With so much roster upheaval this summer, several NBA players have decided to skip this summer’s FIBA World Championships to concentrate on preparing for the new season.
James Harden is the Latest Player to Pull out of the Tournament
With his team making one of the biggest trades of the summer, James Harden has decided to skip the FIBA World Championships of basketball to concentrate on getting ready for the upcoming season with the Houston Rockets.
After trading Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook, the Houston Rockets have pushed their chips all in trying to chase an NBA title. While many have questioned if Harden and Westbrook can co-exist on the basketball court, what we do know is that they are friends off it. That will help tremendously considering the contentious relationship it is reported Harden had with Chris Paul.
The fit with Westbrook might not be as obvious which is one reason Harden has decided to skip out on the World Championships in order to have as much time to build chemistry with his new teammate. While Westbrook is not a traditional point guard in the mold of Paul, he is a much more dynamic and overall better player. It also helps that they were teammates in Oklahoma City although they are very different players now than they were at that time. With two former MVP’s on their roster, it’s now or never for the Rockets who have been close but not quite good enough to advance to the NBA Finals.
Several Stars Around the League Will Miss the Tournament
Another star that has withdrawn from the FIBA World Championships is Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers. This move makes sense for many reasons but obviously wanting to get as much time with his new teammates while getting accustomed to his new surrounding is a major factor. On top of that, Davis has a long history of injury issues. When you couple that with his limited playoff experience, the Lakers don’t really need him playing extra games considering they expect to make a deep playoff run. It’s championship or bust in Los Angeles and that mentality is not exclusive to the Lakers in that city anymore either. The Los Angeles Clippers will be hot on their heels and Davis, LeBron James and company will want to have as much time as possible together to prepare for their championship push.
Another young NBA star that has decided to not participate in the tournament although this one does not play for Team USA. Having signed a new max contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons has decided to not play for the Australian national team. This is the biggest season of Simmons career after a disappointing post season performance, particularly against the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors. The fact that the 76ers still paid him even though he played below par is the ultimate sign of confidence. All the talk is that he will spend time working on the biggest weakness to his game, his outside shot which ultimately hampered his effectiveness in the playoffs.