James Harden will not play with USA Basketball this summer in order to focus on Rockets
James Harden said he will not be with the USA Basketball team this summer to prepare for changes with Rockets. Said already spoke with Gregg Popovich.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) July 19, 2019
Harden has past experience with the national team. He was with Team USA when they won gold in the 2012 Olympics, as well as in 2014 when they won the FIBA tournament.
His best national team performance came in the FIBA tournament when he scored 23 points in the final game, leading Team USA to victory over Serbia.
It makes sense that Harden would take a break from national team basketball and not play in the FIBA World Cup this summer. He has put a heavy workload on himself the past few seasons. In the last four campaigns, Harden has only missed a total of 15 games. Additionally, he has averaged about 37 minutes a game in the regular season.
All these minutes can take a toll on the body, and Harden is arguably entering the biggest season of his career. After the team swapped out Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, there will be a lot of pressure on Harden’s shoulders to show he can still work with his former teammate. He will need to be fully healthy and completely energized to start the season, as the Rockets would face enormous pressure with a slow start.
Team USA will miss James Harden, but there are plenty of great American ballplayers. Both parties should be able to find success without each other, with the star guard hoping to finally win an NBA championship next season.