Saturday, July 13, 2024

Team USA’s Kawhi Leonard withdraws from Olympics

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Team USA forward Kawhi Leonard will not compete in the Paris Olympics, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.

Boston Celtics guard Derrick White will play for Team USA in place of the Los Angeles Clippers star, who withdrew in order to spend the summer preparing for the 2024-25 NBA season.

“Kawhi has been ramping up for the Olympics over the past several weeks and had a few strong practices in Las Vegas,” USA Basketball said. “He felt ready to compete. However, he respects that USA Basketball and the Clippers determined it’s in his best interest to spend the remainder of the summer preparing for the upcoming season rather than participating in the Olympic Games in Paris.”

It would have been the Summer Games debut for Leonard, who missed 12 of the Clippers’ final 14 games last season due to inflammation in his right knee.

The Americans’ opening game is on July 28 against Serbia.

A two-time NBA champion, six-time All-Star and seven-time All-Defensive team selection, Leonard’s 68 starts in the 2023-24 season were his most since 2016-17. He missed all of 2021-22 with an ACL injury.

Leonard, 33, has career averages of 20.0 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.7 steals in 696 games (667 starts) with the San Antonio Spurs (2011-18), Toronto Raptors (2018-19) and Clippers.

White, 30, played on Team USA at the 2019 World Cup. He signed a four-year contract worth approximately $118 million last month.

White made the All-Defensive second team for the second straight season in 2023-24 and averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals in 73 starts.

He shot 40.4 percent from 3-point distance in the playoffs and averaged 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists in 19 postseason starts as the Celtics captured their record 18th title.

White was drafted by San Antonio in the first round (29th overall) in 2017 and traded to Boston in February 2022.

He has career averages of 12.3 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds in 418 games (302 starts) with the Spurs and Celtics.

–Field Level Media

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