USA Basketball to have Olympic camp in Las Vegas; Damian Lillard interested in joining team

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USA Basketball to have Olympic camp in Las Vegas; Lillard interested in joining originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

USA Basketball’s men’s and women’s national teams have announced they will hold training camps in Las Vegas in July, their last stop before heading to Tokyo for the Olympics.

Each team will play seven exhibition games against other teams heading to Tokyo.

The men will begin their training camp on July 6, led by Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.

Blazers guard Damian Lillard is currently listed among 57 finalists for the team reportedly has a “strong interest” in participating in the Olympics.

Before the 2020-’21 season began, Lillard had stated he wouldn’t play in the Olympics if the Blazers became NBA champions.

The team failed to do so, losing in the first-round to the Nuggets.

Being part of Team USA is something Lillard has long been trying to accomplish.

In 2014 he was one of the last players cut from the team’s FIBA World Cup roster, with the program prioritizing Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, and Derrick Rose.

"Any time I go into a situation I want to have a real opportunity," Lillard said on the snub. "If I'm going to invest myself in something, I want to have a real opportunity in that. Last time I did that, I felt the decision was already made before the decision was made. Whether I played good or bad, I felt like it didn't matter."

Two years later, Lillard wasn’t initially named a finalist for the 2016 Olympic team. Lillard expressed his desire to be part of the program to Jerry Colangelo and was added a month later.

As the months went on and that NBA season ended, Lillard became non-committal on joining the team. USA Basketball had already lost John Wall, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and LeBron James. 

Lillard seemed to be in a good position to make the time.

The problem is he felt pressured into a decision, as he was completing a tour of his sneaker. Lillard eventually withdrew his name from consideration to rehab his Plantar Fasciitis injury.

The relationship between Team USA and Lillard has been an interesting one. 

With Lillard turning 31 in July, this summer may be his only real chance to compete for a gold medal.

A lot has changed since 2016, as Lillard has emerged as one of the best guards in the league and is coming off a postseason in which he averaged 34.3 points and 10.2 assists on 46.3% shooting, 44.9% from three, and 94% from the free-throw line.

He would seem to have as good a shot as anyone to make the team.