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Team USA Defends De’Aaron Fox Following ESPN Criticism

(Pat Carter/Getty Images)

(Pat Carter/Getty Images)

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.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA and UK Hoops. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

8 Comments for Team USA Defends De’Aaron Fox Following ESPN Criticism

  1. JASUN74
    8:16 pm September 17, 2019 Permalink

    My Kings needed him to get ready. We’re making the playoffs this year and not going out quietly when we get there. It’s been too long and although losing Willy hurt, we’re going to be a hard out anyway. Guys honestly, I’d you get the Time this year, try to check them out a few games. It’s just a fun team to watch every single game and their never out of the game. I saw them down twenty or thirty points a few times and every time they came back to make it very close or win the game. Just a couple games cost them last year from making it but they’ll probably be around A four or maybe a fifth seed.

    • A_Blue_Wildcat
      10:07 pm September 17, 2019 Permalink

      Just about the entire west improved except the Kings and you think they’re going to make the playoffs? Good luck

  2. UKFanSC
    8:18 pm September 17, 2019 Permalink

    If Jerry Colangelo cannot make participation on team USA compelling to NBA players, that’s on him.

  3. jfloyd
    6:09 am September 18, 2019 Permalink

    You don’t get why he’s singled out? Fox was the only guy to actually travel to Australia and then decide to leave.

    • 4everUKblue
      7:54 am September 18, 2019 Permalink

      See UKinIN’s comment below.

    • njcat54
      6:50 pm September 18, 2019 Permalink

      Fox left the team the night before the team flew to Australia.

      So ya, it’s a good question.

  4. UKinIN
    6:38 am September 18, 2019 Permalink

    If you’re calling out players it has to start with the Top 5 guys that decided not to play. Fox didn’t even make the team until everyone above him turned down the invitation or left during training camp. Unfortunately when the most recognizable players say no, it has a trickle down effect on the players ranked below them.

  5. J-Dub421
    10:01 am September 18, 2019 Permalink

    If Colangelo and company want the top players to play for team USA, then they need to shorten the NBA season. It’s that simple.