2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup
James Harden decides to pass on FIBA World Cup to focus on Rockets
All-Star James Harden wants to focus on the Rockets late this summer and fall, specifically on adapting to playing with new teammates such as Russell Westbrook.
According to a report by Jonathan Feigen in The Houston Chronicle on Friday, Harden has informed Team USA coach Gregg Popovich that he is withdrawing from the team that will represent the U.S. in the FIBA World Cup in China.
Speaking at an event on Friday to donate shoes and other sporting goods to children from the Greater Houston Police Activities League, Harden said he wanted to spend the remainder of the offseason to focus on preparing for the retooled Rockets.
Rockets teammates P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon are both scheduled to participate in practices in Las Vegas Aug. 5 to 9. Harden has previously played for the 2012 USA Basketball Olympic team and 2014 World Cup team.
Harden joins Anthony Davis as the second top player to withdraw from Team USA in the past week.
Team USA still has All-Star guards Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker and Bradley Beal among those who remain committed.
The FIBA World Cup is scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 15 in China, and doesn’t leave much lead time for players to start NBA training camps.