Kevin Durant has decided to withdraw himself from Team USA’s FIBA World Cup roster. Marc Stein of ESPN.com dropped the bomb:
Hearing Kevin Durant is poised to announce his withdrawal from Team USA's World Cup trip to Spain. NOT Paul George related, I'm told
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 7, 2014
His bomb was followed by Durant’s announcement bomb, which didn’t cite Paul George’s injury for his decision, per Jeff Zillgitt and Adi Joseph of USA Today:
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.
Everything Durant says, as per usual, is both honorable and believable. Of course he’s exhausted. The man played into the Western Conference Finals and had to carry the Oklahoma City Thunder for much of last season without Russell Westbrook. And let’s not forget Serge Ibaka went down for a bit as well during the postseason. And let’s also not forget that this comes on the heels of Durant playing through almost an entire playoff campaign without Westbrook in 2013.
That Durant has held up for as long as he has, frankly, is surprising. He’s not built like your typical iron man. When he wages rim assaults, he always looks one misstep away from being snapped in half. And yet he’s only missed 16 games through the first seven years of his career. So, yes, he’s tired.
Did this really have nothing to do with George’s season-ending, potentially career-altering injury, though? Tough to say. Far be it from us to read Durant’s mind, but would he come right out and say it if this were true? That’s also tough to say.
One has to imagine it played some sort of a role, however minor, in his decision. Durant’s tracking toward free agency in less than two years. Suffering a severe injury that could ruin his career and/or substantially damage his market value is the last thing he needs—especially with these ongoing shoe negotiations he’s involved in.
Not lost in all this is Team USA’s fate. They’re still wildly talented, even without Durant and George. Let’s not fool ourselves into believing otherwise. But they suddenly look shaky. More than ever, they’re going to rely on the play of their guards. And Anthony Davis. Definitely him, too.
Will that be enough to supersede teams like Spain and Argentina in the upcoming World Cup? It should be.
Is that just my global ignorance or patriotic zealotry talking? It could be. All I know is Team USA is still headlined by top superstars like Davis, Stephen Curry and Derrick Rose. Ergo, they should be fine.
But this announcement comes completely out of nowhere—from where we’re standing anyway—and sort of makes you wonder if George’s injury didn’t have an impact on some of his Team USA running mates after all.
Dan Favale is a firm believer in the three-pointer as well as the notion that defense doesn’t always win championships. His musings can be found at Bleacherreport.com in addition to TheHoopDoctors.com.