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Kawhi Leonard Withdraws from Team USA for Upcoming Olympics in Paris

Kawhi Leonard Withdraws from Team USA for Upcoming Olympics in Paris

USA Basketball announced on Wednesday that Kawhi Leonard has withdrawn from the U.S. basketball team for the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

“Kawhi has been preparing for the Olympics over the past few weeks and has had some solid workouts in Las Vegas,” USA Basketball said in a statement. “He felt ready to compete. However, he respects the fact that USA Basketball and the Clippers felt it was in his best interest to spend the rest of the summer preparing for the upcoming season rather than participating in the Olympics in Paris.”

Leonard played in 68 games during the 2023-24 NBA regular season while battling chronic knee pain and inflammation. He participated in all of Team USA’s practices and friendlies as they prepared for the Paris Games, but Leonard and team personnel believed his knee would limit him from being at 100% for the Olympic tournament.

Leonard missed the entire 2021-22 NBA season due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the 2021 postseason, and only appeared in two games in the 2023 playoffs due to a torn meniscus.

Earlier this month, he said the Clippers were “not worried” about him playing for Team USA. “They were positive about the situation,” Leonard said. “So, yeah, they weren’t too worried about it.”

Kawhi Leonard plays during a game on March 29, 2024, in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images)

According to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, Boston Celtics’ Derrick White is expected to replace Leonard in the lineup. White was on the 2019 FIBA ​​World Cup squad that finished seventh.

Team USA begins its pre-Olympic exhibition schedule Wednesday night in Las Vegas against Canada. They will then travel to the United Arab Emirates for a pair of games against Australia and Serbia next week before concluding their tour in London against South Sudan and Germany.

The U.S. team’s opponents in the group stage of the Olympic Games, which begins July 28 in Lille, France, will be Serbia, South Sudan and Puerto Rico.