<
>

Kevin Durant still intent on playing in Rio after free agency

Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant remains intent on playing in this summer's Olympics after his looming free agency, unmoved by the recent withdrawals of a few high-profile names.

Durant confirmed Monday at his KD 9 shoe release in Austin, Texas, that he planned to play for the United States in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

"I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to it," he said.

Several star players withdrew their names from consideration earlier this month, including ‎Golden State's Stephen Curry, Houston's James Harden and Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook.

"We talk so much about workload now, we knew all these guys were going to. We talk so much about minutes being played and resting guys during the year and the workload and it's too many games, I knew guys were going to think about that," Durant said.

"It's natural. It's a part of it. You can respect it. But I want to play though. I just want to hoop."

Sources say Indiana's Paul George and Golden State's Klay Thompson are also considered locks alongside Durant for the 12-man Olympic roster that will be revealed in the coming days, joining Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins, whose inclusion was first reported by The Undefeated's Marc J. Spears earlier this month.

A source also told Spears on Monday that Warriors forward Draymond Green has accepted an invitation to play for Team USA.

Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, sources say, is regarded as a near certainty to claim a spot on the roster as long as he remains available.

USA Basketball, sources say, is still waiting to see whether New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony will make himself available for Olympic duty, while Cleveland's LeBron James had said in recent days that he wouldn't make a firm decision about Rio until after the NBA Finals.

USAB chairman Jerry Colangelo told ESPN in a recent interview that he and coach Mike Krzyzewski have been preparing one roster "with LeBron and one without LeBron."

Colangelo also said that the final roster is on course to be made public no later than June 27.

Other names known to be getting prime consideration from USAB officials as they make their final selections include swingmen Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs) and Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls), big men Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons) and DeAndre Jordan (Los Angeles Clippers) and guards Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers) and Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies).

Six of the original 31 names in the Team USA ‎player pool have been ruled out because of injury: Curry (knee), New Orleans' Anthony Davis (knee, shoulder), San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge (hand), Washington's John Wall (knee) and the Clippers duo of Chris Paul (hand) and Blake Griffin (knee).

Westbrook and Harden announced that they were withdrawing from Olympic consideration on June 10.

ESPN's Royce Young contributed to this report.