NBA

LeBron James ready to commit to Team USA for 2024 Olympics, but Lakers star’s recruiting push is no slam dunk

Don’t worry, Team USA. Captain America is here to save the day.

LeBron James is prepared to commit to the USA Basketball program ahead of next summer’s Olympic Games, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Joe Vardon, but he doesn’t plan on being the only star who makes the trip to Paris.

James has reportedly turned into a recruiter for Team USA, speaking to Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Jayson Tatum about joining him. Devin Booker, De’Aaron Fox, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard have separately expressed interest in committing, per Charania and Vardon.

After a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Team USA would love to see an influx of top-end talent as it seeks a fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal. However, USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill may want to proceed with caution.

Just because James seems to currently be on board with the idea of a “Last Dance” at the 2024 Olympics doesn’t mean that Hill can rely on him (and others) leading the group to gold.

MORE: Building the perfect Team USA roster for 2024 Olympics

Why LeBron James’ Team USA recruiting push is no slam dunk

This isn’t the first time LeBron James has teased a Team USA return

James, a three-time Olympian who last played at the 2012 Games, told Rachel Nichols in 2016 that he had not retired from international play despite missing the 2016 Games. He noted that he had “still left the door open.”

Then, in 2020, James said that his “name is in the hat” after he was named a finalist for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics squad.

“It’s always predicated on, one, my body, how my body is feeling at the end of the season — I hope to make a long playoff run,” James said at the time. “And then where my mind is, and then where my family’s head is. So, it’s a lot of factors, but my name is in the hat.”

Even a younger, more durable player like Tatum could choose to withdraw from consideration because he is not physically ready to go after a deep playoff run with the Celtics.

It’s easy to commit to Team USA before training camps start. It isn’t so simple after a draining NBA season.

Will LeBron James influence Team USA roster decisions?

As Charania and Vardon noted, if James and the players with whom he has spoken are all on the roster, there would be just six spots left. Would James only commit if he had input on how the rest of the Team USA rotation is constructed?

As their FIBA World Cup performance showed, the Americans need more impactful frontcourt players. Montenegro, Lithuania and Germany outrebounded Team USA on the offensive glass 53-24 in three FIBA World Cup games, creating a huge gap in second-chance points.

If Hill wanted to add a traditional big man — The Sporting News’ Stephen Noh suggested someone like Brook Lopez — instead of a flashy perimeter name, would James support the move? This would be particularly important if Davis participates considering he doesn’t want to log major minutes at center.

(It’s also unclear if Joel Embiid, who has dual citizenship status with France and the United States, will play at the 2024 Olympics.)

Perhaps the answers to these questions won’t matter. Team USA has gone through this cycle before, most notably with the “Redeem Team” getting the program back on track in 2008.

But as Team USA head coach Steve Kerr said, “This is not 1992 anymore.” USA Basketball can’t just hope the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and his buddies sign up and dominate the competition.

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