Kawhi Leonard withdraws from USA Basketball Olympic team

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard withdrew from the Team USA men’s basketball Olympic roster on Wednesday.

USA Basketball said the organization and the Clippers determined that Leonard should focus on getting ready for the upcoming 2024-25 season.

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

However, he respects that USA Basketball and the Clippers determined it is 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.”

The Athletic first reported Leonard was going to withdraw from the roster. The report added that Boston Celtics guard Derrick White was a “strong” candidate to replace Leonard on the roster.

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Leonard is coming off a season in which he played nearly 70 games for the first time since 2018-19, when he had one year with the Toronto Raptors. He joined the Clippers before the 2019-20 season and played 57 games. He played 52 games in 2020-21, missed the entire 2021-22 season with a torn ACL and played 52 games in 2022-23.

Last season, he played and started in 68 games and earned his first All-Star selection since the 2020-21 season. He averaged 23.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

However, he only played in two of the Clippers’ first-round playoff games against the Dallas Mavericks because of a right knee injury.

The Athletic reported that Leonard is still dealing with chronic knee soreness and inflammation and has been “for months.”

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