Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant will participate with Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"I'm excited about it. I'm looking forward to it," Durant stated Monday, per ESPN.com's Royce Young.
Full Kevin Durant quote on free agency at his KD9 shoe release: pic.twitter.com/VtgkH5yVo8
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) June 20, 2016
Durant, 27, was brilliant for the Thunder during the 2015-16 season, averaging 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.2 blocks per game. Along with Russell Westbrook, he led the Thunder to the Western Conference Finals, where they blew a 3-1 lead against the Golden State Warriors.
Nonetheless, it was a great season for Durant and a reminder that he remains an elite player despite an injury-plagued campaign in 2014-15. It was also vital for Team USA to land a player of Durant's superstardom for this tournament.
Already, Team USA is without a long list of superstars, including Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge, John Wall, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, who are all out due to injury concerns, along with Westbrook and James Harden, who also previously announced they wouldn't be participating in Rio, per ESPN.com's Marc Stein.
Of course, the United States has the deepest pool of superstar talent in the world, so Durant will be surrounded by an incredibly talented cast, and the United States will be expected to once again win gold. But Durant will undoubtedly be one of the centerpieces of this team, and his performance in Rio will be under a microscope.
That certainly makes this an interesting summer for Durant, who is also set to hit free agency and will be the biggest name outside of LeBron James on the market. By the end of this summer, Durant could add a second gold medal to his mantle, which could be located in a new city.
Durant couldn't earn his first NBA title this season. This offseason, however, could be a transformational one.