Published On: Tue, Aug 23rd, 2016

Colangelo wants continuity for Tokyo 2020

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Though the U.S. ultimately won the gold medal in convincing fashion, many were startled by the way team struggled with objectively less talented opponents in the preliminary round, eking out narrow wins over Australia, Serbia, and France.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo wasn’t among the surprised. With 10 first-time Olympians and six first-time national-teamers, Colangelo expected the team to need some time to coalesce. Once it did, the U.S. dominated the rest of the field to the point that Colangelo bemoaned the lack of competition from other countries. But he still has no intention of repeating the process in Tokyo in 2020.

“We can’t go back again with 10 new players. That’s not going to happen,” Colangelo said, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein.

“For me, I’m glad we got past this.”

Whether that means the Tokyo 2020 group will closely resemble the Rio 2016 squad is unclear, but we know at least one vital member will be absent. Carmelo Anthony, the program’s all-time leading Olympic scorer, announced the end of his national-team career following Sunday’s gold-medal game. That will open up a leadership vacuum.

“Melo’s for sure the leader,” said first-time Olympian Paul George. “He’s the voice of this team.”

The USA Basketball brass can hope that Kevin Durant – who led the team in scoring for a second straight Olympics – will take up Anthony’s mantle, though Durant is understandably noncommittal about participating in an event that’s four years down the road.

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski, who is himself wrapping up his Team USA tenure, underscored Durant’s and Anthony’s importance to the team’s success in Rio.

“It’s not just how they played but how they acted and how unselfish they were,” Krzyzewski said. “I’m amazed at these guys.”

With Gregg Popovich set to take over for Coach K, Anthony exiting stage left, LeBron James keeping his options open, and several deserving non-Rio participants (Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis) sure to be in the mix, the continuity Colangelo is seeking will likely take shape over the course of the next four years.

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