Jr Holiday, Devin Booker Part of USA Junior Team for Paris Games: Sources

As USA Basketball officials work to put together the final roster of 12 NBA stars headed to the Paris Olympics this summer, a picture is starting to emerge about who will be on the team.

In recent USA Basketball discussions with stakeholders, Boston Celtics star guard, Olympic gold medalist and NBA champion Jrue Holiday, and Phoenix Suns guard and Olympic gold medalist Devin Booker were mentioned along with Kevin Durant and LeBron James. , Stephen Curry, and Joel Embiid. Jayson Tatum is the expected core of the team, barring injury, according to multiple NBA sources and sources close to the American team The athlete.

The sources said that at least some of them have already begun initial planning and public commitments related to their Olympic participation. Several U.S. officials said Wednesday that the final Olympic roster has not yet been determined.

Those same sources said that in addition to the seven heavyweights mentioned above, emerging stars Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Haliburton, who are members of the U.S. 2023 World Cup team, are under strong interest for the Paris Games. Edwards and Haliburton were two of the best players for the Americans last summer, on a team that finished a disappointing fourth at the World Cup in Manila.

If all nine of those players make the U.S. roster, there will be three players left for selection. Only Embiid is a “traditional” big man (in the modern sense of the position — he shoots 37 percent from 3-point range as a 7-footer), so the Americans will need to add more size. The Miami Heat's Bam Adebayo and the Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis are also strong candidates for the roster, and Davis said during All-Star weekend that he would play for the Americans if asked.

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James, who stands 6-foot-8 and still runs the floor like a freight train on offense but weighs more than 260 pounds, could play as the 4 in a lineup with Durant and/or Tatum on the wings.

Team USA, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in men's basketball, has a target date of sometime in the early rounds of the NBA playoffs to announce its roster in Paris, which means late April or May. There is still a big caveat for any player considered a lock, which is that player's health at the time of the announcement and then when training camp begins in early July. This is the main reason why, last month, the US team put together a list of 41 players from which the final team will be selected. If someone is injured or withdraws, Team USA will be able to continue dealing with potential replacements.

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U.S. officials — led by managing director Grant Hill, Sean Ford, who oversees day-to-day operations of the men's national team, and coach Steve Kerr — are still counting on Embiid, who underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus earlier this month but could return to the lineup. 76ers before the end of the regular season. A source said Embiid's plans to represent Team USA in the Olympics remain in place.

Veteran U.S. Olympians Durant and James had been publicly affirming their commitment to the Paris Olympics, and USAB simply couldn't keep them off the team if they wanted to play. Curry, who has never played in the Olympics, wants this year and the team (coached by Kerr, his longtime Warriors coach) to make his debut.

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Team USA has been following Holiday through most of the NBA season, and Holiday has fulfilled his commitment to USAB officials in recent weeks, sources said. Team officials appreciated Holiday's two-way ability, defense at the point of attack, and dynamic playmaking. Holiday was considered the second most important player on Team USA behind Durant at the 2021 Tokyo Games.

The draw will be held to determine the identity of the American team that will play in the opening round of the Olympic tournament in Lille, France, on March 19.

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(Photo: Winslow Townson/USA Today)

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