The list of stars to withdraw from USA Basketball practices ahead of the FIBA World Cup continues to grow with Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon taking their names out of the running.
Sources told The Athletic’s Shams Charania early Saturday morning that Gordon would withdraw, while a report from Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes about McCollum came out shortly thereafter.
Portland star guard CJ McCollum has withdrawn from USA Basketball training camp and FIBA World Cup to concentrate on upcoming season, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 20, 2019
This news comes one day after Gordon’s teammate James Harden withdrew to prepare to play with their new teammate Russell Westbrook. Less than a week earlier, Anthony Davis withdrew to focus on his first campaign with the Los Angeles Lakers.
While players are dropping quickly — and it they may not be done withdrawing — there will still be plenty of talent when Team USA holds its training camp from Aug. 5-9. The actual tournament will take place in China from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15, as the U.S. seeks to become the first country to win three straight World Cups.
Not being able to count on McCollum and Gordon’s outside shooting — they are career 40.1 and 37.4 percent shooters from three, respectively — will hurt, but the rest of the roster includes a number of talented guards.
USA Basketball still has two reigning All-NBA players in Kemba Walker and Damian Lillard plus a bevy of All-Stars in Bradley Beal, Andre Drummond, Kevin Love, Kyle Lowry and Khris Middleton. That’s even before considering rising stars Kyle Kuzma, Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum.
Team USA’s roster has been trimmed from 20 to 16 because of the withdrawals, and they will further cut that down to 12 for the tournament next month.
Despite winning gold at the 2016 Olympic games, the U.S. does not get an automatic qualification to the 2020 games, but they should still be a shoo-in, even if they don’t win the 2019 FIBA World Cup. They just have to be one of the top two finishers among the teams from the Americas, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.
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