USA Basketball says it wants the best for Draymond Green, which is why the federation does not have him in its plans for the Paris Olympics.
Green's omission from the pool of 41 players who are now candidates to play for the United States at the Paris Games was explained Wednesday by men's national team managing director Grant Hill, who spoke highly of the Golden State forward's history with the national team and how he helped the Americans win Olympic gold in 2016 and 2021.
But it was Green's recent history — two suspensions for on-court conduct this season — that Hill and USA Basketball couldn't ignore.
“We all understand and certainly have great respect and sensitivity to this particular period in his career and he's working through some things both on and off the court,” Hill said. “We at USA Basketball, we want to support him on his journey. We just didn't feel that playing over the summer gives him the best opportunity to do what he needs to do.”
Green appeared in 16 of Golden State's first 40 games this season, his absences primarily because of the two suspensions — five games for grabbing Minnesota's Rudy Gobert around the neck during an on-court incident in November, then an indefinite banning after he struck Phoenix's Jusuf Nurkic in the face in December. Green wound up missing 12 games before being reinstated and four more games while ramping up to return to play.
Green is one of four current NBA players with more than one Olympic gold medal. The others — three-time gold medalist Kevin Durant and two-time gold medalists LeBron James and Chris Paul — are among the 41-player list that was released Tuesday. But Green was hardly the only previous gold medalist that didn't make the initial list for this summer; of the 26 active NBA players with gold medals, 13 are in the pool, 13 aren't.
“His contributions have been significant, and he is a real part of the legacy of this organization for his excellence,” Hill said. “But in lieu of what's transpired this year, we made a decision to not have him on this list.”
It was the first of many tough decisions awaiting Hill, men's national team director Sean Ford, national team coach Steve Kerr and others in the coming months as a list of 41 players has to get pared down to a 12-person Olympic team. There are a slew of players in line to potentially make their first Olympic team, including reigning MVP Joel Embiid and four-time NBA champion Stephen Curry.
There won't be tryouts and Hill's hope is to have the roster picked at some point during the NBA playoffs, which makes sometime in May a logical target for a team unveiling. All 41 players on the current list have expressed interest in playing; 24 have been All-Stars, with a combined 131 selections.
That means, at minimum, 12 past All-Stars won't graduate from the pool to the actual Olympic team this summer. The team will convene in Las Vegas for camp in early July and play its first exhibition game to start tuning up for Paris on July 10 when Canada visits.
“I'll be honest: I didn't think we'd be at 41. I thought we would have fewer names, I thought maybe 30,” Hill said. “And so, it was really hard to get to 41. And I imagine it'll be very difficult to get to 12. If history is a guide here, a lot can and will happen between now and July.”
AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games