Olympics postponement affects many Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia 76ers, Brett Brown, Ben Simmons (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers, Brett Brown, Ben Simmons (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The postponement of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo to 2021 could have many ripple effects involving Philadelphia 76ers’ coaches and players, as well as former players.

Brett Brown expected to be coaching this July — just not the Philadelphia 76ers.

Brown was named the head coach of the Austrailan Olympic team last year. It is the second time he will be in charge of the Boomers (name the Aussie national men’s team goes by) at an Olympics, having been the coach in 2012, back when he was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs.

Of course, due to the COVID-19 virus, that will not be happening. It was recently announced the games will be conducted from July 23-August 8, 2021, almost exactly a year from when they were originally scheduled to be held in Japan.

With the NBA season on hold since March 13, Brown could very well be coaching the 76ers at the time he is supposed to be in Tokyo. When, or if, the NBA re-starts, and in what format, is still to be decided.

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A couple of 76ers players were expected to playing in the Olympics as well.

Ben Simmons had said he would play for the Boomers in Tokyo so Brown will have at least one player he is very familiar with.

Furkan Korkmaz has been a key player for the Turkish national team for a few years so he, undoubtedly, would be on their Olympic team barring injury.

Those are the only two definite players who will be in the Olympics but there could be a few more from the current roster.

In February, Tobias Harris was named a finalist for the U.S. Olympic team. Since tryouts were supposed to be held after the NBA season, the roster is far from set.

Backup point guard Raul Neto played for Brazil in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.

Al Horford has played for the Dominican Republic in the past. Although he did not grow up there,  Horford was born in the Dominican Republic and  both of his parents are natives of the Caribbean country. Their director has said Horford has a spot on the team if he wants it.

Another possible Sixers that brown might coach is Matisse Thybulle. Although born in America, Thybulle spent part of his childhood in Australia due to his father’s business and still holds an Australian passport.

If Brown is the coach, it is hard to imagine he would not want Thybulle on the team and expose him to Olympic competition to help develop his game.

The most famous 76er from another country is probably the least likely to be in Tokyo. Joel Embiid is from the African nation of Cameroon but he has never played for their national team in any competition.

International play is usually conducted over the summer and Embiid has usually been rehabbing from an injury during that time. Cameroon, which is ranked No. 64 in the world FIBA rankings, has yet to qualify for the Olympics.

Another Sixer with a slight chance of making the Olympics is two-way player Marial Shayok. He was invited to try out for the Canadian World Cup team last year and after a fine season with the 76ers’ G-League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, he might get a closer look from the Canadian basketball authorities.

Now, the question is, how does the Olympic Basketball competition moving to 2021 affect all the Sixers players and coach?

If the NBA is still playing in July 2021, it would affect everything.

The thinking goes, if the NBA’s current season goes into August, there is no way the 2020-21 season could start on time as some teams would have training camp a couple of weeks after the previous year ended.

There had been a proposal from the Atlanta Hawks even before the virus delay that the NBA should start its season on Christmas Day, therefore avoiding competition for most of the NFL and college football season.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has not ruled out a possible December start to next season.

A December start means the league would push back its normal schedule by two months, leaving the end of the regular season around mid-June.

With the Olympics five weeks later, the NBA will probably still be conducting its playoffs, so no player will be able to commit early. It is also doubtful many players will want to go right from a grueling NBA season onto an Olympic team with virtually no break.

It would probably be similar to the ice hockey world championships, with teams composed of minor leaguers, college players and some pro players from teams who did not make the playoffs.

Assuming the Sixers are not one of the dregs of the NBA, none of the Sixers players would be able to be in it (except possibly Shayok), and it is doubtful Brown could make the commitment to coach Australia if he is still on the bench with the 76ers (a chancy proposition)

On the other hand, assuming the NBA has its normal late October start, all players should be available unless they doing publicity for the new Space Jam movie scheduled to be released at that time.

If Brown is let go by the 76ers, how weird will it be coaching one and maybe two of his ex-players. Simmons committed to playing for the Boomers before Brown was named coach so he would still probably go. However, Thybulle’s chances of making the team would take a hit if Brown is no longer his NBA coach.

Korkmaz will still play for Turkey and, if asked, Neto would be on Brazil’s team. If he has another good season with the Blue Coats or 76ers, Shayok might stand a better chance of making the Canadian team.

With a year more of wear and tear on their bodies, whether big names like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George would still want to do it is open to question.

Harris was a long shot going in to this summer tryouts to actually make the team but it might be alot easier for him to make the USA squad next year.

Another season of the NBA grind probably cancels out Embiid and Horford from playing, but you never slam the door. Each of their respective countries’ directors have stated, if they qualify, each would be more than happy for them to just show up and play in Tokyo.

Next. Ben Simmons, the NBA's top 3-point manufacturer. dark

Postponing an Olympics for a year is more than just changing summer vacation plans. It can effect, in some cases good, in others bad, the hopes and dreams of playing or coaching in the biggest sports spectacle on the planet.