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Kawhi Leonard Withdraws From Team USA For Paris Olympics

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Los Angeles Clippers Kawhi Leonard Withdraws From Team USA For Paris Olympics

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard will not play for Team USA in the upcoming 2024 Paris Olympics. Team USA will replace Leonard with Boston Celtics guard Derrick White, according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears. White, who recently signed a four-year extension worth $126 million, played on Team USA at the 2019 World Cup.

Los Angeles Clippers, Team USA officials urged Kawhi Leonard to withdraw from Paris Olympics

In a statement released Wednesday, USA Basketball implied that Leonard’s decision was influenced by the Clippers and Team USA officials after observing training camp in Las Vegas over the last three days.

The international multi-sport event would have been the first Olympic trip for Leonard, who missed 12 of the Clippers’ final 14 games this past season with right knee inflammation.

Of course, Clippers coach Ty Lue is on the Team USA coaching staff. Representatives from the Clippers, including team president Lawrence Frank, have attended practices at UNLV this week.

“Kawhi has been ramping up for the Olympics over the last several weeks and had a few strong practices in Las Vegas. He felt ready to compete,” USA Basketball said.

“However, he respects that USA Basketball and the Clippers determined its 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.”

Leonard has missed 256 regular-season NBA games over the last seven years, including the entire 2021-22 season

Kawhi Leonard said he’d been rehabbing the knee over the last two months and wasn’t sure whether he’d be able to play until two weeks ago, when he showed improvement.

“I took the time, and I was able to turn around over the last two weeks,” Leonard said Sunday. “So I’m out here now and, yeah, I’m having a good time.”

Leonard said Tuesday that he was planning to play in Team USA’s first exhibition game Wednesday night against Team Canada.

Nonetheless, he said his knee has been in a “neutral” state.

In January, Leonard signed a three-year, $150 million contract extension with the Clippers. Though, he hasn’t been able to finish the last two postseasons because of right knee injuries.

According to the Basketball-Reference database, Kawhi Leonard has missed 256 regular-season games over the last seven years, including the entire 2021-22 season. His 68 games this past season for the Clippers were his most since playing in 74 for the San Antonio Spurs in 2016-17.

Moreover, forward Kevin Durant is also injured on Team USA. The two-time NBA champ hasn’t been able to take part in contact practice due to a calf strain and will not play Wednesday night.