De’Aaron Fox wasn’t the only star NBA player to withdraw from playing in the FIBA World Cup this summer for Team USA, but he’s still taking some heat for it.
This past Thursday on ESPN’s The Jump, one of the panelists, Amin Elhassan, on the NBA show suggested that the former Kentucky and current Sacramento Kings’ guard would not be welcomed back to play for Team USA in the future. Elhassan added that he didn’t understand what Fox was “saving himself for”. Here’s how the interaction between Elhassan and fellow panelist, Richard Jefferson, went down:
Jefferson: “Will De’Aaron Fox ever be able to play for the USA team?”
Elhassan: “No, not as long as Jerry Colangelo is in charge.”
Craig Miller, the USA basketball communications director, did not agree. He told The Sacramento Bee on Saturday that the program “understands De’Aaron’s decision” to remove himself from the event.
“Given De’Aaron was added into consideration for the World Cup team after originally being part of the USA Select Team in Las Vegas, USA Basketball understands De’Aaron’s decision,” Miller told The Sacramento Bee.
Fox, along with Kings teammate Marvin Bagley, were originally members of the USA Select Team before they were called up to join the national team as they prepared for the trip to China. Both players withdrew shortly after to prepare for the upcoming 2019-20 NBA season, one that has somewhat high expectations for a Kings team that isn’t used to being on the up-and-up.
Team USA could have used Fox’s services on the court, as the red, white, and blue crashed to a seventh-place finish that concluded last week. After Kemba Walker and Donovan Mitchell, Team USA didn’t exactly have a serviceable backup point guard and Fox would have filled that void to perfection. But you can hardly hold that against him after witnessing the historic collapse of Team USA in the FIBA World Cup.
Also, Fox and the Kings will make a trip to India in early Oct. to participate in a couple of preseason games, which would have added a 19-hour flight (and another 19-hour flight back) on top of the traveling for Team USA. Fox is “saving himself” in hopes that he can end a 13-year playoff drought for Sacramento in a loaded Western Conference. Spending an extra two weeks in China just to fall all the way to seventh in a pre-Olympics tournament is all the explanation Fox should need when facing criticism about why he decided to withdraw.
USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo was not quiet about his frustrations following Team USA’s worst finish at a major tournament since 1992 and said that he’d remember all the players who decided to withdraw.
I’m not sure why Fox was singled out considering there is an endless list of players who withdrew that are overwhelmingly better and more experienced than the 21-year old. The roster for the 2020 Olympics team is expected to be more star-packed – as the Olympics typically draw more talent than FIBA play – and Fox could very well find himself back in the mix.