The general public wasn’t the only group shocked at Blake Griffin‘s immediate withdrawal from the 2014 FIBA World Cup Men’s National Team.
In an interview with USA TODAY Sports, Jerry Colangelo, Team USA managing director, revealed they knew nothing of Griffin’s decision prior to it happening.
“We didn’t have any indication that there was even a possibility of a change in plans (from Griffin),” said Colangelo. “,” Colangelo told USA TODAY Sports. “It’s unfortunate (because) it’s been two competitions in a row (that Griffin has missed), but it sounds like a broken record because it happened recently with someone else.”
While Griffin’s first withdrawal was due to injury reasons, the second has much more to do with the four-time NBA All-Star savoring himself for the Clippers’ upcoming season.
“I appreciate the invitation to play for Team USA this summer,” Griffin said in a statement released by the Clippers “It is a special opportunity anytime you have a chance to represent your country, and I was honored to be included. However, right now I want to focus and dedicate 100 percent of my energy on improving and preparing for the upcoming season with the Clippers.”
The loss of Griffin leaves a hole in Team USA’s frontcourt, especially with Portland Trail Blazers star LaMarcus Aldridge withdrawing recently also. At the small forward position they’re fine as long as Kevin Durant and Paul George continue with FIBA play, but once you take a look at the frontline they’re a little thin.
With Griffin and Aldridge gone, Team USA will rely on Kevin Love, Anthony Davis, Kenneth Faried, DeMarcus Cousins, and Andre Drummond. Of this bunch, Colangelo finds himself with a versatile group–each provides something a bit different than the other. Love stretches the floor, Faried, the energy, Cousins, the low-post scoring, Drummond, the rebounding, and Davis, a combination of all the mentioned traits. And against 99 percent of the world, this group would be sufficient enough to get the job done, but with Spain–and the Gasol brothers and possibly Serge Ibaka–likely to cross their path, they’ll need a bit more bulk to slow that duo down.
The 2014 FIBA World Cup begins on August 30th for Team USA.