Kawhi Leonard withdraws from Team USA for upcoming Paris Olympics

Kawhi Leonard has withdrawn from Team USA's basketball team for the upcoming Olympics in Paris, USA Basketball announced on Wednesday.

"Kawhi has been ramping up for the Olympics over the past several weeks and had a few strong practices in Las Vegas," said a statement from USA Basketball. "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."

Leonard played 68 games during the 2023-24 NBA regular season while dealing with chronic knee soreness and inflammation. He took part in every Team USA practice and scrimmage during the build-up to the Paris Games, but Leonard and team staff felt that his knee would limit him from being 100% during the Olympic tournament.

Leonard missed the entire 2021-22 NBA season after tearing his ACL during the 2021 postseason and was limited to only two games during the 2023 playoffs due to a torn meniscus.

He said earlier this month that the Clippers were "not really" worried about him playing for Team USA. "They were positive about the situation," Leonard said. "So, yeah, they wasn't too worried about it."

Derrick White of the Boston Celtics has been named as a replacement. White was on the 2019 FIBA World Cup squad that finished seventh.

"I am happy to announce that Derrick will compete at his first Olympic Games on the heels of a championship season in Boston," said USA Basketball Men's National Team managing director Grant Hill in a statement. "We look forward to him joining the team in the coming days as we continue preparations for Paris.

"I want to thank Kawhi for his commitment to the USA Men's National Team. 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."

Team USA begins its pre-Olympic exhibition schedule Wednesday night in Las Vegas against Canada. They will then travel to the United Arab Emirates for two games against Australia and Serbia next week before wrapping up the tour in London against South Sudan and Germany.

Serbia, South Sudan and Puerto Rico will be Team USA's opponents in the Olympic group phase, which begins July 28 in Lille, France.

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