In completely shocking news, Marc Stein of ESPN reports Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant has withdrawn from the United States Men’s National Team weeks before the 2014 FIBA World Cup kicks off.
Hearing Kevin Durant is poised to announce his withdrawal from Team USA’s World Cup trip to Spain. NOT Paul George related, I’m told
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 7, 2014
In a statement addressing the FIBA withdrawal, Durant cited mental and physical fatigue as the reasoning behind his decision.
“This was an extremely difficult decision as I take great pride in representing our country. I know that I owe it to my USA Basketball teammates to be totally invested in the experience. After going through training camp with USAB, I realized I could not fulfill my responsibilities to the team from both a time and energy standpoint. I need to take a step back and take some time away, both mentally and physically in order to prepare for the upcoming NBA season. I will be rooting for USAB and look forward to future opportunities with them.”
Kevin Durant’s claim to mental and physical fatigue are likely true. Since the 2010-11 season, no player has played more minutes in the regular season than Durant. Once you factor in the minutes accumulated in the playoffs and you see where the fatigue comes in.
A superstar withdrawing from international play isn’t coming. Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, and LaMarcus Aldridge all did so recently. The issue here is the timing of Durant’s withdrawal. There’s no more fatigue now than there was two weeks ago before Team USA met up in Las Vegas to start practice for the World Cup.
Could Paul George’s injury have impacted his decision? Possibly. If Durant suffers a catastrophic injury similar to George’s, his brand–mainly his shoe negotiations (the forward is expected to sign a $300 million deal with Under Armour)–would take a huge hit as would the championship chances of the Thunder.
Without Durant, Team USA will be forced to rely on a handful of youth talent. With the likes of Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis, Stephen Curry, and others on the roster, this is still an extremely talented team.