NBA coaches raise concerns about impact of rescheduled Tokyo Olympics

NBA coaches who also work on national team coaching staffs weighed in on the impact of the revised basketball calendar, including the Tokyo Olympics, in interviews this week.

In comments published by The Associated Press, Steve Kerr, Nick Nurse, and others shared their concerns and their thoughts on planning for the 2020-21 NBA season and the Tokyo Olympics.

“Believe it or not, I haven’t had a single conversation with Pop about that,” said Kerr, the Golden State Warriors bench boss who also serves as a Team USA assistant under head coach Gregg Popovich. “And the reason is because we don’t know. We’ve been talking almost daily now for the last couple of weeks and before that, we were speaking once every few weeks. So, we haven’t even had a single conversation because there’s nothing to report.”

Nurse, who guided the Toronto Raptors to an NBA title last season, is also the Canada national team coach. And Nurse recognizes the challenges of travel for pre-Olympic qualifying tournaments in Serbia, Lithuania, Croatia, and Canada, which are scheduled for June 29-July 4, 2021. Canada is vying to qualify for the 12-nation Olympic basketball tournament. Four spots are still up for grabs.

Start of the Tokyo Olympics

The rescheduled Tokyo Olympics are penciled in to start on July 23, 2021. The original Olympic schedule this year was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020-21 NBA season is tentatively set to commence in December. This, of course, could complicate matters for teams preparing for the Olympic qualifying tournaments. (The suspended 2019-20 NBA campaign is set to restart in late July for 22 of 30 teams at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Case in point: The NBA playoffs and Olympic qualifiers could be held concurrently.

“It’s complicated, is my best thought,” Nurse was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. “I just don’t know enough to tell you what next season is going to look like. I don’t know. When’s it going to start? I think they’re talking about pushing it back, but I don’t know if they’re going to play games closer together. I don’t think so, that’s kind of a thing that everybody’s been happy that they continue to spread them out and lessen the back-to-backs and all those things.”

Atlanta Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk believes the NBA may adjust the schedule to shorten the overall calendar length of next season.

“They’ve talked to us on our team calls that it might be a condensed schedule next year, more so than in the past,” Schlenk told AP.

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