For a country that has no lack of true ballers, the U.S. is having trouble forming a full squad for the FIBA World Cup training camp. The event tips-off a little over one month from now on August 31st, and today, a flurry of more NBA stars have withdrawn from participating.
Bradley Beal, Tobias Harris and Zion Williamson all took their names out of consideration. The reasoning always appears to be rather similar, with most player’s managers or team’s stating that the player would like to focus on the preparation for the upcoming NBA season. If you ask me, playing in the World Cup seems like a decent way to condition your body, but I also understand wanting to monitor your health in a less “risky” way.
Losing Williamson, in particular, feels like a real bummer. After being deprived of Summer League action from the rookie due to an injury in the first game, some looked forward to the possibility of seeing him in the Team USA jersey. Alas, we’ll have to wait for that photo-op.
These three players join a group of four other NBA standouts that decided not to participate: Anthony Davis, James Harden, Eric Gordon and CJ McCollum.
As it stands, the Team USA roster has 14 current members (the goal is to hit 20 members for training camp, 12 of which attend FIBA):
- Harrison Barnes (Won Gold Medal in 2016 Olympics)
- Andre Drummond (On World Cup Title team in 2014)
- Kyle Kuzma
- Damian Lillard
- Brook Lopez
- Kevin Love (Won Gold Medal in 2016 Olympics)
- Kyle Lowry (Won Gold Medal in 2016 Olympics)
- Khris Middleton
- Paul Millsap
- Donovan Mitchell
- Jayson Tatum
- P.J. Tucker
- Myles Turner
- Kemba Walker
- Head Coach: Greg Popovich
In terms of what it could be, that’s not the best-looking roster, but it’s also not a bad one. The biggest eyes will be on All-Star’s Kemba Walker and Damian Lillard as the weeks pass by. I wouldn’t be shocked if either of these players decided to opt-out as well. However, according to the New York Times Marc Stein, Walker should be hanging around, along with the Bucks Khris Middleton.
Amid a flurry of roster withdrawals, at least two NBA All-Stars — Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton — intend to stick with Team USA this summer for the @FIBAWC in China from Aug. 31-Sept. 15, league sources say
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 22, 2019
This situation isn’t anything new for Team USA. Back when the Olympic team was being organized in 2016, major NBA talent like Steph Curry, LeBron James, Chris Paul, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kawhi Leonard and more all chose not to play during the Olympic games. Either way, a depleted roster means an opening remains for a number of NBA players out there. As the superstar number drops down, we’ll get into a larger pool of worthy players … possibly Bulls players!
I don’t think it’s crazy to imagine Zach LaVine getting an invite. Especially after last season, the player is shaping up to be one of the better shooting guards in the league. He could compliment this roster nicely as another strong primary ball-handler and go-scoring threat. I mean, I know the guy isn’t busy, according to his most recent Instagram stories, he has just been chilling in his new 1968 Pontiac LeMans.
Although, unlike LaVine, according to The Athletic, recently signed forward Thaddeus Young actually does sit on the list as possible replacement options for Team USA. Alongside Young are Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, among others.
Give the men a call, you cowards!