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Kawhi Leonard withdraws from Team USA


Sports Illustrated

NBA CHAMPION Derrick White replaces Los Angeles Clippers All-Star Kawhi Leonard for the USA men’s basketball roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics

The decision was made Tuesday, White accepted the invitation Tuesday night and USA Basketball announced the move Wednesday morning.

Kawhi will now instead focus on the upcoming NBA Season. In a joint session by Team USA and the Clippers, it was determined that this decision was best for Leonard’s Interest. 

The 6-time NBA All-Star and two-time NBA champion has been battling with injuries throughout his career. He missed the entire 2021-2022 NBA season due to a torn ACL. He only played 2 games during the 2023 NBA season because of a torn meniscus. Despite experiencing right knee inflammation this past season, he was able to receive All-NBA second-team honors.

“This is just my journey,” Leonard said earlier this week, discussing his injuries. “I can’t lay out the perfect script for me. Last year I tried to play as much as possible, felt great, and at a certain period of time I couldn’t go. I tried the best that I could, but it’s just my journey. I don’t want to be in a situation that (I’m) in, but I’ve got to take it for what it is. And a lot of people are watching, supporters or doubters. But I motivate a lot of people, so I’ve got to keep doing what I’m doing.”

In an interview, Team USA managing director Grant Hill said that it was the best decision for Kawhi and the team.

“He wanted to be here like all these guys want to be here,” Hill said. “And we don’t take that lightly at all. It speaks to the program and the opportunity. Personally speaking, I know what it’s like to want to do something and your body is just not right. And I’ve lived that personally. And so, I applaud him for coming here and being willing to sacrifice, give up his summer and represent our country and play for our program. It just ultimately didn’t work out.”

Derrick White, coming off an NBA championship, will now replace Kawhi on the roster. As part of the All-NBA defensive team this past season, He becomes a huge part in the defensive role for Team USA.

White has experience with Team USA when he played for them during the 2019 FIBA World Cup and now competes in his first Olympic games.

The Team USA roster is now finalized. The 12-player roster consists of Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Jrue Holiday, Anthony Davis, Anthony Edwards, Bam Adebayo, Tyrese Haliburton, and Derrick White.


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