“We’re disappointed, obviously … You’re getting into the last week. It’s that last weekend. And both of those guys figured prominently into what we were planning then. But now we have to plan something new.”
In a statement released by the Los Angeles Clippers last week, Griffin cited preservation for the upcoming season as reasoning for withdrawal.
“I appreciate the invitation to play for Team USA this summer,” said the four-time NBA All-Star. “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.”
Upon Griffin and Love’s withdrawal, Team USA’s brass reacted accordingly and expeditiously, adding Atlanta Hawks power forward an 2014 All-Star Paul Millsap to the roster.
“In the last minute he reached out and wanted to be a part of it,” said Krzyzewski. “That’s what most of the guys are like. Millsap is a veteran player who is coming off of maybe his best year. It gives us another guy to look at.”
Millsap joins a thin frontcourt of Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings), Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans),and Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets). In comparison to the last two reiterations of the US Men’s National Team (2010 World Championships & 2012 London Olympics), Team USA has more “true” big-man depth, but find themselves putting their hopes in an unreliable bunch as only Anthony Davis has experienced international play.
In 2010 (World Championships), Tyson Chandler started at center with Lamar Odom as the only ‘true’ alternative big. In 2012 (London Olympics), Chandler returned as starting center with Love and Davis alongside him as the “true” bigs. Fortunately for Team USA, LeBron James was on the roster, giving them a versatile alternative to start at power forward.
In comparison to the rest of the world, Team USA still has a advantage in the talent departure. They’ve the reigning 2014 NBA MVP in Kevin Durant, the best shooter on the planet in Stephen Curry, a Swiss-Army knife in Anthony Davis, and several other players who could make a claim for best in the world.
And despite a quick shift in expected roster, likely changing the way the coaching staff approaches the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Krzyzewski expects Team USA to be prepared for whatever is ahead. As the old adage goes, there’s no reason to cry over spoiled milk; what’s done is done.
“As soon as they say they’re not coming, it’s done. I don’t linger with that. I would rather concentrate on the guys here. The fact that [Love and Griffin] has just happened is fresh. We have to be reactionary to it. But we move on. When we play in Spain, no one will be making excuses for us.
“We have a good group, they’re committed and we’re going to start the journey again.”