Clippers star Kawhi Leonard withdraws from USA Basketball

Kawhi Leonard will no longer play for USA Basketball (USA Basketball official Facebook page)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

USA Basketball’s training camp already faced early setbacks in their quest for another gold medal in the upcoming Paris Olympics games.

Despite already training with the USA men’s national basketball team a month after confirming his commitment to USA Basketball, Los Angeles Clippers’ superstar Kawhi Leonard shocked the whole hoops community again after deciding to withdraw from the Olympics.

The development was first announced by Shams Charania of The Athletic and was later confirmed by USA Basketball in an official social media post.

According to USA Basketball, it was a mutual decision between them and the Clippers organization that it is best for him to prepare for the upcoming NBA season rather than flying to Paris.

Marc J. Spears of Andscape’s then shared that three days ago, Leonard’s camp reached out to USA Basketball which may have influenced the result of the negotiations.

“I want to thank Kawhi for his commitment to the U.S. men’s national team. He earned the opportunity to represent the United States, but USA Basketball and Clippers leadership felt it’s important to allow Kawhi to prepare for the NBA season,” said USA Basketball managing director Grant Hill.

During the recently concluded 2023-2024 NBA Season, Leonard and the Clippers were bound for a great playoff run after the franchise signed James Harden in the first half of the regular season.

Leonard, who was criticized at the start of the season for his health issues, gave the Clippers fans optimism after suiting up for 68 regular season games, the first time he surpassed the 60-game mark in five years.

However, the Clippers’ hopes of advancing to the NBA Finals were shattered after Leonard only played two games in the playoffs during their first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks.

Leonard only suited up in Games 2 & 3 and was sidelined for the rest of the playoff series, resulting in a disappointing first-round series loss in just six games.

It was reported that Leonard suffered a right knee inflammation that prevented him from playing in the playoffs. Weeks after their post-season loss, the superstar small forward joined USA Basketball together with his co-NBA stalwarts.

As a replacement for the two-way NBA wingman, USA Basketball said that Boston Celtics’ defensive guard Derrick White will fill his spot in the Olympics roster.

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