First, Team USA lost to Nigeria. Then, they lost to Australia.
Now, they’ve lost Bradley Beal.
Beal, who was jubilant last week in a chat with SB Nation about the prospect of being an Olympian and winning a gold medal, has been ruled out of the Olympic Games after being put in the health and safety protocols.
Jerami Grant has also been placed in the protocol, though that decision appears to have been made due to contact tracing, since Grant is expected to remain with the team. It’s unclear at the moment who will replace Beal on the roster. As far as we know, Duncan Robinson has been considered and Trae Young has not.
Team USA also canceled its second exhibition game against Australia today. Their final exhibition contest against Spain Sunday remains on the schedule, though that is also subject to change.
Beal had been starting for the Americans alongside Dame Lillard in the backcourt and was feeling his way out. After scoring two points on 1-of-7 shooting in the opener, Beal scored 12 and 17 in the subsequent two on excellent efficiency. Whether he would have retained his starting spot when Devin Booker and Khris Middleton joined the team is an open question, but unless Stephen Curry decides to suit up, Beal’s replacement will likely be a talent downgrade.
This turn of events is a microcosm of the strange set-up of the 2020 Olympics. They’re being played a year late in a country that is in a COVID-19 state of emergency, and no family, friends, or fans will be allowed at the games. The global pandemic continues, and Beal’s health and safety is a sobering reminder of that. On the women’s side, WNBA All-Star Liz Cambage just opted out of the games out of concern for her mental well-being since the athletes will essentially be playing in a bubble.
The Olympics are still a dream come true for most participants, The American men are going in with that mindset, and they have the talent necessary to come home as champions. But these Games will be anything but normal. Be prepared for unexpected outcomes.
More news for Friday:
- Ramona Shelburne has a must-read story on the league’s experience with Covid over the past two seasons.
- The NBA coaching carousel continues to spin: The Wizards have reportedly identified Denver Nuggets assistant Wes Unseld Jr. (who interviewed for the Clippers job last year) as their top choice for head coach.
- Meanwhile, the Mavericks are bringing Igor Kokoškov back to the NBA as an assistant for Jason Kidd. Kokoškov spent last season as the head coach of Fenerbahçe in Turkey after 20 years in the NBA, including the first three as an assistant with the Clippers. Most importantly, Kokoškov was the head coach of the Slovenian national team during Luka Dončić’s first senior competition, when Slovenia won EuroBasket in 2017.
- The question remains if and when an NBA team will hire a female head coach.
- As for current coaches, many of them are taking inspiration from a fictional source: Ted Lasso.
- The NBA will be holding the draft in person this year at Barclays Center. Cue the boos for Adam Silver.
- Robert Flom went through some wing prospects for the Clippers.
- Yaron Weitzman tried to find out if coaches complaining about officiating during the playoffs has any effect.
- I can’t stop reading about Giannis Antetokounmpo’s block from Game 4. Howard Beck went deep on the play.
- Beck also dove into what takeaways can be had from the strangest season ever. There’s an incredible Paul George stat in here.
- Kawhi Leonard had the 15th-most popular jersey during the second half of the 2020-21 season, the best of any Clipper.