

So, this could still work out.

But the Americans are losing their margin for error.