Right after Giannis Antetokounmpo finished off an iconic 50-point performance to give the Bucks their first championship in 50 years (with Bobby Portis also becoming a Milwaukee hero), USA Basketball announced that Bulls star Zach LaVine cleared health and safety protocols and would be joining Team USA in Tokyo on Thursday.
LaVine went into the protocols Monday after finishing off his exhibition slate on a high note against Spain. Given he has already been cleared to play in the Olympics, it was obviously just a precaution.
This is a relief for LaVine and Team USA, who will now be getting a number of reinforcements with the NBA Finals over. Devin Booker, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday will be on the way (that could be an awkward flight!) along with LaVine, giving the American squad more firepower as they look to win their fourth straight gold medal.
It will be interesting to see how the arrival of those three NBA Finalists affects LaVine’s playing time after the Bulls star started the final two exhibition games and finished third in scoring over the four friendlies. Booker, Middleton and Holiday have to be wiped out after a long postseason, and it’s going to be such a quick transition to international ball after a long flight over to Japan.
Bradley Beal no longer being on the roster will help LaVine, but Holiday and Middleton should get minutes for guard/wing defense. How minutes up are divvied between LaVine and Booker will be something to watch.
Whatever happens with Team USA’s rotations, it’s great that LaVine will get the opportunity to be there and not be forced off the roster like Beal was. The first game for Team USA is Sunday against France, with the Opening Ceremony coming on Friday.