Pacers’ George on 2016 Olympics: ‘I’ll just listen to my body after this year’

Indiana Pacers star forward Paul George was named one of the 30 finalists for the 2016 U.S. men’s Olympic basketball team on Monday, but it’s unclear if he’ll ultimately make the trip to Rio.

On merit alone, George certainly qualifies as a legitimate threat to make the team. He’s a top-12 player at worst — implying he should make the 12-man roster — and has a skill set that should translate well internationally. 

There are only a couple things standing in his way.

First, the fierce competition at forward: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Draymond Green, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Carmelo Anthony are all worthy adversaries, and will challenge George for one of the five or six roster spots available to non-center frontcourt players.

The second and more pressing issue: The lingering concerns over George playing overseas given the severe leg injury he suffered in 2014 while playing for Team USA.

By making the penultimate cut, George has obviously shown interest in playing in the 2016 Olympics. He wouldn’t have been chosen otherwise. But according to Candace Bucker of the Indianapolis Star, George might choose to sit out instead of risking his health in international play:

This makes complete sense. George is just getting back to the intense grind of a full 82-game season, and he cares more about his long-term health — and the Pacers’ success — than representing his country in one or two Olympics. 

Of course, it’s clearly a conflicting decision, and one that he will assess in detail. Playing in the Olympics is a privilege and honor few NBA players get to experience. George obviously wants to represent his country and expand his brand on a global scale — it’s just a matter of risk assessment and prioritizing the right things.

It’s too early to speculate whether George will be on the team, as he has to be offered a spot (though some think he will be no matter what given the injury he suffered). But with such a loaded field — especially in the frontcourt — it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s left off given his current hesitance.

(h/t ProBasketballTalk)

Jovan Buha covers the NBA for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jovanbuha.