In the weeks since the NBA postseason began and the league announced that it would start the 2021-22 season on a normal timeline in late September, questions have lingered as to who would populate the U.S. men’s basketball roster headed to next month’s Tokyo Olympics.© Frank Franklin II/AP Durant, already a two-time Olympian, will lead Team USA's men's basketball team in Tokyo. (Frank Franklin II/AP)
Stars including LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both of the Los Angeles Lakers, will sit out after an injury-laden season; Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry reportedly joined their ranks this week. Fresh injuries, of which there have been many at the tail end of this condensed season, recently sidelined big names such as Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving.
But the United States is not wanting for elite basketball talent. Even without some of the league’s most recognizable names, Team USA tentatively put in place a mostly starry, 12-man roster Wednesday, USA Basketball Managing Director Jerry Colangelo said in a phone interview.Sign up for our Tokyo Olympics newsletter to get a daily viewing guide and highlights from the Games
USA Basketball has not yet formally announced the team — rosters do not have to be sent to FIBA, international basketball’s governing body, for finalization until mid-July — and changes can always occur. But the United States probably will send at least one generational talent to Tokyo in Brooklyn Nets star and 2013-14 NBA MVP Kevin Durant, who will be gunning for his third Olympic gold medal.
Coach Gregg Popovich also received commitments from the Golden State Warriors’ Draymond Green, Durant’s teammate from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics; Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls); Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat); Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers); Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons); Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns); and Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, both of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Booker, Holiday and Middleton are all still active in the NBA playoffs. Because of this year’s pandemic-altered season, the latest possible date for a Game 7 of the NBA Finals is July 22, just three days before Team USA is scheduled to meet France in its first game in Tokyo.
Should the Bucks or Suns end up in a long Finals series, Booker, Middleton and Holiday would travel to Japan by private plane as soon as possible after the final game, Colangelo said. But the executive added it is conceivable the United States would have a nine-man roster for its opener.
USA Basketball training camp is scheduled to begin early next month in Las Vegas. The men’s tournament will run through Aug. 7.
Team USA will seek its fourth consecutive gold medal with a versatile group that could see Popovich starting Lillard, Booker, Tatum, Durant and Green. Scoring prowess will be plentiful, with four of the NBA’s top 10 scorers this season on the roster in Beal (31.1 points per game), Lillard (28.8), LaVine (27.4) and Tatum (26.4).
The program is looking to improve on a dismal seventh-place finish at the 2019 World Cup.
The U.S. women’s roster was announced earlier this week. The group, highlighted by Diana Taurasi and Sue Bird, is competing for a seventh consecutive gold medal.
Ben Golliver contributed to this report.
Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/nba/kevin-durant-anchors-versatile-us-men-e2-80-99s-basketball-roster-headed-to-tokyo-olympics/ar-AALmQU2781