Just hours after adding Washington Wizards point guard John Wall to its pool of candidates for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Team USA lost an All-Star, too. Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin announced earlier today that he will not participate for the national team this summer.
ESPN’s Arash Markazi has more on Griffin’s sudden decision to eschew international play.
Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin will not participate on the USA Basketball men’s national team this summer, he announced Thursday…
“I appreciate the invitation to play for Team USA this summer,” Griffin said in a statement. “It is a special opportunity anytime you have a chance to represent your country, and I was honored to be included. However, right now I want to focus and dedicate 100 percent of my energy on improving and preparing for the upcoming season with the Clippers.”
Griffin’s choice to sit out USA Basketball proceedings comes after the Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge and San Antonio Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard offered similar reasoning for the same decision. The Clippers superstar was awarded a spot on the 2012 Olympic Team before suffering a meniscus injury that required arthroscopic surgery and forced him to miss the Games. Despite three consecutive All-NBA Second Team honors and emerging as one of basketball’s several best players last season, the 25 year-old Griffin has yet to play for his country as a professional. It’s unknown how this announcement will affect his standing as a prospective member of the 2016 Olympic Team.
Considered a shoo-in to make the World Cup roster, Griffin’s absence leaves a sizable void in the Team USA frontcourt. Few big men in the world boast a combination of athleticism and skill that matches Griffin’s, and his relentless motor will surely be missed, too. Kenneth Faried seems a far more realistic choice for USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski now, and even more of an onus will surely fall on Kevin Durant – the reigning MVP won’t only be asked to shoulder the scoring load, but rebounding and interior defense ones as well without Griffin in the fold. The chances of DeMarcus Cousins and Andre Drummond being named to Team USA increase as a result of Griffin’s choice, too.
On the other hand, an even bigger spotlight will now shine on burgeoning superstar Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. And if the 21 year-old’s play towards the end of last season is any indication, we won’t be missing Griffin much come September.
Whose chance to make Team USA improves most with Griffin out of the running?
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