By Barry Janoff
January 23, 2014: The calendar may show that the Winter Olympics in Sochi are just two weeks away, but USA Basketball is already eying the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Paul George, Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul are among 28 NBA players who have been selected by USA Basketball to be part of the initial USA National Team pool, from which will come the 12-man squad to represent the U.S. at the next Summer Olympics.
Players will also participate in other events including the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Basketball World Cup, to be held Aug. 30-Sept. 14 in Spain.
The 2014-16 USA National Team roster includes a total of 12 Olympians who have captured a combined 16 gold medals and two bronze medals, and seven members return from the USA Basketball team that captured the 2010 World Championship.
The 28 NBA players represent 20 NBA teams, with the Golden State Warriors leading the way with four players from its current roster.
The 2014-16 USA Basketball National Team will be led by USA head coach and Duke University’s Naismith Hall of Famer Mike Krzyzewski, who coached the U.S. to gold in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
“This is the first step of building the USA Basketball National Team pool of players for 2014-16. This roster is extremely talented, deep and versatile,” Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball chairman and National Team managing director, said in a statement. “We are very fortunate to have 11 of the 12 members who won gold at the London Olympics wanting to be part of the national team program again. To receive that kind of commitment is remarkable and it demonstrates how much it means to our players to represent USA Basketball and their country."
The roster could fluctuate over the next couple of years, according to Colangelo, potentially opening up spots for current top collegiate hoops players who might enter the NBA in the next two drafts. That could include current college freshman such as Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Jabari Parker (Duke), Julius Randle (Kentucky) and Andrew Wiggins (Kansas).
"Because of injuries and circumstances that will develop where players won’t be able to participate, we know we need flexibility with the roster and as we did in 2006-08 and 2010-12," said Colangelo. "The pool of players will be fluid, so you will see the addition of players as they emerge and as they are needed.”
For now, the 28 players include three-time Olympic medalists and two-time Olympic gold medalists Anthony (New York Knicks) and James (Miami Heat); two-time Olympic gold medalists Paul (Los Angeles Clippers) and Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets); 2012 Olympic gold medalists Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans), James Harden (Houston Rockets), Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors), Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder); and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets).
“We are very fortunate to have 11 of the 12 members who won gold at the London Olympics wanting to be part of the national team program again."
Also on the roster is Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), who was originally named to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team roster but was unable to participate because of an injury.
Returning to national team roster after capturing gold at the 2010 FIBA World Championship are Chandler, Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Durant, Iguodala, Love, Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls) and Westbrook.
Completing the USA National Team roster are NBA players LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets), Paul George (Indiana Pacers), Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz), Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers), Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks), David Lee (Golden State Warriors), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) and Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors).
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