Just three weeks to go until Team USA travels to Spain for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Kevin Durant has withdrawn from roster consideration. According to Marc Stein of ESPN, Durant will cite mental and physical exhaustion as his reasons for bowing out. Although I cannot officially speak for Durant, this is most likely code for: “I’m not going to risk any bodily harm to myself before the ink on my $320M+ deal with Under Armour is dry.” Given what happened to Paul George, this is perfectly understandable.
Durant, I’m told, will cite mental and physical exhaustion when the decision to leave Team USA for this summer is made official
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) August 7, 2014
With Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward as the only available small forwards that remain, Team USA Coach, Mike Krzyzewski, may be forced to do some shuffling in order to take the most talented players to the tournament. For instance, he could slide the 6’7” DeMar DeRozan from the 2 to the 3 and, subsequently, slide Stephen Curry from the 1 to the 2 (already a strong possibility). This would help create depth at the wing position that is suddenly needed in the absence of Durant and George.
It would also have adverse effects on the stacked point guard position. What started as five players fighting over three spots would become virtually guaranteed slots for each competitor. Since John Wall has been cut in real life, and Curry has been relocated in this hypothetical, we would likely see Derrick Rose slated as a starter with Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard backing him up. There is truly no downside to this backcourt. It would look something like:
Of course, I am not Coach K, and my clipboard is merely speculative. Durant’s departure will undoubtedly send ripples through USA Basketball camp, but we will have to wait in order to see how far they reach. If they are enough to help Lillard earn a spot on the team, he could make his first international splash in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.