It’s a not-so-shocking development, but USA Basketball will reserve a roster spot for LeBron James if the Cleveland Cavaliers superstar wants to represent America during the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, although James isn’t expected to make a final decision until after the 2015-16 NBA season, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said James can accept or decline the invitation on his own timeline.
Colangelo addressed James’ status while attending Team USA’s minicamp in Las Vegas. He said of James:
“He will be in town during the course of this week. He won’t be participating in any practices to the best of my knowledge, but … he knows he has a [roster] spot.
“If he wants to perform — and I believe deep down inside he does — then I would expect that he will be playing for us next summer.”
Stein notes attendance—not necessarily participation—at the minicamp is mandatory for any player interested in representing the red, white and blue in Rio de Janeiro next summer.
James’ decision will likely depend on two primary factors. First, should the Cavaliers return to the NBA Finals, it will be the sixth straight year LeBron’s team plays more than 100 games. Even for an athlete of James’ caliber, resting during the summer is important.
Secondly, what is his desire to represent the United States in a major international competition, perhaps for the final time? Per Stein, James would become the first player in USA Basketball history to compete in four different Olympic tournaments.
LeBron deserves the chance to make his ultimate decision next summer, and it’s encouraging that Colangelo appreciates James’ value to the point where an immediate commitment is not required.
Photo: USA Today Sports