Kawhi Leonard plans to reunite with Gregg Popovich in Olympic Games

2021-03-08T08:59:04+00:00 2021-03-08T08:59:04+00:00.

Giannis Askounis

08/Mar/21 08:59


With most NBA superstars awaiting clarifications, Kawhi Leonard is clearly on the path for Team USA this summer

By Johnny Askounis/ info@eurohoops.net

Kawhi Leonard aims to reunite with former head coach Gregg Popovich in the Olympic Games scheduled to be held this summer in Tokyo. Most of the remaining NBA superstars are not as clear in confirming their intention to represent the USA at the highest level of international basketball.

“My plan is to go,” Leonard confidently replied to a question regarding the Olympic Games. He discussed Team USA and the Olympics prior to the 2021 NBA All-Star Game held in Atlanta on Sunday.

Leonard, 29, played under Popovich at the San Antonio Spurs for seven seasons before moving on to the Toronto Raptors and his current team, the Los Angeles Clippers. The experienced head coach is still in charge at San Antonio but also serves as the Team USA head coach heading to the Olympics.

“It doesn’t really matter how much success that we have,” added Leonard referring to the USA held to seventh place in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, “If I feel up to it, if I feel ready to go around that time, then I’m going to play.”

The Olympic Games were originally slated for the previous summer window. The coronavirus pandemic pushed them back. The NBA has since adjusted its 2020-21 schedule aiming to accommodate players wanting to represent their country in Tokyo.

“A lot of people were in for 2020, but just the pandemic pretty much killed everything,” mentioned Leonard.

His stance was not generally echoed by fellow NBA superstars responding to similar questions in the buildup to the All-Star Game. It will be extremely complicated for players coming off a potential extended NBA playoffs run to meet the current deadlines and be part of the Team USA squad. Nevertheless, it seems like several top players are at least eyeing the Olympics.

“The Olympic Games have been on the radar. There a lot of questions in terms of scheduling. I am staying patient right now. I am talking to a lot of people in Team USA,” noted Stephen Curry, “Obviously, the second part of the NBA season is the priority right now.”

USA Basketball plans to hold a player training camp in July, during the NBA playoffs. Some players may miss out, but the real issue is the current deadline for registering the final squad, which may be altered.

The Olympic Tournament is scheduled to last between July 25 and August 7. A potential NBA Finals Game 7 can be played no later than July 22.

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