The International Olympic Committee is surely happy the NBA is back in business. International players may not have faced this problem, but the U.S. national team and the NBA are tied so closely together that there were concerns that America’s best players won’t be heading to London. Safe to say the lockout had ended all that talk.
One item on the new schedule though, could (and probably should) raise some concern for the quality of basketball we will see in England this summer.
As Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk notes, the last possible day for the Finals is June 26. It is a decently crunched playoff schedule, but the NBA could not push it back because of Team USA’s plan to opening training camp on July 5.
Think about this then: if a player, let’s say LeBron James, makes it to Game Seven of the Finals (let’s just say against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers) and then elects to play for the Olympics. That means that not only would he be playing a truncated 66-game season where they are averaging 1.8 or 1.9 days per game, but also going through the two and a half month ordeal of the NBA Playoffs and then going straight into Olympic training a week later for the 2012 Olympics from July 27 through August 12. And, as we know, the basketball competition lasts the entire length of the Olympics.
And, oh yeah, the 82-game schedule and training camps start off a month later in late September.
What this means is you have players going at basketball for high-intensity games pretty much nonstop for the next 18 months. That is a lot of basketball. I hope whoever joins Team USA is ready for that grind.
It is going to be interesting to see who ends up going to London. Dwight Howard has his free agency to worry about this summer. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade could be looking at a long, draining season to get to the Finals again. Kobe Bryant is recovering from offseason knee surgery and has a various amount of injuries he always seems to be healing, but he is not someone to back down from a game. I don’t think Kevin Durant ever stops playing basketball. Derrick Rose takes a beating all year and he probably envisions going deep in the postseason.
You can see where many of the American players are probably going to be ready for a break come July.
Team USA tryouts and selections are still a little ways away. I am sure players that get deep in the Playoffs will think twice about going to the Olympics depending on how their bodies feel.
But Mike Krzyzewski will have his work cut out for him coaching this squad. He made the 2008 team a monster defensively and that squad had to work extremely hard in training camp to get to that high level of defensive intensity. Will players have that reserve in the tank? How will Coach K manage minutes to ensure guys stay healthy and fresh during the extremely rushed schedule of Olympic basketball?
Team USA will have these concerns for sure.
NBA teams with Olympic players will be worried about the continued strain of playing high-intensity games. The lockout is going to affect basketball for the next few years for sure. The Olympics could very well be effected and the 2011-12 season could be too if players are just overworked and come into camp worn down and tired. Several players who play in the Olympics report being a little worn down from all the games and that is during a normal season.
This season will not be normal. And the Olympic team or the 2011-12 season could be threatened for the players that head off to London to represent their country.