Eric Gordon has withdrawn from Team USA training camp
Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon has reportedly withdrawn from the Team USA training camp, and will effectively no longer be a part of the FIBA World Cup this summer, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 20, 2019
Gordon follows a number of NBA stars who have made last-minute withdrawals from the World Cup. Rockets teammate James Harden recently announced his decision to forego on the opportunity to represent Team USA this August.
Likewise, newly-acquired Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis also dropped his name from the pool. Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons also opted to pull out from Team Australia, as he reportedly wants to use the summer to focus on the upcoming NBA season.
It’s pretty obvious that the common denominator between these final minute pull-outs is that all of these guys want to spend more time to prepare for the 2019-20 season. For the first time in around five seasons, the league is wide open. The Rockets are still among the handful of contenders for the Larry O.B. in 2019-20. And this decision from Gordon indicates that the Rockets are already looking to put in some work as they focus on their goal of winning a championship next season.
Houston will get a new look in 2019-20 with the recent acquisition of Russell Westbrook from the Oklahoma City Thunder, reuniting the 2016-17 MVP with his former teammate, the 2017-18 MVP James Harden. No doubt, Westbrook is an upgrade over aging point guard Chris Paul.
However, issues with fit alongside Harden raises questions on whether this iteration of the Rockets can actually work. Though the two worked well before in Oklahoma City, Harden and Westbrook have separately become two of the highest usage rate players in the history of the league.
It appears like Houston is looking to use this summer to put more work into ironing out that particular wrinkle.