Friday night, after Team USA’s confidence-boosting exhibition win against Spain, coach Gregg Popovich said the 14 players on the roster would all go to Australia for the next round of pre-World Cup tune-up games.
Only 13 players boarded the team play Saturday.
Sacramento’s De'Aaron Fox chose to withdraw from the team, something first reported by Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports and confirmed by USA Basketball. The reason given was to focus on helping Sacramento make the playoffs this season (the Kings have the longest playoff drought in the NBA at 13 seasons).
The decision came as a surprise.
Fox had been a standout at USA Basketball camp and impressed both the staff and fellow players. Kemba Walker called Fox the fastest player in the NBA with the ball in his hands and said his improved jump shot was going to take him to another level. Fox was considered a lock to make the roster, although he played just a little over six minutes in Friday night’s exhibition.
Fox’s decision makes it almost a lock that San Antonio’s Derrick White will make the World Cup roster.
USA Basketball is taking 13 players to Australia but will eventually have to cut one player before they tip-off Sept. 1 in China in their first World Cup game, taking on the Czech Republic. That’s a long, lonely flight home for one person.