FIBA and the IOC are reviewing a USA Basketball petition to change the rules for when Olympic men’s basketball rosters must be submitted, a FIBA spokesperson said, confirming part of an ESPN.com report.
USA Basketball has not officially confirmed the petition.
ESPN reported that USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said U.S. officials asked to allow roster changes closer to and even during the Olympics.
The NBA season started later and runs later this year, bumping close to the Olympics. A potential NBA Finals Game 7 would be the day before the July 23 Opening Ceremony.
The current deadline for nations to submit Olympic teams is July 5, though there is a late athlete replacement policy that extends closer to the start of competition. This usually comes into play for injuries.
“These are not normal times. Rosters by a certain date doesn’t make any sense,” Colangelo said, according to ESPN.com. “What we’re seeking is flexibility to substitute players very late and to get the best players on the court. It doesn’t just apply to us but for all the countries.”
Complicating matters further, USA Basketball plans to hold a player training camp in early July (the week of July 4, according to ESPN). USA Basketball hasn’t said whether camp participation will be mandatory for Olympic participation.
Fran Fraschilla, a 2016 NBC Olympics men’s basketball analyst, said in November that officials anticipate not having players available for the Olympics from the two teams in the NBA Finals. And a high likelihood that they won’t have players from conference finals teams.
Last season, the Lakers beat the Heat in a finals featuring potential U.S. Olympians LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Further, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker lost in the conference finals.
USA Basketball has not ruled out any players yet, repeating in recent months that the NBA schedule will allow for most to be available for the Olympics. No American NBA superstar has publicly committed to or ruled out accepting a roster spot if offered.
“The scenario, as it stands right now, does seem problematic,” U.S. head coach Gregg Popovich said on Dec. 1, before the NBA season began. “The timing does make everything difficult and will demand some real soul-searching and out-of-the-box type of thinking to put together the best team we possibly can.”
There is precedent for roster changes during a world championship in a team sport.
It is done in ice hockey, where men’s worlds are usually in May. Nations have started the tournament with fewer than the maximum allowable players and added players as their clubs were eliminated from the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
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