USA Basketball: It’s Too Early To Count LeBron James Out For The 2016 Olympics

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — As LeBron James said during the playoffs when asked about his potential participation in the 2016 Olympics, “that’s a long time from now.”‘

That’s three years from now to be exact, which is why it is far too early to count James out of competing in a fourth straight Olympics with the USA Basketball program he helped rebuild.

Despite reports to the contrary, James hasn’t informed anyone at USA Basketball about his intentions for 2016. USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo made it clear during this week’s mini-camp that he will give James and the other veteran stars who have competed previously space between now and then, the door will remain open for the future.

James, who already owns two gold medals and one bronze, could play in his fourth Olympic games that summer. But that would be after three more rigorous years of trying to add to his championship haul in the NBA. James has led the Miami Heat to back-to-back titles, earning consecutive Finals MVP awards, and will have endured considerable wear and tear to his body if he continues on his current and torrid pace.

There is also the potential for an exhausting free agent summer after the 2013-14 season, provided James opts to test the market after next season.

But again, so much can go on between now and 2016 that it’s nearly impossible to speculate about who will or will not be willing, able and available in three years. No U.S. male has ever played on more than three Olympic teams ( LeBron is one of only three players to participate three times. Carmelo Anthony and David Robinson are the others.)

“I’m sure all of these guys think they know what’s coming down the line and what they’ll be doing,” said an Eastern Conference executive who is in town this week for USA Basketball’s mini-camp for the Men’s Senior National Team. “But they should know better. Derrick Rose is the cautionary tale for all of these guys. It all depends on where [LeBron] is that year. How healthy is he? How tired might he be from grinding his way through the playoffs? You just never know.”

Kevin Durant and Kevin Love have already committed to participate in the World Cup of Basketball next summer in Spain and will surely be a part of the pool for 2016, provided they are healthy. Durant said there are several other stars from the team that won gold at the London Olympics last summer, he mentioned Russell Westbrook and James Harden specifically, who are interested in joining them.

When asked specifically about James, he said he hadn’t spoken to him about it. “Those guys are older,” he said and then laughed. “Their time is precious.”

Colangelo’s declaration that Durant is the “face of the program going forward” was acknowledgement of the obvious; he’s just 24 and has a larger window than James or any of the other older and more established stars. It was not an indication that James, Anthony and any of the other veteran stars are done with USA Basketball.

In 2016 James could very well play a role similar to what Kobe Bryant played in London. Bryant served as the elder statesman of the group and its leader, while stepping aside offensively and allowing Durant, Anthony and James to serve as the catalysts on the floor.

In the immediate aftermath of last summer’s gold medal run, the rumblings about U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski‘s run being over began percolating. Months later an announcement on his replacement was expected. But he had a change of heart and reaffirmed his commitment to the program and the process for the long-term. Simply put, things change. And Coach K’s influence on James in three years could be significant, if they decide his services are vital to the U.S. cause.

Plus, it’s hard to walk away or even take a step back when the U.S. is in the midst of reestablishing its dominance on the world stage. And the fact is, no one has a crystal ball. No one knows for sure who will be available for competition three years from now.

There is a ton of talent on display here this week and there will be even more NBA stars vying for spots on next summer’s team that will compete in Spain. There’s no doubt that the competition for roster spots will be fierce three years from now in an Olympic summer.

USA Basketball’s pool of talent should be as deep as its ever been, given the way the program has been reconstituted under Colangelo and Krzyzewski. New faces will pop onto the radar as more established ones move on or fade out of the program. There are All-Stars involved in the program that might never make a 12-man roster for a competition. But the surplus of talent will remain, with or without James included.

“The [three] things for all these guys; it’s contract, family and health. And any personal stuff is the reason we have the pool [of players],” Krzyzewski said. “Because anything that can happen human, can happen to Kevin Durant or Kevin Love. That’s why you need more than the main 12 guys. It’s worked well, it’s worked very well, so far.”


  1. Saif says:

    My lineup would be:

  2. qqqq says:

    Since its 2016 and most players have gotten way better i would have this lineup:

    PG- Rondo(my favorite point guard, and if he didnt get injured last season, people would call him the best point guard in the league now.)
    SG- James Harden
    SF- Durant
    PF- Lebron James
    C- Howard / Andre drummond(yes I said it) kid gonna be a star.

  3. RUNEGOOD says:

    Starting line up for 2016:

    PG- Russel Westbrook
    SG- James Harden
    SF- Kevin Durant
    PF- Lebron James
    C- Roy Hibbert


    Kyrie Irving
    Stephen Curry
    DeMarcus Cousins
    Kevin Love
    Paul George
    Carmelo Anthony
    Anthony Davis

  4. lr5 says:

    Some of you guys are including Parker who hasn’t even played a minute of college and LeBron along with other vets who most likely won’t play in the 2016 Olympics as most of them will be in their 30s. Chris Paul is the only vet of 6+ years who I can see in 2016.

