The biggest story of late July and early August in the NBA has been the incredible number of stars that have removed themselves from consideration for USA Basketball’s training camp ahead of the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
Seemingly every superstar in the league has done so, leaving Team USA with just three All-Stars on the roster — Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, and Khris Middleton — to go along with an odd mix of young players and hard-nosed veterans that you aren’t accustomed to seeing taking the floor at this level. What was interesting to watch was how the players pulling out of training camp started slowly and began to snowball to the point where a number of stars and even guys like Montrezl Harrell said no.
The reasoning given by most was wanting to focus totally on the upcoming season, one in which the league feels open for the taking more so than in any recent year. C.J. McCollum was among the early pull-outs and recently explained to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on the Woj Pod why he said no. He also went into his theory that once more guys turned Team USA down, others didn’t want to be the lone man standing.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 6, 2019
“I think other guys looked at it like, ‘Why would I go and potentially be the face of a losing roster?'” McCollum said. “Or the workload part. If we all play, the workload is less — 20-25 minutes, you get blowouts, you’re moving on. A lot of guys don’t play, minutes might go up, usage might go up, and that effects your summer as you go into March when that crash comes. January is where that crash comes before the All-Star break and then after the All-Star break, guys start to break down in March and April. Those extra miles and summertime hours, I lead the league in miles or close to it every year, I don’t want to run around in Australia or China and then come back and have to get ready for the season when I can be strategically planning my workload.”
While no player would ever admit to the first part, it’s an interesting point to bring up. Winning the FIBA World Cup is the expectation and if you do it, there will be little fanfare. Losing it, though, on Team USA if you are the main guys suddenly becomes a big story because anything less than gold is a failure. The risk is so much greater than the reward, that it makes sense that guys would be wary of that, while citing the concerns about added fatigue and miles to their body heading into a critical NBA season.