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.
Kawhi Leonard said he still plans to play for Team USA in the Tokyo Olympics— Joe Vardon (@joevardon) March 7, 2021
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?
More news for Monday:
- Leonard had eight points, eight assists, and nine rebounds in the All-Star Game Sunday, but his Team Durant lost to Team LeBron. Paul George 17 points, including five threes, for the victors.
- Nic Batum explains why he chose to join the Clippers.
- George says he thinks the Clippers/Lakers rivalry began in earnest when he and Leonard joined the Clippers.
PG on Los Angeles sports: "There's a real rivalry in the city, on Lakers and Clippers. I think now, with myself, Kawhi joining, we gained some traction and some steam on fans loving us and enjoying this team." pic.twitter.com/uRUA8H94DM— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) March 7, 2021
- George had an interesting comparison for teammate Terance Mann.
- After being waived by the Pistons, Blake Griffin is reportedly set to join the Nets. 10 years later, Griffin and Kyrie Irving will finally be teammates, closing the loop on a great Clippers what-if.
- Ten takeaways from the first half of the season.
- Why the players and team officials needed this All-Star Break more than any other.
- The WNBA players association, even as they’re spread around the world during their overseas seasons, are learning about the COVID-19 vaccine so they can educate Black communities.
- Who is the best NBA player to come from an HBCU?
- Meet the generation of point guards inspired by Kyrie Irving.