Bradley Beal won't play in Tokyo Olympics after entering COVID-19 protocols

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After he entered COVID-19 health and safety protocols on Wednesday, USA Basketball announced on Thursday that starting guard Bradley Beal won't play in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games

Beal entered protocols a day after playing in Tuesday's 108-80 exhibition win over Argentina in Las Vegas. He showed no signs of illness while tying Kevin Durant as the game's scoring leader with 17 points. 

Shortly after confirming Beal's status for Tokyo, Team USA announced that forward Jerami Grant has also been placed in the program's health and safety protocols "out of an abundance of caution." The news confirmed an earlier report from the The Athletic that Grant was placed in protocols, but had not tested positive for COVID-19

Popovich: Loss of Beal is 'devastating'

Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich summed up the loss for Beal and Team USA while speaking with reporters on Thursday.

"Since he was a little kid, this has been a dream of his," Popovich said, per the Washington Post. "He was playing great, he was having fun, being a big part of us coming together chemistry-wise. ... It's devastating."

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JULY 10:  Bradley Beal #4 of the United States passes against Nigeria during an exhibition game at Michelob ULTRA Arena ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nigeria defeated the United States 90-87.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Bradley Beal will not play for Team USA in Tokyo. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Who will replace Beal on roster, in starting lineup?

It's not immediately clear who will replace Beal on Team USA's roster. Beal started in the backcourt alongside Damian Lillard in all three Team USA exhibition games this week, meaning his absence will require a retool of the starting lineup as well. Chicago Bulls guard Zach Lavine is also on the team while Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday are slated to join the team in Tokyo after the conclusion of the NBA Finals.

The news arrives as a significant blow to a USA Basketball team that has struggled during warmups for the Olympics. Prior to Tuesday's win over Argentina, Team USA was 0-2 in exhibition play with with a 90-87 loss to Nigeria and a 91-83 loss to Australia

Team USA will next play another exhibition against Australia on Friday before concluding exhibition play against Spain on Sunday. The Americans are slated to play their first game at the Tokyo Olympics on July 25 against France. Despite its early struggles, Team USA remained a -400 betting favorite to win the gold medal after Beal's status was revealed.

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