This has been a bit of a different year for Team USA basketball. We know that Popovich took over for Coach K as the head coach for Team USA, but with the change in the FIBA World Cup schedule he hasn’t coached yet. Jeff Van Gundy has coached a team made up of mostly G League players through World Cup qualifying so far but now we’re starting to get the A team together for the 2019 World Cup.
Las Vegas is currently hosting Summer League as the championship game is tonight, but its about to host training camp for Team USA, something that it typically does. It’s one of those practices that I’d kill to go to. I mean you’re talking about Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Damian Lillard and more in the same place.
One of the names not listed there is LeBron James, who is on the 35-man player pool but won’t be at training camp according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. It’s not a surprise as we see guys skip training camp, especially when it’s not their first time around. The question will be if LeBron plays in the 2019 World Cup or 2020 Olympics after he skipped the 2016 Olympics in Rio. James did play in 3 Olympics already, starting back in 2004. Ever since Larry Brown screwed up the 2004 team, we’ve seen each team have a veteran on the roster and could see LeBron be the Jason Kidd/Kobe Bryant in the 2020 Olympics.
But, that’s not the story here. One of the names that is expected to be in Las Vegas is Kawhi Leonard. This will be the first time Pop and Kawhi are on the basketball court together in months and the first time we’ll see them out in public together since the reports came out that Kawhi wants to be traded from San Antonio.
This is what I’m here for. Yeah, I’d love to watch these dudes go up against each other in drills because I’m a a nerd like that, but I also want to see Kawhi and Popovich. Kawhi was always viewed as a robot but is now seeing some emotions and seeing him and Pop put on a show of civility will be a great picture.
I’m also a sucker for international hoops, so I’m excited for all the stories and reports that come out of Team USA. The US is currently 2nd in FIBA Americas qualifying with 11 points – tied with Argentina for the most points. The top-3 qualify for the FIBA World Cup in China next year. The US won the last World Cup in 2014 beating Serbia 129-92 in the finals. That team had a starting five of Anthony Davis, Steph Curry, Kenneth Faried, James Harden and Kyrie Irving.