While fans may be disappointed that they won’t get a chance to see stars like Anthony Davis, James Harden, and Damian Lillard represent Team USA in the 2019 World Cup, the players at this week’s training camp don’t sound too broken up about several stars removing their names from consideration, as Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston writes.
“This is like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a lot of us. I think a lot of us are happy those guys pulled out,” Kemba Walker said. “This is our chance, this is our chance to get on the big stage and showcase our talents. It’s a chance for us to do something new, to be a new-look team.”
Of the players on Team USA’s training camp roster, Walker is one of a handful who likely would’ve been in position to claim a 12-man roster spot even if the program had a more robust turnout. But that’s not necessarily the case for younger players like Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell.
According to Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link), Fox and Mitchell were among the Team USA standouts during the first couple days of this week’s training camp. Although there has been no official word yet, Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets that Fox – who was elevated from the Select Team – looks like a virtual lock to be part of Team USA’s final 12-man roster for China.
Here are a few more notes on the World Cup:
- Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca passes along some good news and some bad news for Team Canada (via Twitter). According to Grange, Kelly Olynyk‘s knee injury appears likely to sideline the Heat big man for about a week, but shouldn’t keep him out of World Cup action next month. However, it sounds more and more like Raptors forward/center Chris Boucher won’t be playing for Canada at the World Cup, Grange adds.
- After being listed on Team Senegal’s preliminary 24-man World Cup roster, Tacko Fall didn’t show up on the team’s updated 16-man roster this week (Twitter links). According to Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter link), Fall and Team Senegal reached a mutual agreement that he wouldn’t participate in the World Cup as he focuses on trying to make the Celtics. Timberwolves power forward Gorgui Dieng has also withdrawn from Senegal’s roster.
- In a pair of separate articles for ESPN.com, Brian Windhorst tries to answer some pressing questions for Team USA and digs into why Gregg Popovich is coaching Team USA when he seemingly has nothing left to prove.