The United States men’s basketball team flew to Tokyo Monday without several key members of the roster. Only eight of Team USA’s 12 players are in Japan with the Olympic Opening Ceremony less than 72 hours away.

Zach LaVine was not allowed to board the flight because he was put into COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are still playing in the 2021 NBA Finals.

Assuming all four players eventually make the trip, they won’t have much time to settle in. Team USA is scheduled to play France on Sunday in its first Olympic game.

 

 

The U.S. hopes that LaVine can fly to Tokyo later this week. Jerami Grant, who was one of the eight players on the flight to Japan, recently cleared contact tracing protocols after spending four days in quarantine. 

Bradley Beal was ruled out of the Olympics late last week because he tested positive for COVID-19. Keldon Johnson took his spot on the roster.

Beal’s absence makes it even more important that LaVine is able to play. LaVine scored 28 points in 46 minutes as Team USA won its last two exhibition games.

The NBA Finals will end Tuesday night if the Milwaukee Bucks defeat the Phoenix Suns in Game 6. If the Suns force a Game 7, the series won’t conclude until Thursday night in Phoenix.

Booker, Middleton and Holiday might not arrive in Tokyo until Saturday, one day after the Opening Ceremony. 

 

“We just have to persevere and find ways to keep them in shape even though we’re not going to be able to execute too much very well,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich told reporters. “So, we’re going to have to figure out common denominators for this exact group. Less is more, so to speak. Inventing the wheel would be the worst thing we can do for this group.”

Team USA has struggled this summer, losing its first two exhibition games in Las Vegas. The team remains a heavy favorite to win its fourth straight gold medal.

Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard and Jayson Tatum are Team USA’s top players in Tokyo with the Games about to begin.

Zach LaVine Chicago Bulls Zach LaVine during one of Chicago Bulls' practice sessions. Photo: Chicago Bulls/Twitter