Nicolas Batum, Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, Ian Mahinmi out for France in Olympic qualifier

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France is the highest-ranked men’s basketball team that hasn’t already clinched a berth in the 2016 Olympics.

Now, its chances of winning its Olympic Qualifying Tournament have taken a major hit.

Nicolas Batum, Evan Fournier and Ian Mahinmi won’t play, according their agent Bouna Ndiaye on France TV Sport (via E. Carchia of Sportando). Rudy Gobert is also out.

O. Cauchi of Sportando:

Jazz big-man Rudy Gobert said in an interview that he won’t play with France at the Pre-Olympic tournament in Manila. Gobert had several injuries this season and the Jazz want to keep him in Salt Lake in June to work on his body.

Batum, Fournier and Mahinmi are free agents – and will get major offers as the salary cap skyrockets. France’s qualifying tournament begins July 5, and free agents can’t sign until July 7. So, sitting out is the prudent financial move.

France still has a large pool of talent to draw from, including Tony Parker, Boris Diaw, Joffrey Lauvergne and Nando de Colo. But that might not be enough in the toughest qualifying tournament.

This opens the door a little wider for Canada and Turkey.