Kerr: Kawhi, rest of Team USA will report to camp

Kerr: Kawhi, rest of Team USA will report to camp

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Team USA coach Steve Kerr said Thursday that all 12 players selected for the Olympic team — including LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard — will be present and able to participate when training camp begins in Las Vegas next week.

“We’ve been in communication constantly,” Kerr said on a conference call with reporters. “So we expect all 12 guys to be ready to roll.”

Leonard, who will turn 33 on Saturday, missed the final three games of the Clippers’ season after his surgically repaired right knee didn’t respond how he hoped it would in Game 3 of the Clippers’ first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks. It was the fourth straight season he saw his playoffs end prematurely — or not happen at all — because of an injury.

“We are going to get it right,” he told reporters after playing 25 minutes in that game against the eventual Western Conference champions. “Time will tell. But we are doing all the right things.”

One thing that injury seemingly didn’t do was knock Leonard out of participating with Team USA, something that had been at least wondered about in NBA circles over the past few weeks.

Kerr made it clear that he expected Leonard and everyone else on the team to be available once training camp begins July 6.

“We’ve been monitoring this all along,” Kerr said. “We have been in touch with Kawhi and his people, and he’s been working out now the last couple of weeks. So this is, obviously every roster spot is important. You just never know how these things are gonna play out, with injuries, things can happen, you just don’t know. So we’re in touch with everybody, and we will continue to stay in touch with the whole group as we head into Vegas next week. And you never know how things play out. There’s always a chance for change.

“So I’d leave everything out there as a possibility, based on injuries, based on preparation, whatever it is. But at this point, we fully expect all 12 guys to be ready to go.”

That also includes Indiana Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton, who suffered a hamstring injury that ended his season in the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics. But Haliburton, while admitting he initially was concerned about being able to participate, said Thursday that he’s back to normal and fully ready to go for camp.

“I’ll be honest, I think when that happened against Boston and I knew I wouldn’t play the rest of the series, there was a little bit of concern for me,” said Haliburton, who had previously injured the same hamstring in January. “But I think that our medical team just did a great job of reassuring me that they had faith that I would be fine for this moment and if I did the appropriate things, kind of balancing rest, but at the same time strengthening it as well. Because I took time off from basketball, didn’t touch a basketball for three weeks, but trying to do movement, strengthening as well, because you gotta kind of do all of it.

“So I feel confident about it. I would say over the last, like, two weeks, I mean, ever since they said they didn’t have concerns, that allowed me not to really have any. Now that I’m really touching a basketball, moving a lot, I don’t really have any concern.”

In addition to the questions about injury availability heading into camp, the other lingering question is which five players Kerr will start from a star-laden roster. Kerr said that it’s something that remains up in the air and that the Las Vegas training camp will help determine it.

“It’s a great question, and my staff and I have talked about it quite a bit,” Kerr said. “It’s a good problem to have, but I’m guessing that all 12 players on this roster will be in the Hall of Fame someday. So how do you pick five out of 12? The idea is you find combinations that click and, and you find two-way lineups that can be effective at both ends.

“So our big job in Las Vegas is to find five-man combinations that fit and to just ask all 12 guys to fully commit to the goal of winning a gold medal no matter what it looks like, no matter who’s playing.”

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