US Olympic Roster Shrinking With Several NBA Players Opting Out

Over the last week, several NBA stars have announced that they will not be participating on the U.S. Olympic Team this summer. Players like Stephen Curry, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook have declined the option to represent Team U.S.A. at the 2016 Brazil Olympics.

Some of these players are battling injuries after a long NBA season and have decided to skip out on the Olympics and a chance make the U.S. Olympic roster. For example, reports from the Los Angeles Daily News state that Stephen Curry may need surgery on both his knee and shoulder this offseason. For Curry, the decision to opt out of Team U.S.A. makes sense. He has currently played in 15 playoff games so far this season, combined with 79 regular season games. Undergoing surgery and recovering before next season is the smart move for Curry, who will possibly defending back-to-back championship trophies. Players like LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, and Anthony Davis have also decided to forgo the Team U.S.A. because of injuries.

Although other superstars have failed to give a reason as to why they will not be playing for the U.S. in Brazil, notes that the Zika Virus might be at the heart of their decision.

“The Zika virus is also a concern in Brazil, which has been hit hard by the mosquito-borne virus that has been linked to severe birth defects and possible neurological problems in adults. Spain star Pau Gasol had recently said he was considering skipping the Olympics for that reason.”

Injuries and the Zika virus are not the only reason that NBA players won’t be playing for Team U.S.A. this summer, however. As explains, a player like Andrew Wiggins has declined the opportunity to play for Canada. Instead, Wiggins will stay in Minnesota so that he can prepare for his upcoming season with the Timberwolves. It will be Tom Thibodeau’s first year in Minnesota, and Wiggins will look to develop his skills this offseason to impress his new head coach. Wiggins is only 21 years old, and the Timberwolves are expecting a big year out of their young core and a possible playoff berth as well.

According to ESPN, one player who will be joining the U.S. Olympic Team is DeMarcus Cousins. Cousins was also appeared for the U.S. in the 2014 FIBA World Cup when the team took home the gold medal. Cousins averaged 28.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per 36 minutes this season according to Basketball-Reference. Cousins also led the league in usage percentage at 35.4 percent this past year, and he will certainly take on more of the offensive load with Team U.S.A. this time around.

Kevin Durant will be participating in this year’s events, and a possible tandem with LeBron James could be all the U.S. needs to defend their title. Durant is coming off an impressive run in the 2016 NBA Playoffs, where his team took the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals. Durant’s defense took a huge leap in the 2016 NBA Playoffs and was one of the reasons the Thunder were able to push the Warriors to the brink of elimination. On the other hand, James has guided his team to the NBA Finals for the sixth consecutive year.

Ultimately, the U.S. Olympic Team will still enter Brazil with the most talent on paper. Mike Krzyzewski will be coaching in his last Olympics before handing the duty off to Gregg Popovich, and his team will certainly be capable of defending their gold medal. Even if the U.S. Olympic Team is less impressive than in past years under Krzyzewski, he still has his eyes set on going out on top.

[Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]

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