With 10 new players on this year’s USA Olympic men’s basketball team, head coach Mike Krzyzewski has a bit of a challenge ahead of him in getting ready for the Summer Games in Rio next month. But the Americans are still loaded despite the absence of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook, who chose not to participate this time around. Final preparations for the Olympics are being made in Las Vegas this week as the defending gold medalists opened camp and continue to jell.
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is seeking his third straight gold medal and fourth overall after he was part of the 2004 team with James that ended up with a bronze. Anthony has stepped up as the team’s leader this year while being joined by new Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, who also won gold in 2012. Durant recently signed a two-year deal with the Warriors worth a reported $54.3 million. Team USA defeated Spain 107-100 for the tourney title in 2012 and opened as a monster 1/10 favorite to win their 15th Olympic gold medal at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.
Westbrook, Durant’s former teammate with the Oklahoma City Thunder, was part of the 2012 team as well but withdrew from consideration along with James and Curry while Bryant recently retired following a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. That will put more pressure on Anthony and Durant but also give an opportunity to shine for other young stars such as Kyrie Irving of the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers, DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers and Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls, all of whom will be playing on their first Olympic team.
Team USA will be practicing in Vegas from July 18th through 21st before taking on Argentina in a tune-up for the Olympics on July 22nd at the new T-Mobile Arena. The Americans will then play two more exhibition games against China in Los Angeles and Oakland on July 24th and 26th, respectively. They wrap up their exhibition schedule by playing Venezuela in Chicago on July 29th and Nigeria in Houston on August 1st.