Kawhi Leonard withdraws from Team USA ahead of the FIBA World Cup

(Tony Gutierrez/AP)

The MVP of the 2014 NBA Finals will not be representing Team USA in the upcoming FIBA World Cup basketball tournament.

“This was a very difficult decision,” Leonard said (via MySanAntonio.com). “I want to go out and compete the guys from these other countries but I need the time to heal and just rest my body from the long season.”

While Leonard didn’t say Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich forbade him from the international competition that starts in August, he hinted that he was scared of Popovich shutting him down after the completion of the weeks-long tournament, just as he did for two weeks last year to Tony Parker, who competed for France in 2013′s Eurobasket tournament.

“That’s tough on your body to keep going. I’m just learning from Tony and Manu [Ginobili], just going into that offseason and playing so hard and then coming back and their bodies not feeling the same and then being tired for the regular season. So I’m just learning from them.”

The final roster for the tournament that runs from August 30 to September 14 is not yet finalized, but the players who will participate in the Las Vegas training camp from July 28 to August 1 have been confirmed. They include:

  • DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors)
  • Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks)
  • Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards)
  • DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings)
  • Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)
  • Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans)
  • Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
  • Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder)
  • Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets)
  • Paul George (Indiana Pacers)
  • Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers)
  • James Harden (Houston Rockets)
  • Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz)
  • Kyrie Irving (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  • Kyle Korver (Atlanta Hawks)
  • Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
  • Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
  • Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
  • Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)
Marissa Payne writes for The Early Lead, a fast-breaking sports blog, where she focuses on what she calls the “cultural anthropological” side of sports, aka “mostly the fun stuff.” She is also an avid WWE fan.
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