Kevin Love’s inclusion on Team USA for this summer’s Tokyo Olympics was among the most controversial, after his poor 2020-21 season. Moments ago, it was announced that he’ll no longer be making the trip to Japan for the event.
Love played in just 25 games for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, and has been limited to 103 games over the last three seasons due to injuries. He averaged 12.2 points in 2020-21—his lowest output since his rookie season—along with a career low 7.4 rebounds.
Jerry Colangelo explained that they brought Love on for his size, something Team USA lacks, as well as his international experience and willingness to be a role player next to stars like Kevin Durant and Damian Lillard. Head coach Gregg Popovich said that getting Love back into game shape was a big part of the plans for this pre-Olympics period, saying they were going to “work his ass off for the next four to five weeks and demand a lot” of the Cavaliers star. It sounds like Love hasn’t been able to get himself ready to play at a high level for the Olympics, which begin later this month.
Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that Love would be out for the event due to the right calf injury that he was trying to work through this morning. It has since been confirmed by his agent.
Agent Jeff Schwartz of @excelbasketball has confirmed news to ESPN and shared statement from Love: “I am incredibly disappointed to not be heading to Tokyo with Team USA, but you need to be at absolute peak performance to compete at the Olympic level and I am just not there yet.” https://t.co/Ph6DfKZOIf
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 16, 2021
It’s a tough draw for Love, and for Team USA overall, which has been hit with a string of rough news in recent weeks. The team seemed to be rounding into form on Tuesday, responding to back-to-back exhibition losses to Nigeria and Australia by blowing out Argentina. In the days since, however, the roster has fallen apart a bit.
Bradley Beal is out in health and safety protocols and will miss the trip to Tokyo. Jerami Grant is also in the protocol, though his status for the Olympics remains up in the air. Jayson Tatum has been dealing with an injury, and three major players for Team USA—Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Devin Booker—are still playing in the NBA Finals.
With just six players available, tonight’s second exhibition in Las Vegas against Australia has been canceled. The team, which is trying to add last minute replacement players for Beal and now Love, is scheduled to face Spain for one final exhibition on Sunday before heading to Tokyo. The first game of Olympic group play comes against France on July 25.