(ATR) The U.S. Men’s National Basketball team will choose 12 players to compete at Rio 2016 next week knowing some of its biggest stars are not interested.
The most valuable player of the 2016 NBA Finals LeBron James officially added his name to the list of NBA stars not competing at the Rio Games on Thursday, telling Cleveland.com that he "could use the rest" coming off his third successful championship run and fifth straight trip to the Finals.
The taxing 105-game NBA season ended on June 19, allowing him just one month of rest before the USA Basketball training camp begins on July 18 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
James joins many other leaders from the London 2012 team that won Olympic gold who have decided not to join the national team this year due to injury rehabilitation or even concerns over the Zika virus, including Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Andre Iguodala and Russell Westbrook.
Other NBA stars who have opted out of participation in the Games include Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard, Andre Drummond, Kawhi Leonard, Kobe Bryant, Lamarcus Aldridge, John Wall, Blake Griffin and Gordon Hayward. Despite 15 of the world’s best players sitting out, USA Basketball still has a large pool of talent to choose from when finalizing the roster next week.
Players who have committed to joining the team in Rio include the leading scorer from London 2012 Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, Jimmy Butler, Demarcus Cousins, Paul George, Draymond Green, Deandre Jordan and Klay Thompson.
Butler, Cousins, George, Green, Jordan and Thompson will be making their international and Olympic debuts while Anthony will seek to become the first men’s basketball player to win three Olympic golds.
At the Team USA Media Summit in Los Angeles in March, USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo predicted that roster changes to the team would be inevitable.
"We may be in for a surprise or two at the end of the day, where someone is not going to make themselves available, but because of the depth on this roster, we could take a few hits and still be in great shape," Colangelo told ESPN.
Once the team is selected, head coach Mike Krzyzewski will lead a four-day training camp in Las Vegas before the team begins a five-game exhibition tour to prepare for the Olympics. The Team USA Basketball Showcase begins on July 22 and features games in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago and Houston. Argentina, China, Nigeria and Venezuela will provide the opposition.
The men’s Olympic basketball tournament begins on Aug. 6 with the gold medal game on Aug. 21. Team USA is seeking its third consecutive gold medal at the Games.
Written by Kevin Nutley
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