    PG Paul/Irving/Curry
    SG George/Westbrook
    SF Leonard/Harden
    PF Durant/Griffin
    C Love/Davis

    Last spot is a toss-up

  5. Rambo says:

    PG: Chris Paul, Westbrook, Lillard
    SG: Harden, George,
    SF: Durant, Melo, Jabari Parker
    PF: LeBron, K Love
    C: Howard, L Aldridge

  6. usaaaaaa says:

    pg :chris paul/westbrook
    sg :george/ harden
    sf : durant/ carmelo
    pf: lebron/love

  7. andrew says:

    I feel it. New a sequel was going to happen eventually.

    “The Decision 2”

    Starring Lebron James

  8. usa says:

    not sure how I forgot that Wiggins is canadian. btw Carmelo wants to play and leBron is doubtful

    I think I finally made the perfect line up.

    SG:Harden/ George

  9. Banks says:

    PG. Rose/ Rondo
    SG. George/ Harden
    SF. LeBron/Durant/ Rudy Gay
    PF. Melo/ Love/ Davis
    C. D-Howard/ Hibbert

  10. omg_WHY says:

    Of course he will play. but he WILL NOT step aside for Durant etc. He will still be THE BEST player in the game 2016. I think he might even have pulled even further ahead of the pack by then.


  11. Marco29 says:

    I don’t see Love, who anyway is more of a PF, playing C at international level against taller opponents with FIBA rules.
    Team USA would need a true center and low post presence like Howard, Aldridge, etc…

    • Timbo says:

      Love played Center behind Chandler in the London Olympics. He’s 6’10, rebounds with the best, and can stretch the floor like most European big men. I do not understand how he could not play Center for USA in 2016.

  12. YYY says:

    I think they should do:

    PG – Rose/Irving
    SG – Harden or George/George or Harden
    SF – James/Melo
    PF – KD/Kevin Love
    C – Dwight Howard/Greg Oden or Nerlens Noel

  13. BBallDUDE says:

    LeBron will definetley play in the 2016 Olympics, as a fan of his, i know his “moves” lol! For me if i were the one to pick the starting lineup i’d go with Derrick Rose(PG), Kyrie Irving(SG), LeBron James(Just to keep him safe SF), Kevin Durant(PF), and i guess Kevin Love(C).

  14. Breezy says:

    Wiggins = Team Canada…

    PS. My team would


    Wild Cards:

    Derrick Rose
    Dwayne Wade

    If both are healthy which i highly doubt they will be, then wade goes in for thompson and rose goes in for Lillard.

  15. lebron will defently play in 2006, the line up would be
    D. Rose, Carmelo/P. George, Durant, .Lebron, K. Love

  16. usa says:

    Wonder what the 2016 team usa look like

    SG:Paul George/ Wiggins
    PF:Kevin Love/Durant
    C:Kevin Love/Griffin

  17. lr5 says:

    This would be my starting lineup for 2016 Olympics

    C Kevin Love
    F Durant
    F Leonard
    G George
    G Westbrook

    -Opposing teams would have to get RED HOT just to reach 70 points against such a quick, long and athletic team.
    -On offense Westbrook, George and Durant can all run the offense and all 5 players are capable 3-point shooters.

    • Man, whatch'a thinkin says:

      The 3’s don’t matter… They won’t get rebounds and they won’t get anywhere on defense. They also need a PG (CP3) to put out dishes. They need a more dominant Center for posting up…

  18. tv63 says:

    Lebron will be in the 2016 Olympics! Are you kidding he won’t.? He’s not about to let Kobe have one up on his legacy on the number of Olympic appearances. Lebron still feels he is young and doesn’t want to hand the torch to Durant just yet even in 2016. Wade, Kobe, D-Will ? Very doubtful.

    • TalkisCheap says:

      Lebron has one more than Kobe already Kobe would only tie him only Lebron, Carmelo, and David Robinson have appeared in three and if Melo or Bron go to Spain they will be the first to participate in 4

  19. Roderick says:

    Klay Thompson is good, but chill out with that LMAO

  20. B Radd says:

    I do ‘t understand why LeBron won’t be a part of this great team. He’s the face of the NBA and should relish every moment of being great and at his peak. Why Blake Griffin and Roy Hibbert are not in the fold is beyond me.

    My Dream US Team for FIBA World would be

    PG Kyrie, SG Klay Thompson, SF Paul George, PF Anthony Davis and C DeMarcus Cousins.

    • c'mon now says:

      thats a good lineup but put paul george at shooting guard and kevin durant at smaall forward

    • PSR says:

      It’s also in 2016 which would make him around 32. And when you come out of highschool, straight to the pros, that’s an “old” 32. So, he’ll have to see if his body can still take a full nba season, post-season, finsls (maybe), olympics and then straight into another season. That’s why he’s not giving an answer right now.

    • Esteban says:

      You don’t understand why? After a tough series against the Bulls, Pacers, and finally, the hardest test ever for LeBron James: the Spurs, after all that you ask why he shouldn’t take a break from basketball? Man, some people think basketball players are never-exhausting machines…