July 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Team USA guard Kevin Durant, guard Russell Westbrook and center DeMarcus Cousins during practice at the UNLV Mendenhall Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
As you've no doubt heard by now, the NBA and FIBA are working on a deal to turn the Olympic tournament into an under-23 affair and make the FIBA World Cup -- formerly known as the World Championship, last held in 2010 -- the new international centerpiece. Given how close DeMarcus Cousins was to appearing in the 2012 Games, we'd expect that he would also be in play for the World Cup squads in 2014 and 2019. (That's right: the World Cup is scheduled to move to one year before the Olympics to end its conflict with the FIFA World Cup.)
But the World Cup in basketball doesn't have the same pull as the Olympics. Players will no doubt commit, but until the shift in popularity changes (which could take a decade, really) there's going to be disappointment from players who'd like to appear in the Olympics but can't, should the NBA go through with its plan. Cousins is one of those players: making the Olympic team meant a great amount to him, but as he'll be older than 23 before the 2016 Games, he'll be barred from ever appearing, unless there are exceptions. The same would apply to Tyreke Evans and Thomas Robinson. In fact, there is no one currently in the NBA who'd be eligible if it was something like a July 1 cut-off in 2016. All of Team USA (and the other teams, potentially) would be made up of players with three or fewer years of pro experience. There will probably necessarily be a couple of college players.
It's not like the Kings have regularly had Olympians, anyway. The impact on our viewing habits is small. But there will be at least one fewer tournament in which we could possibly see our players during the summer. The impact on Cousins alone upsets me -- players want to represent their country for a reason, and it's not money. That type of respect for the flag and the nation should be respected, not restricted.