Clippers star Kawhi Leonard withdraws from US Olympic basketball team

Clippers star Kawhi Leonard withdraws from US Olympic basketball team


LAS VEGAS – Los Angeles Clippers All-Star Kawhi Leonard withdrew from the U.S. men’s senior basketball team and will not play in the 2024 Paris Olympics, USA Basketball announced Wednesday.

“Kawhi has been ramping up for the Olympics over the past several weeks and had a few strong practices in Las Vegas,” USA Basketball said in a statement. “He felt ready to compete. However, he respects that USA Basketball and the Clippers determined it’s in his best interest to spend the remainder of the summer preparing for the upcoming season rather than participating in the Olympic Games in Paris.”

Boston Celtics guard Derrick White will replace Leonard, a person with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to USA TODAY Sports. The person requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly until that announcement is made.

Leonard, who missed the Clippers’ final three playoff games in April with a sore right knee, arrived in Las Vegas last week for the team’s training camp and told reporters Sunday he was in good physical condition.

“It’s good. I’m ready to go,” Leonard told reporters. “I’m playing now, so I’m happy.”

He admitted he had concerns about playing in the Olympics but said, “I took the time, and I was able to turn it around over the last two weeks. So I’m out here now, and I’m having a good time.”

Leonard had surgery to repair a torn ACL three years ago and surgery to a repair a meniscus injury a year ago on his right knee.

White, an important player on Boston’s 2023-24 championship team, averaged 15.2 points, 5.2 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and 1.0 steals and shot 46.1% from the field, 39.6% on 3-pointers and 90.1% on free throws last season. He was named to the All-Defensive team for the second consecutive season.

White gives the U.S. another strong defender who can guard multiple positions, and he’s a capable scorer. He had double-figures in points in 17 of Boston’s 19 playoff games and scored at least 15 points in 12 of those games, including 38 against Miami in the first round. On July 6, White signed a four-year, $125 million extension with the Celtics.

He missed the final eight games of the regular season.

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