A Focus On Winning Next Season Is Taking Some Stars Away From USA Basketball

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Every few years, basketball fans are given a treat during the offseason, as NBA players take the floor for international basketball. It usually follows a pretty similar script: The United States are the overwhelming favorites to win whatever tournament they are in, they mow through most of the competition, and maybe survive a scare or two en route to a win.

That may not necessarily be the case at this summer’s FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, if only because, well, a whole lot of dudes won’t be there. While we already knew that, for example, LeBron James and Kevin Durant wouldn’t suit up for the team this summer, names that were expected to be part of the team’s upcoming training camp and, potentially, the World Cup have began dropping out.

Most prominently, both James Harden and Anthony Davis have elected to pass on participating, citing major changes their teams have undergone this offseason — Davis, of course, was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, while Harden’s Rockets traded Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook.

Harden isn’t the only Rocket to make that decision, as Eric Gordon will reportedly also pass on suiting up for Gregg Popovich.

To top things off, C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers pulled out of the camp and World Cup, something that he confirmed on his Twitter account on Saturday.

The United States should still have a mess of talent — it is very hard to feel bad for a basketball team that could, potentially, have All-Stars like Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Khris Middleton, Kevin Love, and LaMarcus Aldridge on the roster, along with whomever else might join. That doesn’t even consider that someone could make the jump from the select team that will challenge them during camp, one which is expected to feature guys like Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley.