Kawhi Team USA hope
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2019 themercury.com.au SUBSCRIPTIONS 1300 696 397 TORONTO Raptors star Kawhi Leonard could still play at the World Cup in China, as well as the warm-up matches in Australia in August, according to Team USA officials.
Leonard was not named in Team USA’s 20-man squad announced on Monday.
National team managing director Jerry Colangelo said an invitation was extended to the Raptors small forward to be part of the training camp squad but he is yet to respond.
However, Colangelo said Team USA will seriously consider Leonard if he commits to the World Cup.
“If certain individuals reached out and said they wanted to participate, we’d certainly take a hard look at that,” Colangelo said. “That includes him [Leonard].”
Golden State duo Steph Curry and Clay Thompson have yet to declare their availablility as they are still playing in the NBA Finals and, like Leonard, they will be invited to join the squad.
Colangelo is also anticipating that players will potentially withdraw from Team USA’s training camp squad because of factors such as contract extensions. “There are things that come up during the course of life,” he said. “Be it injuries, personal things, contracts.
“There could be additions and there might be a deletion or two. Some contract situations may take them out of the mix. There are no guarantees.”
Team USA coach Gregg Popovich is excited about taking on an Australian team featuring his veteran San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills. Popovich believes the Boomers possess the ability and smarts to beat anyone at the World Cup, starting on August 31.
“It is a talented group,” he said about the Australians.
“They are NBA players for a reason. Beyond that I think the group has a wonderful basketball IQ. They are basketball players. They are not just oneon-one players. They are people who understand how to play and they enjoy playing with each other.
“They’ve played together a lot and they are experienced. I expect the Australians to be a major factor.”