Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, an Olympic and World Championship gold medalist, has confirmed with USA Basketball Director Jerry Colangelo that he will not be able to participate on the USA Basketball Men’s National Team this summer.
Westbrook has had a history of knee problems the last two seasons which have curtailed the number of games he has been able to play for the Thunder. Most likely, this is a precautionary measure to ensure that his knee avoids any more wear and tear prior to the start of the 2014-2015 NBA season.
“I have received confirmation from Russell that he will not be participating in this summer’s USA Basketball Men’s National Team training and the World Cup due to his need to rest. We’ve been communicating with Russell since the Thunder’s season ended and we’ve known this was a possibility. As much as we would love to have him this summer and as much as he’d like to play for the United States this summer, this is the right decision," said Colangelo.
“The process we’re going through to finalize this summer’s roster is no different than other summers. As I’ve said previously, our roster is fluid and based on the circumstances of our players you will see the addition of players as they emerge and as they are needed.”
The 28-man 2014-16 USA National Team roster, which was announced on January 23, 2014, featured 11 players from the golden 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, and included a total of 12 Olympians who have captured a combined 16 gold medals and two bronze medals. It also included seven players returning from the USA Basketball team that captured the 2010 World Championship.
Despite the tremendous talent available to USA Basketball, the loss of Westbrook will be felt. Westbrook stood out as perhaps the second-best player on the 2010 team next to Kevin Durant. His slashing drives and superior athleticism gave opponents fits, as he was repeatedly able to get from the three-point line to the rim, even when facing zone defenses.
The USA National Team roster includes LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trail Blazers); Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks); DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings); Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans); Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets); Paul George (Indiana Pacers); Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers); James Harden (Houston Rockets); Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz); Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets); Andre Iguodala (Golden State Warriors); Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers); LeBron James (Miami Heat); Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks); David Lee (Golden State Warriors); Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs); Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers); Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves); Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers); Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls); Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors); Westbrook; and Deron Williams (Brooklyn Nets).
A smaller group of USA National Team members will be selected to participate in the 2014 USA National Team’s training camp that will be held July 28-August 1, in Las Vegas.
Following a 12-day break, the U.S. team will reassemble in Chicago, and train Aug. 14-15 and play an exhibition contest versus Brazil at the United Center on Aug. 16. The USA will continue its World Cup preparations Aug. 17-22 in New York City, and play a pair of exhibition games at Madison Square Garden, the first on Aug. 20 against Dominican Republic, and the second versus Puerto Rico on Aug. 22. The USA will complete its tour Aug. 24-26 on the island of Gran Canaria. Training Aug. 24-25, the U.S. will close out its exhibition tour on Aug. 26 against Slovenia at Gran Canaria Arena.
The 2014 FIBA World Cup, featuring a total of 24 national teams, is scheduled to be held August 30-September 14 in Spain. The 2014 USA Basketball Men's World Cup Team will play its preliminary round games in Bilbao, Spain, after being drawn into Group C along with teams from the Dominican Republic, New Zealand, Turkey, and Ukraine.
The USA opens the 2014 World Cup preliminary round play on August 30 against Finland, and then faces Turkey on August 31 in a rematch of the 2010 FIBA World Championship gold medal game, a contest in which the USA claimed an 81-64 victory. Following a day off on September 1, the USA resumes play September 2 facing New Zealand. The U.S. will go against the Dominican Republic on September 3, and will conclude its preliminary play on September 4 facing Ukraine.
Each team at the 2014 World Cup will play the other teams in its preliminary group, and the top four finishing teams from each of the four preliminary round groups will then qualify for the Round of 16. Winners of the Round of 16 games will advance to the quarterfinals, while losers are eliminated.
Winners of the quarterfinals games will advance to the medal round semifinals, while the quarterfinals losers are eliminated from the competition. Winners of the semifinals will advance to the Sept. 14 gold medal game, while semifinals losers will meet in the bronze medal game on Sept. 13. The games from the Round of 16 to the semifinals will be played in Barcelona and Madrid, and the bronze and gold medal games will be held in Madrid.
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services