James Harden joins Russell Westbrook, withdraws from Rio Olympics consideration
Russell Westbrook and James Harden have joined a growing list of NBA players who, for one reason or another, have decided against playing for USA Basketball this summer at the Rio Olympics.
The Oklahoma City Thunder announced Westbrook's decision via official release Friday afternoon.
"After speaking with my family, I have decided to not participate in this year's Olympics," Westbrook said in a statement. "This was not an easy decision, as representing my country at the World Championships in 2010 and the Olympics in 2012 were career highlights for me. I look forward to future opportunities as a member of USA Basketball."
Later on Friday, Westbrook's former teammate James Harden announced that after "a result of many different conversations with my family, the Rockets, and trusted advisors," that the current Houston guard also would not compete at this year's Summer Games.
Houston Rockets guard James Harden.
“This decision was a painstaking one that I did not take lightly," Harden said in a statement. "As a member of the 2012 London Olympic Gold Medal Team, and as team Captain for the 2014 FIBA Gold Medal Team, it goes without saying that USA Basketball has provided me with some of the most meaningful personal and professional accomplishments of my life. I have been extremely blessed to wear the ‘red, white and blue’ and to compete at the highest level with the greatest players representing the greatest country in the world. I sincerely hope I'll earn an opportunity to represent Team USA again in the future.”
Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, John Wall and Chris Paul are others in the league who have made similar declarations. DeMarcus Cousins is the only player who's reportedly been told he has a confirmed spot on the USA Basketball 12-man roster.
Curry and Westbrook were the first-team guards on the All-NBA team, and among the reasons the point guard position was considered a strength for the Americans.
But with their absences after Chris Paul declined to play and John Wall was injured, the two-time defending gold medalists are down to just Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, Portland's Damian Lillard and Memphis' Mike Conley at that position.
Lillard was cut before the 2014 Basketball World Cup and was the last player added to USA Basketball's 31-player roster pool for Rio. Neither he nor Conley has played for the Americans.
Irving was the MVP when the Americans won gold in Spain two years ago.
The Americans plan to announce their 12-player roster on June 27. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said earlier this week that he was considering 14 or 15 players from the original pool.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.