Team USA tells Paul George he has a spot on the 2016 Olympic team no matter what


(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Paul George may be down for now when it comes to Team USA, but he’s not out. USA Basketball plans to keep a roster spot open for the injured Indian Pacers star so he can play in the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

“We’ve told him we have a spot for him in ’16,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told NBA.com. He noted the offer was unconditional and not dependent on how George comes back from his injury.

“We thought it’s the right thing to do,” Colangelo said. “We didn’t give thought to all the detail. Just that when a guy goes down and all these things, the circumstances, his career passes before him, he’s out for a year, a year-plus, he’s not able to participate now with us — we wanted to throw that out and say, ‘We’re counting on you. You’ve got a spot in ’16.’ ”

George underwent emergency surgery last week to repair a compound fracture in his right leg, which he suffered while playing a Team USA intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas last week. His recovery is expected to take several months, with George potentially missing the entire 2014-15 NBA season and definitely missing the FIBA World Cup, which starts late this month.

However, just because George won’t be there in person doesn’t mean he won’t be there in spirit. Team USA’s players are planning a tribute to their fallen teammate. NBA.com’s Scott Howard-Cooper reports the team has looked into writing messages on their shoes or adding a special patch to their uniforms, but that would go against FIBA rules when it comes to team kits, so the Team USA is still thinking.

“As far as the players are concerned, this is a rallying point in terms of what happened to Paul,” Colangelo told NBA.com. “We just want to take some steps that are yet to be determined that we’re talking about to bring attention to Paul George and what his contribution has been.”

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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Marissa Payne · August 8, 2014