LeBron James headlines star-studded list of 44 finalists for U.S. Olympic team

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

LeBron James is considering a return to the Olympics.

James, a two-time gold medalist and three-time Olympian, is among the 44 players announced by USA Basketball on Monday as finalists for the team that will play this summer in the Tokyo Games. James played in 2004, 2008 and 2012, helping the U.S. win gold in his two most recent appearances.

"My name is in the hat, and it's always predicated on one, my body, how my body is feeling at the end of the season. I hope to make a long playoff run," James said. "And then where my mind is, and then where my family's head is. So it's a lot of factors, but my name is in the hat."

The pool includes 19 players who have won a total of 31 gold medals in Olympic or World Cup competition for the Americans, including nine players who captured the Olympic title for USA Basketball four years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

"I've always maintained that equity is important," USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told The Associated Press. "And you earn equity by participating. So we think they've earned the right to be named to the overall roster for USA Basketball. It's pretty elite. It's a tremendous pot, and the good news is they've all said they want to play."

James has played in 68 games for the U.S. national team and has said several times over the past year or so that he is thinking about another Olympics after sitting out the Rio de Janeiro Games for a variety of reasons. Part of his interest in participating this summer is to have a chance to play for U.S. coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs.

There will be no tryouts. USA Basketball will pare the list down to a 12-person Olympic team by early June, with the decisions to be made by a selection committee and to be based in part on player availability and health. Training camp will start in early July, potentially as soon as two weeks after the end of the NBA Finals. The Olympics start July 24.

USA Basketball officials, including Colangelo and Popovich, have met with players in a variety of ways over the past several weeks. Some talks have been directly with players, some with their agents, some with their NBA clubs, sometimes a combination -- and, Colangelo noted, there were some instances when players reached out to express interest.

If a player is on the list, that means USA Basketball is convinced he wants to play.

"I feel very good about the response," Colangelo said.

Also included in the pool: 15 of the 16 players from the United States who are scheduled to play in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game and all 12 members of the team that represented the U.S. at last summer's Basketball World Cup in China, where the Americans managed only a seventh-place finish after roughly three-dozen players who were on the list at some point dropped out along the way.

The nine players still in the mix from the 2016 Olympic team: Sacramento's Harrison Barnes, Miami's Jimmy Butler, San Antonio's DeMar DeRozan, Brooklyn's Kevin Durant, the Clippers' Paul George, Golden State's Draymond Green, Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving, Toronto's Kyle Lowry and Golden State's Klay Thompson.

Back from the 2012 Olympic champion roster: James, the Lakers' Anthony Davis, Durant, Houston's James Harden, Cleveland's Kevin Love, Oklahoma City's Chris Paul and Houston's Russell Westbrook.

Back from the 2008 gold-medal squad: the Lakers' Dwight Howard.

Howard said he would "love to have another one."

"I carried around my gold medal for almost four, five years after we won it the first time. ... Everywhere I went," Howard said. "On the road, even during the season, I took it with me, and I'd just look at it every day, like, man, this is amazing that I got a gold medal. I'd love to have another one."

Those on the list with World Cup or world championship gold medals for USA Basketball but no Olympic golds at this point are Golden State's Stephen Curry, Cleveland's Andre Drummond and Denver's Mason Plumlee.

James and Paul won Olympic gold at Beijing in 2008, and James was part of the team that won bronze at Athens in 2004. If James joins this team, he will become the second four-time men's basketball Olympian for the U.S., joining Carmelo Anthony.

"I'm looking forward to coaching the U.S. Olympic Team, and I'm excited about the potential and possibilities this team has," Popovich said.

The Olympics could be a return to the court for players including Durant and Thompson, who have missed the entirety of this NBA season because of injuries. Durant's recovery from Achilles tendon surgery is at the point where he is doing some on-court work, and Thompson has said he would like to play if his surgically repaired knee is up to the challenge.

The 25 other players who are finalists for this summer's team: Miami's Bam Adebayo, San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge, Washington's Bradley Beal, Phoenix's Devin Booker, Indiana's Malcolm Brogdon, Boston's Jaylen Brown, Utah's Mike Conley, the Clippers' Montrezl Harrell, Brooklyn's Joe Harris, Philadelphia's Tobias Harris, Boston's Gordon Hayward, New Orleans' Brandon Ingram, the Lakers' Kyle Kuzma, the Clippers' Kawhi Leonard, Portland's Damian Lillard, Milwaukee's Brook Lopez, the Lakers' JaVale McGee, Milwaukee's Khris Middleton, Utah's Donovan Mitchell, Indiana's Victor Oladipo, Boston's Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum, Indiana's Myles Turner, Boston's Kemba Walker and San Antonio's Derrick White.

"The reason we have this big roster is a lot of things happen, a lot of variables," Colangelo said. "And what's to say what's going to happen from an injury standpoint between now and June? We don't know. So we have the rest of the season to monitor, to watch. But when we select our 12, they will be 12 who are absolutely in with all fours."

Davis said he hopes the five Lakers named as finalists end up playing.

"Hopefully, all five of us would be able to get on the team and just compete for a gold medal," Davis said. "You know, five guys who play hard; I think all five of us love representing our country. If all five of us get the chance to be on the Olympic team, it will be something cool to see."

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN's Dave McMenamin was used in this report.

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