LeBron eyes US Olympic basketball return

Tim Reynolds
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James is in line for the US Olympic team in Tokyo

LeBron James is considering a return to the Olympics.

James - a two-time gold medallist and three-time Olympian - is among 44 players announced by USA Basketball on Monday as finalists for the team that will play in the Tokyo Games this summer.

James played in 2004, 2008 and 2012, helping the US win gold in his most recent two appearances.

The pool includes 19 players who have won a total of 31 gold medals in either Olympic or World Cup competition for the Americans - including nine players who captured the Olympic title for USA Basketball in Rio de Janeiro four years ago.

"I've always maintained that equity is important," USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told The Associated Press.

"And you earn equity by participating. So, we think they've earned the right to be named to the overall roster for USA Basketball. It's pretty elite. It's a tremendous pot and the good news is they've all said they want to play."

James has played in 68 games for the US national team and has said several times over the past year or so that he is thinking about another Olympics - after sitting out the Rio Games for a variety of reasons.

Part of the interest in participating this summer is to have the chance to play for US coach Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs.

"It's a possibility," James said in December.

There will be no tryouts. USA Basketball will pare the list down to a 12-person Olympic team by early June, those decisions to be made by a selection committee - and to be based in part on player availability and health.

Training camp will start in early July, potentially as little as two weeks after the end of the NBA Finals. The Olympics start on July 24.

The nine players still in the mix from the 2016 Olympic team: Sacramento's Harrison Barnes, Miami's Jimmy Butler, San Antonio's DeMar DeRozan, Brooklyn's Kevin Durant, the Los Angeles Clippers' Paul George, Golden State's Draymond Green, Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving, Toronto's Kyle Lowry and Golden State's Klay Thompson.