Kevin Love is not walking through that door.
And that’s okay, Team USA is still likely to make it to the World Cup gold medal game in Spain in September without him.
No doubt Team USA’s roster could use some star power and scoring punch after Kevin Durant shocked everyone by pulling out on Thursday. Four years ago KD averaged 33 points a game over the USA’s final three games on their way to winning gold at the FIBA World Championships (now called World Cup) and he was actually going to be more important offensively to a guard-heavy Team USA roster this time around.
So what about adding a star player, ideally one who can play the four? USA Basketball president Jerry Colangelo got some phone calls on Thursday in the wake of KD’s announcement and is considering his options but likely will play the hand he has, he told Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.
“I’ve had a couple of calls,” Colangelo told Yahoo Sports. “I know a couple agents are offering a good couple of their clients who could fit the bill. I’m going to be on the phones tonight. I was just talking with coach. I’m going to see what our deal is going to be.
“Probably it won’t be anything other than we go forward. But don’t rule out the possibility. …I really need to touch with Coach K so we can have a little discussion. We talked earlier, but because of these calls I wanted to discuss some things with him. As of now, I say no add-ons with a possibility.”
Colangelo went on to say specifically there were no plans to add Kevin Love as a potential replacement.
The problem for Love is that while it looks like he will be traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Aug. 23 — one week before the World Cup tips off — the motivation for him to sit this one out remains. Sure, part of that motivations was that he didn’t want risk an injury that would blow up the trade (he’s missed parts of the last two seasons with hand injuries), but the other part is he didn’t want to risk injury before signing a max contract extension next summer (2015). With that deal locked in look for Love to be back for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Even without Durant and Love the USA really still should get all the way to the gold medal game. In their group the next best team is likely Turkey (seventh ranked in the world, but Omer Asik is likely their best player), then when we get to the single-elimination tournament part of the event the toughest team on the USA’s side of the bracket is Lithuania (fourth ranked, led by Dontas Motiejunas and Jonas Valanciunas).
Spain likely awaits in that gold medal game, with a crazy deep roster (Marc Gasol, Pau Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Jose Calderon, Ricky Rubio and a lot of top flight international players) playing on its home court. But that is one game and the USA’s athleticism and pressure from their guards can win them that one game. That would be a lot easier with Durant or some additional scoring punch on the roster, but the USA’s chances are not ruined without him.
Still, the USA should be considering its options.