Injured Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard pulls out of Olympics

Los Angeles Clippers star and Team USA forward Kawhi Leonard will not play in the upcoming Olympics, prioritizing his well-being for the next NBA season, officials said Wednesday.

Leonard, 33, had been hobbling with an injured knee during the Clippers’ first-round playoff loss to the eventual Western Conference champion Dallas Mavericks.

“The organization and the Clippers determined it’s in Leonard’s best interest to spend the rest of the summer preparing for the upcoming season,” USA Basketball said in a statement.

Leonard played in Games 2 and 3 of the best-of-7 series, won Dallas won four games to two.

“I want to thank Kawhi for his commitment to the USA Men’s National Team,” team managing director Grant Hill said in statement. “He earned the opportunity to represent the United States, but USA Basketball and Clippers leadership felt it’s important to allow Kawhi to prepare for the NBA season.”

USA Basketball added Boston Celtics guard Derrick White to the roster to take Leonard’s spot.

Team USA already has two other members of the championship Celtics, Jayson Tatum and Jrue Holiday.

White could play a key complementary role on a team already loaded with superstars such as NBA all-time scoring leader LeBron James and 3-point shooting great Steph Curry.

White was just the fourth-leading scorer for Boston, averaging 15.2 points per contest. But he did that in a very efficient manner — knocking down 39.2% of his 3-point attempts and 90.1% of his free throws, both well above the league averages of 36.6% and 78.4%, respectively.

He was also named to the NBA’s all-defensive second team.

“I am happy to announce that Derrick will compete at his first Olympic Games on the heels of a championship season in Boston,” Hill said. “We look forward to him joining the team in the coming days as we continue preparations for Paris.”

The star-studded American team is set to open Olympic play on July 28 against Serbia in Lille.

The U.S. is gunning for its fifth consecutive gold medal. And while the Americans are heavy favorites to win it all, many of the NBA’s best players will be in the tournament and wearing uniforms that are not red, white and blue.

Three-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokić is expected to play for Serbia, while two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is set to compete for Greece.

But the most likely challengers to American dominance would appear to be Canada and host France.

The hometown favorites feature twin towers Victor Wembanyama and Rudy Gobert.

The gold medal game is set for the night of Aug. 10 at Bercy Arena in Paris.

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