Tokyo 2020 - Kevin Love becomes latest NBA All-Star to withdraw from Team USA squad ahead of Olympic Games
Cleveland Cavaliers veteran and Olympic gold medallist Kevin Love has withdrawn from the Team USA squad for Tokyo 2020 due to injury, just a day after Bradley Beal was forced out of the Games due to COVID-19 protocols. "I am incredibly disappointed to not be heading to Tokyo," Love said in a statement released by his agent.
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 15: Head Coach Gregg Popovich coaches Kevin Love #11 of the USA Men's National Team during USAB Men's National Team practice at the Mendenhall Center on July 15, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
He has spent the last 10 days training with the squad but played only three minutes of the shock exhibition defeat to Nigeria last Saturday and did not feature at all as Team USA lost again, to Australia, on Monday.
Love’s agent confirmed the news when he released a statement on his player’s behalf to ESPN. “I am incredibly disappointed to not be heading to Tokyo with Team USA,” it read.
“But you need to be at absolute peak performance to compete at the Olympic level and I am just not there yet.”
News of Love’s withdrawal comes a day after it was revealed that team-mate Bradley Beal would miss Tokyo 2020 due to health and safety protocols.
Washington Wizards guard Beal had been placed under COVID-19 protocols on Wednesday in Las Vegas, where Team USA have held their training camp and exhibition matches.
The decision led Team USA to cancel their penultimate warm-up match against Australia, which had been scheduled to take place on Friday “out of an abundance of caution”.
“I’m dying for him,” coach Popovich said. “We all are.”
Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant was also placed under protocols, although USA Basketball insisted that was only a precautionary move.
Beal started all three of Team USA’s exhibition matches to date and scored 17 points in the 108-80 win over Argentina on Tuesday.
The three-time NBA All-Star has been in the form of his life this season and finished the 2020-21 campaign with 31.3 points per game – second only to Steph Curry.
Team-mate Bam Adebayo revealed to reporters that Beal had not experienced any symptoms as he wished the Wizards guard well.
Jordan vs LeBron at Olympic Games
“It still definitely gives you PTSD, somebody catching COVID," Adebayo said. "I remember when I had it, just one of those things I wouldn't wish on anybody.”
Beal had been expected to play a starring role for Team USA in Tokyo, having missed out on selection for the Basketball World Cup in China two years ago due to family reasons.
He scored only two points against Nigeria last weekend, as the USA opened their warm-up campaign with a surprise loss, but combined for 29 points in the next two matches.
“Bradley, there's no doubt, he's a huge loss. He was playing every well, understanding everything and fit in well with the group," Popovich said. "So there's no next Bradley Beal."
Popovich must now decide how he is going to replace both Beal and Love in his squad for the Olympics. Team USA’s campaign is due to start with a match against France a week on Sunday.
The replacements may well come from the 17-player USA Basketball Select Team that has been training alongside the Olympic squad in Las Vegas.
That would put Naz Reid and Isaiah Stewart in line to replace Love, while Darius Garland, Keldon Johnson and Saddiq Bey are among the candidates to take Beal’s spot.
Team USA have one more warm-up match lined up. Popovich’s side are due to face Spain in Las Vegas on Sunday night ahead of the squad’s departure for Japan.