Why the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics matters for Kawhi Leonard & Paul George

LA Clippers Paul George Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
LA Clippers Paul George Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

With the decision to postpone the Olympics officially announced, we look at why this matters to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George of the LA Clippers.

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have been postponed due to COVID-19 the I.O.C (International Olympic Committee) announced on Monday. There is no set date but all signs point to the event happening next summer in 2021. With basketball being one of the events, we have to wonder what this means for LA Clippers’ stars, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, who were finalists to make Team USA.

Both George and Leonard are slated to be free agents in the summer of 2021. While they do have player options, neither is expected to pick up the option as they will both be eligible for max contracts. With that kind of money available, it’s quite possible neither plays in order to ensure they secure their contracts.

Paul George knows better than anyone the possibility of injury that comes with playing in international courses. If you don’t remember, George suffered a horrific broken leg in the summer of 2014 during a Team USA scrimmage leading up to the FIBA World Cup. While he was able to return to his All-Star level, it’s difficult to think that injury won’t linger in the back of his mind as he nears signing a new deal.

For Kawhi Leonard, he may opt to not play in order to rest his knee. Obviously, the decision could be based on how far the team makes it into the postseason. If the Clippers are playing through the NBA Finals, he may need the time off from basketball in order to let his knee get some rest. No, this isn’t affected by the timing of the Olympics but is still worth considering when it comes to his decision whether or not to participate.

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The timing does work out in favor of both players. Free agency opens up at the end of June so both players could sign their deal and then begin Olympic participation. The games were slated to start late July this year, so we have to assume if they are delayed until 2021 they will follow a similar schedule. What we don’t know is when the preliminary scrimmages will be.

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The decision to postpone the Olympics is a drastic but necessary step. With the little information we have at this time, we can only speculate on what players may participate. We also don’t yet know how the rest of this NBA season and next NBA season will shake out. This is an ever-changing situation and we will continue to keep you updated as we find more information.