After John Wall and Bradley Beal were cut from the USA Basketball men's national team this past Monday, Oklahoma City Thunder forward and D.C. area native Kevin Durant withdrew himself from consideration on Thursday.
Via a press release from the Thunder:
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.
So, did other factors play into account, like Paul George's injury? Not according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports:
Kevin Durant pulls out of USA camp for physical and emotions reasons and not due to Paul George, @usabasketball announced.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) August 7, 2014
"Kevin reached out to Coach K & myself this afternoon & expressed that he is just physically & mentally drained from the season,"- Colangelo— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) August 7, 2014
"(Durant) felt coming out of camp that he was not prepared to fulfill the commitment he made to the team," said USA's Jerry Colangelo.— Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo) August 7, 2014
Yes, I'm sure that the man has been fatigued mentally and physically from a long NBA season.
But he has also been rumored to be in negotiations with Baltimore-based Under Armour for a future shoe deal which could be worth around $325 million over 10 years. Those negotiations were happening literally during his training for the World Cup and this is a major business decision for Durant.
Then, Durant has been subject to a TON of scrutiny as to whether he would consider playing for the Wizards in 2016 when he's a free agent. This scrutiny began to take off after LeBron James decided to sign his latest contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Some of our stories on the issue can be found here and here.
So let's take a step back and look at the World Cup team now. Will Team USA still be "heavily favored" team to win it all?
Before this news, I believed that Team USA would be a runaway favorite. Now, I still believe that Team USA is the favorite, but I also wouldn't be shocked to see them in second or third place either.