According to ESPN's Marc Stein, Kevin Durant has announced his intent to compete for Team USA during this summer's Olympic tournament. Durant, who missed 2014 international competition, is electing to play while many American stars have dropped out of the Rio games for various reasons.
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, meanwhile, tells ESPN's @RoyceYoung he is indeed still planning to play for Team USA this summer in Brazil.— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 6, 2016
Reigning MVP Stephen Curry is the latest NBA All-Star to forgo Olympic competition. As of this writing, LaMarcus Aldrige, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis, John Wall and Blake Griffin will each miss the summer's festivities. LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony's status for the upcoming Olympiad is still in question.
Players for other countries, such as Spain's Pau Gasol, have cited the Zika virus outbreak as a possible factor in skipping the Rio Olympics. The CDC has deemed the virus a "level two epidemic" while advising athletes and spectators to "practice enhanced precautions" if traveling to Brazil.
With Team USA battling a different bug, of the injury variety, Durant's desire to return for a repeat gold-medal run has USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo breathing a deep sight of relief. Durant led the 2012 USA Men's team in scoring, averaging 19.5 points. The 2014 NBA MVP torched perennial Olympic powerhouse Spain for 30 points in 2012's gold medal game.
Though Durant's coming off three foot surgeries during the 2015 season and entering this summer's free-agency as the premier attraction, perhaps the Olympic experience will serve as a welcome distraction for the ninth-year veteran.
For the 2016 season, Durant showed no ill effects of his previous foot injury, averaging 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds and five assists in 72 games played.