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USA Basketball finalizing 2024 Olympic team; Kawhi Leonard is leading candidate for final spot: Sources

USA Basketball finalizing 2024 Olympic team; Kawhi Leonard is leading candidate for final spot: Sources

Virtually all of the 11 players USA Basketball has chosen so far to take to the Paris Olympics were names already widely expected to be on the team. The intrigue remaining is who will fill the 12th and final spot.

Team USA, looking for its fifth consecutive Olympic gold in men’s basketball, selected LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker and Jrue Holiday, as well as Anthony Davis, Bam Adebayo, Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton, sources close to the players told The Athletic.

Numerous USA officials, including Grant Hill, managing director for Team USA, and Sean Ford, longtime general manager for USA Basketball, did not immediately return messages seeking comment, and there has been no official announcement from the program.

USA officials have begun notifying players who made the team and others who did not. In the case of those who made the team, USAB officials have traveled to present the players with special Team USA Olympic jerseys. Training camp for the Olympics doesn’t start until July 5, in Las Vegas, and Team USA’s first game isn’t until July 28 — but players will soon participate in content for Olympic promotion, sources close to the players said.

Teams are permitted to take 12 players to the Olympics. Kawhi Leonard is the leading candidate for the USA vacancy with Paul George, Paolo Banchero, Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson also under consideration, sources told The Athletic.

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Leonard, a favorite to make the team of both Durant and James, is battling a knee injury and his status for the start of the playoffs with the LA Clippers is unknown.

Like Haliburton and Edwards, who are headed to Paris, Banchero, Bridges and Brunson were members of the American 2023 FIBA World Cup team that finished fourth in that tournament.

In some respects, the core of this team has been known for months. Dating to September, the day after the Americans lost to Canada in the third-place game at the World Cup, The Athletic reported that James, Curry and Durant were at the forefront of a group of NBA superstars ready to commit to Team USA. Embiid made his public commitment to Hill in October, and along with those players, Booker and Holiday were reported to be a “lock” for the Olympic team in February.

Davis and Adebayo, two Olympic veterans, are obvious additions, given their size and defensive prowess, and Edwards and Haliburton are two young, dynamic guards who USA deep thinkers view as a bridge between the present and future of the American men’s national team.

Durant, the Americans’ all-time leading scorer, has three gold medals. James has two golds, and Tatum, Booker, Holiday, Davis and Adebayo have one. Curry played for Team USA on two World Cup teams and won gold twice, but has yet to play in the Olympics, and Embiid has never played in an international competition. James, 39, Curry, 36, and Durant, 35, have long viewed their potential partnership on Team USA for the Paris Games as a “last dance” for them within the USA program, especially as they near the end of their NBA careers.

Curry’s coach on the Warriors, Steve Kerr, is coaching Team USA again this summer, and will step down from the American team after the Olympics, he previously told The Athletic.

(Photo: Michael Owens / Getty Images)

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