The Cleveland Cavaliers may end up with Minnesota Timberwolves' star Kevin Love at some point this year. USA Basketball is not as fortunate.
Love will not for play the USA Men's National Team in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain next month. Uncertainty over the power forward's status for the upcoming NBA season is the reason why. The news became official Saturday morning in a statement released by USA Basketball.
USA Basketball National Team Managing Director Jerry Colangelo today announced that Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves) has informed USA Basketball that because of his current status he will be unavailable to participate with the USA National Team this summer. ...
“The fact is we can only look to the players we have available. Our job is to get the job done with our very, very deep roster, and we’re anxious to get things started,” said Colangelo.
Love is a double-double machine in the NBA and his outside shooting prowess makes him an ideal threat in the international game with its shorter 3-point line.
At this point, 18 players are expected to arrive in Las Vegas on Monday for the start of practices, including the Wizards backcourt tandem of John Wall and Bradley Beal. Team USA will send 12 players to participate in World Cup of Basketball, which begins August 30. They just won't be sending over their expected frontcourt.
Love's announcement came less than 48 hours after Clippers power forward Blake Griffin also announced he would not participate in international competition this summer. LaMarcus Aldridge (Trail Blazers), another stretch-4 option, and Kawhi Leonard (Spurs) previously informed USA Basketball this offseason that they would not play. Team USA stalwarts LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard were never expected to participate in this off-Olympic year event.
Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and James Harden are the only members of the 2012 gold medal squad remaining on the 2014 roster.
Love's decision likely has no impact on the chances for Wall and Beal to make the team unless they grow four or more inches by Monday.
The only four true interior options remaining are DeMarcus Cousins (Kings), Davis (Pelicans), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Kenneth Faried (Nuggets). Davis is a lock. Same for either Drummond or Cousins, though now both of the beefy centers could stick. Faried seemed like a true long shot not so long ago, but he and Davis are the only true power forwards on the roster.
Similar to Anthony in previous international events, small forwards Durant (Thunder) and Paul George (Pacers) can play the 4-position in some cases. Love's departure may open up a spot for 6-foot-9 Chandler Parsons (Mavericks), another 3-man who has the height to play the stretch-4 role.
USA Basketball only officially added Wall to the roster this week due in part to other guards opting out of their commitment this summer. Could other bigs receive an invitation before Monday?
"There is no one to add at this stage. We will adjust accordingly," Colangelo told Yahoo following Love's announcement. "It opens up other opportunities for other guys."
Those other guys could include members of the Select Team, who will practice against the national team next week. Bulls rookie forward Doug McDermott is a tremendous frontcourt shooter. Mason Plumlee (Nets) and Miles Plumlee (Suns) both played in college for Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski. Draymond Green (Warriors) and Tobias Harris (Magic) also offer perimeter help up front.
Should Colangelo look outside the current USA Basketball structure, other viable frontcourt options include Al Jefferson (Hornets), Greg Monroe (Pistons) and Paul Millsap (Hawks).
Before anyone freaks out, the strength of this team remains the speed and shooting options in the backcourt along with Durant, George and Davis. That said, the margin for error isn't what it was just a few weeks or days ago.