Russell Westbrook Declines Invite to Play for Team USA in 2016 Rio Olympics
The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears relayed Westbrook’s statement:
Westbrook joins a growing list of players who have opted against participating in the international competition as Team USA prepares to defend its 2012 gold medal.
In January, Team USA announced 30 finalists for this summer’s 12-man roster. But with many players staying stateside as the result of injuries suffered late in the season or concerns over the Zika virus, the list of available names is quickly dwindling.
Considering Curry, Westbrook and Wall are all out of the picture, Krzyzewski and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo will need to choose from Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard and Mike Conley based on the list of point guards who made the final cut.
However, Boston Celtics floor general Isaiah Thomas has already started to campaign for a spot following Westbrook’s announcement:
Even though the United States has been left thin in the backcourt, it should still stand strong on the perimeter and down low.
Sacramento Kings interior force DeMarcus Cousins has been told that he has a spot in Rio, per Spears, and ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported on June 6 that Thunder forward Kevin Durant “is indeed still planning” to compete.
New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony is still mulling things over, and he told The Vertical’s Michael Lee in April that if good friend LeBron James decides to go for a third straight gold, “it definitely would help” him make a decision.
“I’m going to take a little more time to think about it,” Anthony said, per Lee. “I’m not in a rush. NBA season is still going on, so I’m going to see how I feel physically. Am I ready to take on—I don’t want to say burden, but—that load? If I’m ready, I’ll do it. If not, my body won’t lie to me.”
Team USA will head to Rio as a heavy favorite to capture the No. 1 spot on the podium regardless of who’s on the roster, but a star-studded squad featuring the likes of Anthony, Durant and George would undoubtedly be more entertaining to watch.