This is likely the first of multiple high-profile NBA players who will decide to rest at home rather than travel to Rio with Team USA for the Olympics in early August.
Clipper point guard Chris Paul — who has a couple of gold medals on his wall from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics — has pulled his name from consideration for 2016, he told Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated.
After more than a decade of contribution to USA Basketball, Paul told SI.com on Monday that he is withdrawing from consideration for this summer’s Olympic team, likely ending his international career. “I feel my body telling me that I could use the time,” he said. Few NBA players have expended more this season than Paul. Although his traditional stats do not vary much from his career norms — 19.9 points and 9.8 assists in 33.2 minutes — he has piggybacked the Clippers in Blake Griffin’s absence….
“Just a few days ago, Little Chris asked me, ‘Daddy, will you play in the Olympics again?’” Paul said. “Part of me wanted to say yes, because he’s never been part of it. But I told him, ‘I want to spend more time with you.’” Paul, a fixture at his son’s Little League complex and basketball gym even during the NBA season, opted to stay home.
Paul is reaching the age where his body is going to take a longer to recuperate in the summer. He desperately wants to play beyond the second round of the playoffs, and putting extra strain on his body is not helping that cause. CP3 has put in plenty of time with USA Basketball, if he wants a summer off he has earned it.
Paul is the best tactician and high IQ point guard in the game (he was huge for Team USA in the second half of the 2008 Gold Medal game vs. Spain), but Team USA will be all right without him. They still have Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving, Mike Conley and others to choose from, not to mention the two guards who can handle the rock (James Harden, Klay Thompson, etc.).
The interesting question: What does this mean for Paul’s good friend LeBron James? LeBron had said he wanted to play with his friends Paul and Carmelo Anthony one more time in the Olympics, does this (and no Kobe) alter his thinking? LeBron hasn’t committed either way. Just remember, after this season, if the Cavaliers as expected make it to the NBA Finals, that will be six straight NBA Finals for LeBron. His body needs rest, too.