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Kawhi Leonard to play for Pop and Team USA — if he “feels up to it”

Kawhi gave the most Kawhi answer possible when asked about this topic at the All-Star game.

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

He was going to get asked about it sooner or later. With the 2021 Tokyo Olympics (postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic) looming this summer, many have been wondering if — unlike the 2019 FIBA World Cup — NBA superstars will show up, especially with the condensed NBA schedule and the big event scheduled to start just barely after the NBA Finals end.

A lot of that may depend on how far a player’s team goes in the playoffs, but one player many were eager to ask about his potential participation is former Spur Kawhi Leonard, who would be “reunited” with Gregg Popovich for the first time following his messy exit from the Spurs three years prior. So naturally, when asked during his media appearance at All-Star weekend, Leonard gave the most Kawhi answer possible:

“My plan is to go. If I feel up to it and feel ready to go around that time, then I’m going to play.”

“If I feel up to it.” — you can take that for what it’s worth about as much as anything he answers with “Yeah, for sure.” It’s worth noting that Leonard has yet to “feel up to” playing for Team USA during his career. While he participated with the 2012 Select Team, training with that year’s Olympic squad, he has otherwise turned down other offers, withdrawing from consideration for the 2016 Rio Olympics without giving a reason and never participating in the World Cup. Also of note, he still requires “rest” days, so apparently that chronic quad issue (that he initially denied was chronic) still exists, and he’ll have to consider the impact the Olympics will have on it, especially if the Clippers get past the second round of the playoffs.

If he does end up participating, there will definitely be some extra eyes on the Kawhi-Pop “reunion”, but nothing else should be taken from it from an NBA perspective. The deadline for players to submit their names for the team is July 5, although players are requesting more time. The NBA Finals will end on July 22 at the latest. The Olympics begin on July 23, with basketball starting on the 24th.