Celtics’ Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown, Warriors’ D’Angelo Russell among potential Team USA replacements
Team USA was never bringing its best possible roster to the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Superstars like LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard all opted against playing for the national program this summer. Still, their collective absence hardly meant the Americans’ pool of available talent, with players the caliber of James Harden and Anthony Davis set to play in China, was lackluster enough to make them anything other than prohibitive favorites when the competition begins on August 31.
But the recent defections of Harden, Davis, and more began calling that status into question. Now, sure to be without a single top-six player and momentum suggesting others who had previously committed to participate could bow out of contention, might Team USA actually be at risk of failing to defend its World Cup title?
In hopes of mitigating that possibility, USA Basketball is considering adding Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics and D’Angelo Russell of the Golden State Warriors to the training camp roster, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic.
Brown is a perfect fit for Team USA given his positional versatility and defensive ability, while Smart would occupy the role as the Americans’ designated perimeter stopper. The potential addition of a playmaker like Russell makes sense, too, considering the Americans have already lost Harden, Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, and Portland Trail Blazers star C.J. McCollum in recent days.
Training camp opens in Las Vegas the first week of August. From there, Team USA, coached by Gregg Popovich, will select 12 players to take to China and defend gold medals won in 2014 and 2010.