Klay Thompson: Five Warriors on Team USA would be 'awesome'

ByNick Friedell ESPN logo
Friday, October 12, 2018

STANFORD, Calif. -- Not only do the Golden State Warriors have a chance to win a third straight NBA championship this season, they also can become the first NBA franchise to land five players on Team USA.

On Thursday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was named an assistant on Gregg Popovich's Team USA staff for this summer's Basketball World Cup in China and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. In the wake of that news, 2016 gold medalist Klay Thompson said the possibility of representing his country alongside Golden State teammates Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins would be special.

"That would be awesome," Thompson told ESPN. "I don't know if that's ever happened in the history of the NBA, so that would be awesome. It gets me excited just thinking about it."

The possibility gained steam after USA Basketball announced that Kerr would be on Popovich's staff, along withIndiana Pacerscoach Nate McMillan and Villanova coach Jay Wright. USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo says all five Warriors players have made known their interest in playing and will be considered as Team USA starts to take shape over the next few months.

"The first thing we had to determine, and we think we have a pretty good feel for this, is who's really committed," Colangelo said during a conference call. "Who's really interested in moving forward with us. There are a lot of candidates on the Warriors who have indicated they wish to be part of it. ... Basically we have to monitor what's happening during the course of the regular season in the NBA as it relates to injuries, as it relates to other circumstances that come up before we get down to really inviting the number of individuals that we plan to, to come to our camp next summer in preparation for the World Cup."

Colangelo noted that Kerr wasn't chosen so that it would help get players such as Curry and Durant to sign up for another run with USA Basketball -- but the relationships the coach has formed with his players can't hurt.

Durant won gold medals for Team USA in 2012 and 2016, and Green and Cousins each won one in 2016 as well. Warriors reserve Andre Iguodala won in 2012. Curry, who has yet to participate in an Olympics, helped Team USA win gold in the 2010 World Championships and the 2014 World Cup.

"I hadn't thought about it, to be honest," Curry said of the possibility of having five Warriors playing for Team USA. "I'm worried about these nine months that we got till June. Obviously, if that's the way it shapes out, that would be amazing. ... USAB's done a great job of putting together the right talent. Obviously there's a lot to pick from. [USAB has] the right leadership with [Mike Krzyzewski] and his staff and now Coach Popovich and his staff, so that's why I've been happy to be a part of that in the World Championship, World Cup situations and hopefully the Olympics in two years. We'll see what happens."

There's also no guarantee all five players will be with Golden State when Team USA announces its final roster ahead of the World Cup, which starts in late August. Cousins signed a one-year deal with the team, and Thompson and Durant could leave via free agency.

For his part, Thompson is fully committed to trying to win another gold medal in the 2020 Games.

"I would love to," he said. "I had such a great time playing for Team USA. I'm undefeated in my Team USA career. I would love to go back."

Kerr, who was a part of the 1986 Team USA squad that won the World Championships in Madrid, is excited about his upcoming Olympic experience. He tried out for the 1988 team that went to Seoul but did not make the final cut.

"I'm really, really excited," Kerr said after Thursday's practice. "Especially because it's Pop. But obviously it's an honor no matter who's coaching to represent your country. To be on the staff of the national team is a huge honor. I get the best of both worlds. I get to be on the staff and I get to work with Pop. So I'm really excited about that."

As for the possibility of having five of his players on Team USA at the same time, Kerr wouldn't let his mind wander that far yet.

"We don't know what the team's going to look like exactly," Kerr said. "But I'm hoping that happens. We'll see -- I'm a tough critic. We'll see if they make the team or not."

Kerr spoke with a bit of a smile about that last part, the same kind of sense of humor Curry used when asked about Kerr's presence on the new Team USA staff.

"That decision really ruined my chances of playing," Curry said sarcastically. "I don't want to see Coach [Kerr] more than I have to. Coach Popovich should have known that before he hired Steve that nobody wants to play for Steve. It's an unfortunate situation."

For Thompson, the idea of being with Kerr during an Olympic cycle sounded great.

"I still got to make the team," Thompson said. "But that would be phenomenal. That would be great. That would be awesome. That would be pretty sweet."

As far as LeBron James' potential involvement is concerned, Colangelo indicated that James still has an interest in returning to play for Team USA. James played in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Games and hasn't shut the door on one more run with the national team.

"LeBron, he did the workout for the day and a half that we worked out last summer," Colangelo said. "Which was more of a get-together, just to get a read on players who -- who was in, who was thinking maybe, maybe not [playing]. LeBron did show; to me, that's an indication he has interest in playing.

"But the season, the season takes its toll on players. And as players age, it takes a little bit more toll. So we monitor, we'll stay in touch. We'll see how things [come together], and each player's going to make their own individual decisions on whether or not they want to commit and participate."

Related Video