LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Kevin Durant will spearhead a powerful United States basketball team chasing a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal after being named in the squad for next month’s Tokyo Games on Monday.
Brooklyn Nets star Durant was included in a 12-man roster which will be led by San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich with assistant coaches Steve Kerr, Lloyd Pierce and Jay Wright.
Several notable NBA stars are not part of the squad, including LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Steph Curry.
James had indicated after the Los Angeles Lakers’ playoff exit that he planned to concentrate on his fitness, along with team-mate Anthony Davis, who spent large parts of last season dealing with injuries.
Golden State Warrior star Steph Curry is also skipping the Olympics after previously indicating an interest in playing Tokyo.
The squad contains only three players — Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Milwaukee duo Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday – currently playing in the NBA playoffs.
The NBA finals are scheduled to finish on July 22 — a day before the Olympics open in Tokyo on July 23.
“I’m happy for the selected players and looking forward to having the opportunity to work with this wonderful group when practice gets under way on July 6 in Las Vegas,” said Popovich.
“I’m excited to represent the United States in our quest to earn a gold medal in Tokyo.”
USA men’s team managing director Jerry Colangelo said the disruption caused by the pandemic, which forced the 2020-2021 NBA season to run later than usual, had made selection of the team “challenging”.
“We are excited about the 12 players who have been selected to represent the United States in the Tokyo Olympics,” said Colangelo.
“This was an unusually challenging selection process for many reasons, including the year postponement of the Olympics and the issues related to the timing of the NBA regular season and playoffs.
“We also believe we have excellent leadership which is a necessity in order to develop the needed chemistry.
“We still have a lot of challenges in front of us, but I believe these players will become a team that all Americans will be proud of.”
Durant, a member of the 2012 and 2016 gold medal-winning US teams, is just the fourth US male basketball player named to three or more Olympic teams, joining Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and David Robinson.
US Olympic basketball squad: Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Devin Booker (Phoenix Suns), Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets), Jerami Grant (Detroit Pistons), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), Jrue Holiday (Milwaukee Bucks), Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers), Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks) and Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)