Kevin Durant has dropped a bombshell on USA Basketball by deciding to pull out of the FIBA World Cup in order to focus on his 2014-15 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder. It leaves a hole that simply cannot be filled for Team USA, as Durant was the best player the United States could put out there.
Here’s what Durant had to say in a news release sent out by Thunder Public Relations:
This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country. 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.
At this point, USA Basketball is going to have to scramble. They have a couple of options, including going back to those who have been cut, or deciding to keep an extra center. Either way, they’re not going to be able to replace Durant, who would have surely shined in this International setting.
As far as Durant is concerned, I applaud him. This isn’t the Olympics and Durant’s prime responsibility is to his NBA family. Just like Kevin Love and Kawhi Leonard before him, Durant has decided that resting and getting ready for the 82-game schedule (plus playoffs) was more important.
Whether or not the Paul George injury had anything to do with this is purely speculation, but one has to think that the image of George lying there with a compound fracture of his leg made Durant think twice about his longevity in the league and what he should be doing to prepare for the NBA season.