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Source: Kings’ DeMarcus Cousins will play for U.S. in Olympics

Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has earned a spot on the U.S. National Team that will compete in the upcoming Summer Olympics.
Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins has earned a spot on the U.S. National Team that will compete in the upcoming Summer Olympics. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Some of the NBA’s best players have withdrawn from consideration for the Summer Olympics to rest or recover from injuries.

That’s not DeMarcus Cousins’ plan.

The Kings’ All-Star center has been told he will play for the United States in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, a league source said Friday.

The source requested anonymity because he did not have authority to speak on the matter.

Training camp for the Olympic team begins July 18 in Las Vegas, where the first exhibition game is scheduled for July 22 against Argentina. The Olympics are set for Aug. 5-21.

All-Stars Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Anthony Davis and LaMarcus Aldridge will miss the Olympics to recover from injuries. Russell Westbrook announced Friday he was withdrawing from consideration from the team but didn’t say why.

Widely regarded as the best center in the NBA, Cousins was a second-team All-NBA selection for the second consecutive season after averaging 26.9 points (fourth in the NBA), 11.5 rebounds (fifth in the league) and 3.3 assists.

Cousins, a two-time All-Star, played on the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the FIBA World Cup in 2014.

With Griffin, Davis and Aldridge out, the Olympic team is running out of skilled big men to go with Cousins, but their withdrawals solidified his status on the squad.

Since the end of the Kings’ season in April, Cousins has prepared for the Olympics by trying to ensure he is healthy. He underwent a medical procedure for tendinitis in his feet that bothered him this season.

Cousins’ 2014-15 season ended early because of foot and ankle injuries, too.

As long as Cousins is healthy, the Kings have no objections to his participation in the Olympics. The Games have been a goal of Cousins’ since he played on the USA Select Team in 2012, which trains with and scrimmages against the national team.

Cousins made the leap to the national team for the World Cup in 2014; the Kings hoped it would help him grow as a leader.

Sacramento was off to a good start until Cousins contracted viral meningitis, which sent the Kings into a tailspin that led to the firing of coach Michael Malone. It could be said the team has yet to recover from that decision.

Kings forward Rudy Gay, who also played for the United States in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, is a candidate for the Olympic team. Sacramento center Willie Cauley-Stein is on the USA Select Team.

Gay, a small forward for the Kings, could earn a spot on the Olympic team by showing he can play power forward in international competition, which he did in the FIBA World Cup.

After playing for the national team, Gay averaged a career-high 21.1 points in 2014-15. That dipped to 17.2 points per game this season as Gay never meshed with coach George Karl’s style of play.

Cousins is the first King to make the Olympic team since Mitch Richmond earned a gold medal in 1996 in Atlanta.

Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones, read more about the team at sacbee.com/kings.

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