Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love will not be part of the twelve-man squad that competes in the Tokyo Olympics. Beal’s status was reported by The Athletic’s Shams Charania. Love’s decision was confirmed by his agent.
Wizards' Bradley Beal will not play in the Tokyo Olympics for Team USA, USAB says.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 15, 2021
According to Charania, Beal will be unable to travel with the team after testing positive for COVID-19 and is currently in health and safety protocols. The loss of Beal is a big blow for Team USA, as Beal was a member of the starting lineup, and led the team with 17 points in their 108-80 blowout of Argentina on Tuesday. Jerami Grant also entered health and safety protocols due to contact tracing measures. Team USA’s scheduled Friday exhibition game against Australia was canceled due to the status of the two players.
For Love, his decision to leave the team stems from a nagging calf injury that he dealt with throughout the 2021 NBA regular season in which he only played 25 games. He was quoted as saying “I am incredibly disappointed to not be heading to Tokyo with Team USA, but you need to be at absolute peak performance to compete at the Olympic level and I am just not there yet,” in an official statement. Many had questioned why Love had been selected for the roster as his play in recent years has sharply declined from its previous All-Star form, but Love has dealt with a myriad of injuries the past couple of seasons that are clearly still causing him issues.
As also reported by Charania, Beal and Love will be replaced by San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson and Denver Nuggets center Javale McGee, a three-time NBA champion.
Team USA's replacements for Bradley Beal and Kevin Love for the Olympics: Keldon Johnson and JaVale McGee. Johnson had an impressive camp. McGee is a three-time NBA champ. https://t.co/2u8Oe5RMu0
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 16, 2021
Johnson joins the team by way of being promoted from the Team USA Select Team Roster, whereas Javale McGee was simply chosen. Perhaps his proximity to Team USA’s Las Vegas camp (McGee went to college in Reno and is known to spend time in the area) and his championship pedigree are behind the choice.
While the circumstances for both players are certainly far from ideal, it could be a blessing in disguise for Team USA. The roster lacked a traditional big man to help compete in the much more physical international basketball style, and having a player like Johnson who will be less focused on scoring could be a boon for a team that some have suggested have too many cooks spoiling the stew between Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Jayson Tatum and Beal. After two unexpected and slightly embarrassing exhibition losses to Nigeria and Australia, a change of scenery could be exactly what they need. Here’s to hoping this roster meshes well and brings home the Gold Medal in Tokyo!
All stats courtesy of Pro Basketball-Reference and ESPN
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