We already knew the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul were sitting out this round of USA basketball. In recent weeks we learned LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and then Kevin Love decided to pass on participating in the World Cup of Basketball. Then we all witnessed Paul George's gruesome leg injury.
Still, Team USA remained the favorite thanks to their depth -- and the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, Kevin Durant.
Not anymore. After joining his teammates in Las Vegas for the initial training camp session and one intra-squad scrimmage, Durant and Team USA announced his journey of international play this summer would no longer continue.
“This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country,” said Durant in a statement. “I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint. I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them.”
“Kevin reached out to Coach K and myself this afternoon and expressed that he is just physically and mentally drained from the NBA season and his attention to his many responsibilities. He tried to give it a go at our recent Las Vegas training camp but felt coming out of camp that he was not prepared to fulfill the commitment he made to the team,” said USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo. “Coach K and I fully support Kevin. His well being is the most important thing to us and we support him taking the time to get ready for next season. He’s been part of the National Team program for eight years and a big part of the success we have achieved, and we look forward to him being part of our success in the future as well.
“We are excited about the opportunity ahead of us and to getting back to work in Chicago on Aug. 14. All 15 players are committed to the USA Basketball standard, which is to come together to win gold medals.”
At this point, Durant is the only player to pull out following George's injury last Friday. Three players, including Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal, were cut from Team USA's roster. Now 15 players remain and 12 will head to Spain.
Obviously, there is still plenty of talent, especially in the backcourt, but other teams -- like Spain -- have studs as well. If Anthony Davis and James Harden - the only two members of the 2012 Olympic gold medalists on 2014 roster - can't help lead this Team USA squad to gold, then the U.S. will have to qualify next year for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Team USA probably remains the favorite. It will just be harder to stand on the top podium without Durant.
By the way, imagine how tired Durant would be if he still had Twitter. That KD2DC buzz is relentless.