TEAM USA: NOTES ON PAUL & GRIFFIN
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
PAUL STOPS BY TEAM USA PRACTICE, COLANGELO TALKS GRIFFIN
After hosting his second annual ping pong tournament in Las Vegas over the weekend, Chris Paul stuck around to attend Team USA’s practice.
Paul, who roamed the sidelines Tuesday during Team USA’s second practice since minicamp opened July 28, is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2008 and 2012). Despite electing to sit out the 2014 World Cup, Paul, who turned 29 in May, would remain a lock for the 2016 Summer Games if he elects to play.
On Tuesday, Paul was merely there to support the group as they prepare for their first tune-up game against Brazil on Aug. 16 in Chicago. He walked around with Managing Director Jerry Colangelo and Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and sat courtside with his son, Little Chris, and Kings forward Rudy Gay.
COLANGELO SUPPORTS GRIFFIN’S DECISION TO WITHDRAW
Clippers forward Blake Griffin withdrew from Team USA on Sunday, something Colangelo called one of a “couple of hits” in an interview with NBA TV.
Griffin, who was forced to miss the 2012 Summer Olympics due to a knee injury, was expected to be among the featured players on the 2014 World Cup roster alongside MVPs Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose. But that changed when he pulled his name from the 19-man roster.
“It came out [Monday] that [Griffin] had a stress fracture in his back,” Colangelo said. “Well, he took a little heat for backing out, but now that it’s been exposed that he had a real issue, what else could he do?”
With Griffin, Kevin Love, Dwight Howard and LeBron James not participating in the World Cup, which begins Aug. 30 in Bilbao, Spain, Team USA will likely turn to a youthful contingent of frontcourt players, including DeMarcus Cousins, Kenneth Faried and/or Andre Drummond.
However, Griffin’s absence will be noticeable. The 25-year-old MVP candidate is coming off his best season as a professional and is considered a cornerstone for USA Basketball for years to come. But much like 2012, his participation in international competition will be delayed.