Strike 3: Denver Nuggets fans will have split loyalties and plenty to be concerned about when the 2024 Paris Olympic games get started in late July.

The team’s two biggest stars, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, are both scheduled to play for their respective national teams, Serbia and Canada. They appear to be the only Nuggets to participate in the games this time around. There are no Nuggets on Team USA. Aaron Gordon was a candidate, but didn’t make the final roster. Michael Porter Jr. was never in the mix.

This obviously creates some angst among the Denver faithful who probably want to root for Team USA to earn their 17th Gold Medal in men’s basketball. But can Nuggets fans root for LeBron James, Steph Curry, Joel Embid, Anthony Davis, Anthony Edwards and other rivals when they tip off against Joker and Serbia? And how about when Team USA faces upstart Canada, which this year features Jamal and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, plus a good number of other NBA players, including RJ Barrett and Andrew Wiggins?

An emotional quandary to be sure.

But that’s not the biggest issue for Denver fans to be concerned about.

Remember, last time we saw Joker and Jamal on the court they were running on fumes, and Jamal was playing hurt. Denver starters played the most minutes of any unit in these NBA playoffs, and that was coming off a regular season that saw Joker play 400 more minutes than he did a season ago. The longer off season was supposed to be a time to rest and heal.

Now that rest gets interrupted by international competition that holds a lot of meaning to the participants. Don’t plan on any of these NBA stars to treat the Olympics like they treat the NBA All-Star game, for example. They will give it their all.

That means the shorter offseason isn’t going to be shorter after all. That means that Joker and Jamal will spend two weeks busting their respective backsides instead of sitting on them and recuperating.

Could this have a negative impact on the Nuggets next season?

There’s no way to tell, and no way to not allow them to play for their countries, either.

In other words, all Nuggets fans can do is sit back, cross their fingers and enjoy the show. The United States opens up against Serbia on July 28. Joker vs LeBron, Embid, Davis and Company in the very first game. Both teams are in Group C. Canada is in Group A and will play their first game the day before. So Jamal and Joker won’t face each other at the outset, but could meet up later. The schedule has three days off in between games, so at least they can get some R&R while they’re there.

These won’t be your father’s Olympics, at least not on the hard court. Yes, the US has been and should continue to be the best team in the tournament, but there are no guarantees. NBA talent is on several different rosters now and upsets are going to happen. Would it in any way ease the sting of the early playoff exit for Nuggets fans if either Joker or Jamal left France with a gold medal?