It is going to be a busy summer for Kevin Durant. The Oklahoma City Thunder superstar is the best player to hit unrestricted free agency since LeBron James and figures to entertain several suitors, one of which figures to be the Golden State Warriors. Whether Durant joins the team that eliminated OKC this spring or not, he has a lot of thinking to do. Add in the requisite workouts to improve, and he's going to have little time for a vacation.
Given those important tasks, it seemed likely that Durant would not represent the United States at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro this August. Durant confirmed his inclusion at his KD9 shoe release on Monday, and a report from Marc Stein of ESPN.com adds several stars as locks to join him:
Durant confirmed Monday at his KD 9 shoe release in Austin, Texas, that he planned to play for the United States in Rio de Janeiro this summer.
"I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to it," he said.
"We talk so much about workload now, we knew all these guys were going to. We talk so much about minutes being played and resting guys during the year and the workload and it's too many games, I knew guys were going to think about that," Durant said.
"It's natural. It's a part of it. You can respect it. But I want to play though. I just want to hoop." [...]
Sources say Indiana's Paul George and Golden State's Klay Thompson are also considered locks alongside Durant for the 12-man Olympic roster that will be revealed in the coming days, joining Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, whose inclusion was first reported by The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears earlier this month.
A source also told Spears on Monday that Warriors forward Draymond Green has accepted an invitation to play for Team USA. [...]
[Jerry] Colangelo also said that the final roster is on course to be made public no later than June 27.
Durant's inclusion comes as something of a surprise. Several notable stars have already opted not to play in Rio, including Stephen Curry, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis. Chris Mannix of The Vertical reported Monday that LeBron James is very unlikely to participate, as well.
All signs pointed to Durant joining that group. His free agency figured to eat up a lot of his time, he removed himself from consideration for the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball, and growing concerns about Rio's ability to put on the event sure didn't seem positive. Many players, including Durant, have opted out of major tournaments before with far fewer responsibilities.
Apparently Durant's desire to play and win outweighed those issues. His statement does not act as an official confirmation of his inclusion, but it's probably as close as we'll get until USA Basketball releases the 12-man roster. With Durant leading those aforementioned names and the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Damian Lillard ready to join them, the Americans figure to be heavy favorites to go undefeated on the way to a third consecutive gold medal.
Of course, the same would be true if every single one of these players decided not to play. The roster pool is that deep.
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