Six-time NBA All-Star withdraws from Team USA roster

    Star Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard will withdraw from Team USA’s roster ahead of the Olympics in Paris, as reported by Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic and later confirmed by Team USA.

    USA Basketball intends to name a replacement for Leonard on the 12-team roster that will travel to Paris, with Celtics guard Derrick White considered a strong candidate, according to Charania and Vardon.

    Leonard was sidelined at the end of the 2023-24 season due to right knee inflammation. He missed the last eight games of the regular season and first game of the playoffs due to the ailment, returned for Game 2 and Game 3 vs. Dallas, then sat out the final three contests of the Clippers’ first-round loss.

    After reporting to Team USA’s training camp, Leonard said over the weekend that his knee had improved in recent weeks enough for him to play this summer. Neither The Athletic’s report nor USA Basketball’s official statement on Leonard’s exit from the team specifically mentions that knee, but it sounds as if the forward’s health is the motivating factor for the decision.

    “Kawhi has been ramping up for the Olympics over the past several weeks and had a few strong practices in Las Vegas,” Team USA’s statement reads. “He felt ready to compete. However, he respects that USA Basketball and the Clippers determined it’s in his best interest to spend the remainder of the summer preparing for the upcoming season rather than participating in the Olympic Games in Paris.”

    While that statement suggests the decision was made by the Clippers and Team USA, Marc J. Spears of Andscape hears from a source that Leonard’s camp reached out a couple days ago to USA Basketball to express concern.

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