LeBron, Curry, Embiid headline U.S. player pool for Olympics

ByBrian Windhorst ESPN logo
Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Looking to win a fifth consecutive Olympic gold in Paris this summer, against maybe the best international competition ever assembled, USA Basketball is hoping to lean on veterans and an important newly naturalized American.

LeBron James, who hasn't played in the Olympics since 2012; Stephen Curry, who has never played in the Olympics; and Joel Embiid, who is from Cameroon but became a U.S. citizen in 2022, have all put their names up for consideration.

They were some of the biggest names announced Tuesday as part of a 41-player pool in the first step toward deciding the 12-man team.

The roster could be set as early as May. The Olympics start July 27. Health at the conclusion of the playoffs will obviously play a large role for many players.

Team USA finished out of the medals with a young team at the World Cup last summer. In the wake of that result, USA Basketball executive director Grant Hill, coach Steve Kerr and general manager Sean Ford have spent the past few months lobbying older players to join the roster.

Kevin Durant, who has won three golds with Team USA, is among the players on the initial list. As is Jimmy Butler, who last played in Rio in 2016. So are Paul George and Kyrie Irving, other Team USA veterans in their 30s.

The list isn't binding; players could be added for consideration or could be removed over the next several months. But it's a window into the team's philosophy as the U.S. approaches an expected huge challenge.

In a surprise, Draymond Green was not on the list. Green won gold in 2021 in Tokyo and was expected to be a player Kerr, his longtime coach with the Golden State Warriors, would strongly consider for the roster. Green has been suspended twice this season for on-court actions.

But it's clear the Americans are looking for size. After being beat up by bigger teams at the World Cup, getting a commitment from Embiid was the highest priority. France, where Embiid also has citizenship, was dealt a significant setback when the current NBA MVP choose Team USA.

That's also a reason 7-foot-1 rookie Chet Holmgren is one of the few young players on the list. Holmgren was MVP of the Under-19 World Cup in 2021.

Star big man Anthony Davis, who hasn't played in the Olympics since 2016, also entered his name into the pool.

Young guards Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton and Austin Reaves, all of whom were bright spots playing for the national team last summer, are included in the initial pool as well.

Additionally, Team USA announced a showcase game against Canada in a rematch of the bronze-medal game from the World Cup in Las Vegas on July 10 at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 PT. Tickets for that game and showcase games in London against South Sudan on July 20 and world champion Germany on July 22 are on sale at usab.com/tickets.

The full player pool is as follows:

Bam Adebayo, Jarrett Allen, Paolo Banchero, Desmond Bane, Scottie Barnes, Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges, Jaylen Brown, Jalen Brunson, Jimmy Butler, Alex Caruso, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Anthony Edwards, Joel Embiid, De'Aaron Fox, Paul George, Aaron Gordon, Tyrese Haliburton, James Harden, Josh Hart, Tyler Herro, Jrue Holiday, Chet Holmgren, Brandon Ingram, Kyrie Irving, Jaren Jackson Jr., LeBron James, Cam Johnson, Walker Kessler, Kawhi Leonard, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, Chris Paul, Bobby Portis, Austin Reaves, Duncan Robinson, Jayson Tatum, Derrick White and Trae Young.

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