On Thursday, USA Basketball announced that Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal will not play in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo due to coronavirus protocols where he has been in since yesterday. Based on the tweet by USA Basketball, it appears that he likely tested positive for the coronavirus.
Unfortunately, there’s more bad news for Team USA. Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant is also in health and safety protocols, though he hasn’t tested positive for the coronavirus yet, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Bradley Beal, who was placed under USA Basketball's health & safety protocols on Wednesday, will remain in protocol & will be unable to participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games.— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 15, 2021
Out of an abundance of caution, Jerami Grant has been placed under health & safety protocols.
Team USA's Jerami Grant has entered health and safety protocols at Team USA camp, sources tell me and @joevardon. Grant has not tested positive for coronavirus. He and Bradley Beal are in protocols in Las Vegas.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 15, 2021
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported earlier that USA Basketball was looking for a replacement for Beal.
USA Basketball is working to replace guard Bradley Beal on the team’s Olympic roster ahead of trip to Japan, sources tell ESPN. Beal entered into health and safety protocols.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 15, 2021
Regardless, if two players on Team USA’s men’s team are under protocols, it’s possible more could be in protocols in the coming days, regardless of vaccination or test status. That may put the American team’s friendly against Australia tomorrow in a sticky spot.
The men’s team’s first Olympic game is on July 25 at 8 a.m. ET when they play France. Since it is not uncommon for a player to have to sit out about two weeks after getting the coronavirus (we’re going to assume that Beal is infected here), Beal would be out until late July. The Americans play Iran on July 28 for their second group game.
So who could replace Beal and/or Grant? Here are some of the better case possible selections from the initial player pool:
- Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors — He is the leading scorer of the NBA and would give the Americans a clear three-point shooting threat in addition to Kevin Durant. I know Curry said he wouldn’t play last June ... but people can change, and this could be a chance for him to change his mind.
- Andre Drummond, C, Los Angeles Lakers — He averaged 14.9 points and 12.0 rebounds last season in all of his appearances with LA and the Cavaliers. He would add some needed size to the lineup.
- Blake Griffin, F, Brooklyn Nets — He hasn’t been putting up the big numbers he did earlier in his career, but he still adds some size and shooting to Team USA’s lineup.
- Dwight Howard, C, Philadelphia 76ers — Howard is no longer in his prime, but is still a very good low post defender and would provide size, which the Americans don’t have enough of.
- Russell Westbrook, G, Washington Wizards — WHY NOT?
Again, either way, this is bad news for Team USA and also for the players involved.
Finally, I’ll leave you all with this question as a community. If there are no Wizards players on the USA Basketball men’s national team when the Olympics start (since there could be a situation where Westbrook gets on the team in theory), do you still want us to recap their games? Originally, I was planning on doing so. But if Beal’s out and barring Westbrook coming in last minute, I don’t see the point in recapping their friendlies or their Olympic games.
On the international/Olympics front, I would rather focus more on the women’s tournament. The USA Basketball women’s national team has Washington Mystics players Tina Charles and Ariel Atkins. Australia is a Gold Medal threat in the women’s tournament as well with Leilani Mitchell as one of their contributors. And we still have to see how Belgium does with Emma Meesseman.
In men’s basketball, I’d still be interested in Japan with Rui Hachimura, Germany with Issac Bonga and even the Czech Republic with former Wizards Tomas Satoransky and Jan Vesely there.
And that’s not including the fact that the NBA Draft is quickly approaching us as well!
Please let us know your though in the comments below on this sad Thursday.