NBA: LeBron James, Stephen Curry head USA Olympic basketball squad

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30, left) dribbles against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) in an NBA basketball game on Christmas Day last month.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30, left) dribbles against Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) in an NBA basketball game on Christmas Day last month. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - NBA superstars LeBron James and Stephen Curry were named on Monday (Jan 18) in a 30-man provisional squad, from which the final United States Olympic basketball squad will be chosen.

Curry was one of five players from the NBA champion Golden State Warriors included in the squad, joining Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala.

Cleveland Cavaliers star James and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans are three-time Olympic medalists aiming to head to Rio de Janeiro in August for a fourth Games.

The 30-man squad will eventually be whittled down to 12 players later this year.

"Obviously selecting the official roster of 12 players for the Olympics in 2016 will be a very, very difficult process," said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo, the managing director of the USA Men's National Team since 2005.

"As has been the case with past USA Basketball teams, the goal once again is to select the very best team possible to represent the United States.

"The depth of talent that exists in the national team program is extraordinary. Repeating as gold medalists at the 2016 Olympics will not be easy, but we feel confident that we have 30 finalists who offer amazing basketball abilities and special versatility."

The 30 players represent 17 different NBA teams, with the Warriors leading with five while the Cavaliers and Clippers each feature three players.

Retiring Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant formally withdrew from consideration last week, saying he wanted to free up space for the next generation of US players.

"These are the guys who deserve the spots in Rio. These are the guys who people need to watch and root for," said Bryant, a member of gold medal winning USA teams in 2008 and 2012.