More Problems for Team USA as Zach LaVine Placed on COVID-19 Protocols

Zach Lavine Team USA With Tokyo 2020 Background

  • USA Basketball announced on Monday that Zach LaVine will not be flying with the team to Tokyo.
  • The organization says that LaVine has been placed on COVID-19 protocols and they hope that he can join the team later this week.
  • Team USA is the -370 odds on favorite to win the gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.

USA Basketball announced on Monday that guard Zach LaVine has been placed in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols and will not join the rest of the U.S. men’s basketball team in their flight to Tokyo for the Olympics.

It did not specify why LaVine was placed on the list but it described his placement in the protocols as “out of an abundance for caution”. In its statement, USA Basketball said that it hoped that LaVine can join the team later this week in Tokyo.

The Olympic basketball tournament starts on July 23rd but the United States does not take court until July 25th when they take on the Rudy Gobert-led France. Team USA will next face Iran on July 28th while they close out their preliminary round campaign against the Czech Republic on July 31.

LaVine Looked Olympic Ready

This latest development is another blow to Team U.S.A’s gold medal aspirations. LaVine had looked Olympics-ready after strong performances in their tune-up games in Las Vegas.

The Chicago Bulls guard averaged 10.3 points per game in four exhibition games and was the team’s third leading scorer behind Damian Lillard and Kevin Durant. LaVine had 13 points on 5-8 shooting, including 3-5 from deep during their impressive 83-76 win against potential gold medal opponent Spain in their final tune-up game.

LaVine had been the team’s starter in the last two games after Beal was ousted from the lineup and with him potentially out for a game or more, the coaching staff will have to make another major adjustment.

U.S. Still Gold Medal Favorites

Despite losing back to back exhibition games against Nigeria and Australia, the United States has seen its odds drop from -1000 when the betting lines for the Men’s basketball gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics opened at the best basketball betting sites to as short as -370 in the latest oddsboard from online sportsbook FanDuel.

Aside from their on-court woes, the Americans have been plagued by COVID-19 issues. Bradley Beal, who was expected to be one of the team’s top scorers, was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test. Related to that, Jerami Grant was placed in the COVID-19 protocols for precaution and missed practices. However, Grant has been cleared to rejoin the team in their flight to Tokyo.

Kevin Love also withdrew from the team citing his fitness and he was replaced by Javale McGee. Meanwhile, Beal was replaced by the San Antonio Spurs’ Keldon Johnson who had an impressive debut in their exhibition game against Spain. Now, it’s LaVine who’s out due to protocols and while the Americans are hoping he can rejoin the team when the tournament starts, the team is down to 8 players now with the tournament set to start on July 25th.

Of course, the teams is still expecting Devin Booker, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday to finish the 2021 NBA Finals before traveling to Tokyo. But talent isn’t the Americans’ main issue in Tokyo but team chemistry. Obviously, these roster issues aren’t making it any easier even for a coaching great like Gregg Popovich.

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Shane Acedera / Author

Shane grew up watching the Magic & Bird rivalry but ended up rooting for Detroit's Bad Boys team in the 1990s NBA. He loves to tell sports stories and has been writing about sports since high school. When Shane isn't busy jotting down his thoughts, he's just chillin' at home with his wife Rocelle and their two dogs named Horry and Fisher. He recently added a new family member, adopting a handsome retired K-9 named Ranger.

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