Multiple reporters have confirmed the news — originally reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski — that Pistons guard Cade Cunningham was offered a spot on Team USA’s World Cup roster. Cunningham said last week that he declined the invitation to manage his workload for the upcoming 2023/24 season after being to 12 games in ’22/23 following shin surgery.
According to Marc Stein at Substack, USA Basketball had a longstanding interest in Cunningham joining the senior men’s team, but the organization also recognized that it was an “extreme long shot” to land him.
As Stein explains, Cunningham would have needed to commit to the full six-week time frame, which includes several exhibition games and lengthy international travel. Given how long he was sidelined, it makes sense that the 2021 No. 1 overall pick decided to be cautious; Detroit wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the idea either, according to Stein.
Here’s more from Stein:
- Why was USA Basketball so interested in Cunningham? As Stein observes, he fits the mold of a physical guard that was a priority for the roster, which includes Jalen Brunson, Anthony Edwards, Austin Reaves and Josh Hart (though Hart is more of a wing than a traditional ball-handling guard).
- The lack of physicality may explain why Hawks guard Trae Young isn’t on the World Cup roster, despite USAB managing director Grant Hill being a part owner of Atlanta, Stein writes. Young was disappointed to not make the team and recently said he’d welcome the opportunity to represent Team USA at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, Stein adds.
- Former ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy will serve as Team USA’s scouting director for the World Cup, Stein reports. Van Gundy has been associated with USAB for several years, including serving as head coach from 2017-19 when the team was comprised of non-NBA players during qualifying rounds, Stein notes.
- The Lakers remain interested in free agent big man Christian Wood, sources tell Stein. However, they used most of their non-taxpayer mid-level exception on Gabe Vincent and their bi-annual exception on Taurean Prince, so they can basically only offer Wood the veteran’s minimum. While the Mavericks are open to a Wood sign-and-trade, neither the Lakers nor the Heat are believed to be viable partners in that scenario, according to Stein.
- The Celtics are interested in re-signing free agent big man Blake Griffin, league sources tell Stein, but it’s unclear if that interest is mutual. Griffin appeared in 41 regular season games with Boston in ’22/23, averaging career lows of 4.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 13.9 MPG. He also only played one game for six total minutes in the playoffs, despite the Celtics having 20 postseason contests.