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Clippings: Kawhi Leonard wants to play in the Olympics this summer

It would be the first time Leonard has played for Team USA.

Team USA Basketball Showcase Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Kawhi Leonard has big plans for the summer. For the first time in his professional career, Leonard would like to represent Team USA in an international competition, as he told Joe Vardon during his All-Star media availability.

Leonard was part of the select team that trained with the Olympic team in 2012, and he has attended USA minicamps in the past, but he has never competed internationally, one of the few gaps in his increasingly decorated career. If Leonard wants to play and is healthy, he would assuredly be a lock for the national team as the United States hopes to move past an embarrassing effort at the 2019 World Cup. Currently, there are 44 finalists for the 12-man roster, but let’s not mince words — Leonard is at or near the top of that list.

There would still be some intrigue, however, even if it isn’t regarding his ability to make the team. The national teams have to submit their rosters by July 5 for the July 23 start date, and training camp for Team USA is supposed to be the week of July 4, but the Finals are scheduled to run through July 22. If the Clippers make an extended run in the postseason, that could complicate Leonard’s availability. Furthermore, the head coach of the national team is Gregg Popovich of the Spurs, and Leonard memorably had a less-than-pleasant exit from San Antonio back in 2018.

It would be exciting to see Leonard on the international stage for the first time if the Olympics end up happening. Only one player has ever been Finals MVP and a gold medalist the same summer. Could Leonard be the next one?

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