Basketball / NBA

LeBron James, Kevin Durant named to Team USA's 44-man preliminary squad for Olympics

AFP-JIJI

LeBron James and injured superstars Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were named on Monday to a 44-strong preliminary pool of players in contention for spots on the U.S. Olympic basketball team.

A statement from USA Basketball named three-time Olympic champion James and Los Angeles Lakers teammate Anthony Davis to the group, which will eventually be whittled down to a 12-man roster.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team in Tokyo,” USA Basketball men’s team managing director Jerry Colangelo said in a statement.

“Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible.”

The U.S. squad, which will be chasing a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal following wins in 2008, 2012 and 2016, will be coached by San Antonio Spurs bench boss Gregg Popovich.

The list of contenders revealed that USA Basketball is keeping the door open for several players recovering from long-term injuries.

Golden State Warriors star Curry, who has been sidelined since breaking his left hand on Oct. 30, has long spoken of his determination to play in the Tokyo Olympics.

Curry, who is hoping to return to the Warriors next month, withdrew from the 2016 Olympics after knee and ankle problems.

Curry’s Golden State teammate Klay Thompson, who has not played at all this season after undergoing knee surgery in 2019, was also named to the pool. Thompson was a member of the U.S. team that won gold in Rio de Janeiro four years ago.

Durant has yet to play a game for the Brooklyn Nets after signing with the club in July. Durant, who is recovering from a ruptured Achilles, was a star on the U.S. gold medal-winning teams at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.

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