One injury to Paul George and another selfish and damaging decision from Kevin Durant opened the way for Rudy Gay to join the training camp of Team USA heading into the 2014 World Basketball Championship in Spain, with the Small Forward position needing severe improvement after the disasters of the previous week.
Gay isn’t a lock down defender nor is he a scorer at a historic level. Still, he has a gold medal from the 2010 tournament, when he came off the bench to average seven point per game, and he is a good scorer at any level, averaging 20 points per game last season while playing for both the Toronto Raptors and the Sacramento Kings.
Gay almost made the cut for the 2012 Olympic team but wasn’t on the final 12 men who traveled to London after the final thinning out was made. Training camp resumes this week in Chicago, with the championship beginning on August 30. After the Chicago phase of the process, with Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis playing in the city they grew up in, the final 12 man roster will be announced.
For now, Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis seem to be the 100% guys in. For the small forward position, both Chandler Parsons and Gordon Hayward are hoping to make it in, while Kyle Korver, brought in to be the shooting specialist, can also fill the position. In any case, the team needed a swing man who can play both the ‘3’ and ‘4’ in international basketball and has the ability to create points on his own. That is where Gay comes in.
At least through social media, Kevin Durant is going to feel the opposite of love. While it’s OK for a player to declare he’s tired and wants to prepare for the new season, the timing tells a different story – of someone who suddenly got some cold feet after what he saw happened to Paul George, or maybe he got some wise men to whisper in his ear and make him decide against playing international basketball.
Durant is a better player than anyone on the planet, but he’s probably not a better person or teammate. Suddenly realizing he was tired doesn’t make much sense, and although this team should be going into Spain as the favorites, especially with Gay joining the roster, if they don’t come back with the gold a lot of it will have to do with Kevin Durant making a 180 turn in his commitment at the last moment.