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Report: Durant Withdraws From Consideration For World Cup Team

Already without presumptive stalwarts Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and Paul George, USA Basketball will now have to make do at the FIBA World Cup absent an even bigger star. Yahoo Sports’ Marc Spears reports that reigning MVP Kevin Durant, citing a need for rest in advance of the 2014-2015 season, has withdrawn from consideration for Team USA.

Of crucial note given the hot-button topic of NBA stars playing in international competitions is that Durant’s decision is unrelated to George’s injury, Spears says.

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Durant says his withdrawal is due to mental and physical exhaustion as well as the inability to make the proper commitments playing for the World Cup team necessitates.

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Kudos to Durant for doing what he deems is best for himself. The weight of the basketball world knows no bounds, and a lesser man might have folded under the pressure and played through all-encompassing fatigue as a result. But Durant is strong – this decision is only further confirmation of that fact.

This development, though, is a huge blow to a team that’s been in accelerating states of flux since losing Love and Griffin two weeks ago. But the deep pool of talent in the USA Basketball ranks helped make them relatively expendable, and the same could be said for George.

Griffin’s all-court impact, Love’s range and rebounding, and George’s defensive value could be made up for given offensive punch no competing FIBA squad could come close to matching. The problem is that Durant accounted for a large portion of it. Team USA will have to rely even more on a wildly talented backcourt led by Derrick Rose and Steph Curry without him, and that duo – in addition to James Harden – will surely step up in Durant’s stead.

Make no mistake, though – there’s simply no replacing KD.

Don’t be surprised if Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward, and DeMar DeRozan all make the trip to Spain now. Durant and George were Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s top options at nominal power forward alongside a traditional big man in Team USA’s preferred small-ball lineups, and he’ll surely want a wealth of options at his disposal without them. Parsons, Hayward, and DeRozan can make positive contributions to the national team, of course, but their potential impact pales in comparison to that of George, let alone Durant.

The Americans are still favorites to win the inaugural FIBA World Cup. Not even a rash of departures by its top players from an already depleted pool of candidates will change that.

But Durant’s absence makes things very, very interesting.

Will Team USA win the World Cup without Durant?

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