Kawhi Leonard withdraws from Team USA, Derrick White will play in Paris Olympics

The U.S. men’s basketball team has made a roster change.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard won’t play in the Paris Olympics and Boston Celtics guard Derrick White will replace him, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.

“Kawhi has been ramping up for the Olympics over the past several weeks and had a few strong practices in Las Vegas,” the statement said. “He felt ready to compete. However, he respects that USA Basketball and the Clippers determined it’s 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.”

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The 33-year-old Leonard has battled through various injuries over the past several years. He had played 60 games or fewer in four straight seasons before suiting up for 68 contests in 2023-24, but he missed the Clippers’ final three playoff games due to right knee inflammation.

Leonard, in speaking to reporters earlier this week at Team USA training camp, said that his injury had improved and he felt ready to represent the country in his first Olympics.

After Leonard’s withdrawal and White’s addition, the Americans will face Canada in an exhibition on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, with Kevin Durant already set to sit out due to a calf injury.

Team USA has subsequent tune-ups scheduled for July 15 (vs. Australia in Abu Dhabi), July 17 (vs. Serbia in Abu Dhabi), July 20 (vs. South Sudan in London) and July 22 (vs. Germany in London). The Olympics slate begins on July 28 against three-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic and Serbia.Despite playing different positions, the newly-crowned NBA champion is a similarly versatile defender.

White, who played for Team USA at the 2019 World Cup, averaged a career-best 15.2 points per game for the Celtics last season. He increased his scoring average to 16.7 over 19 postseason games while shooting 40.4% from deep and making key defensive plays in several moments.

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