USA Basketball is certain to have a dominant squad for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George might not be a part of it.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, USA Basketball executive director Jerry Colangelo has promised George a spot on the roster, but the 25-year-old isn’t sure his body can handle the extra work.
“I had a long year. This has been a long year coming from rehab. I just know how my body has taken these first 50-plus games, not knowing what these playoffs are going to do to my body. So there is a decision coming at the end of the year, is the smart thing to continue on or take a little bit of time for some rest and let my body heal?”
George missed a majority of the 2014-15 season because of a broken leg, appearing in only six games. The injury happened during the 2014 USA Basketball Showcase, a glorified scrimmage for NBA players who will potentially represent America in international competition.
Indiana’s superstar continued his recovery tour during the 2016 All-Star Game, pouring in 41 points while draining a record nine three-pointers. George finished just shy of breaking Wilt Chamberlain’s 54-year-old mark of 42.
This season, George has averaged a career-best 23.3 points while registering 7.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game. Only Russell Westbrook has also managed those numbers, according to Basketball-Reference.
More notably, though, George isn’t playing limited minutes. Taking the summer off would be a smart decision.
Besides, it’s not like USA Basketball has a shortage of talent. Adi Joseph of Sporting News pointed out that each initial All-Star was an American.
Keep in mind that all 24 initially named All-Stars are American. Team USA is going to sleepwalk into a gold medal this summer.
— Adi Joseph (@AdiJoseph) February 15, 2016
If George ultimately decides to pass on the 2016 Olympics, Team USA will still choose from an excellent group of small forwards that includes LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Draymond Green, Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay, Gordon Hayward and Harrison Barnes.
Swingmen Klay Thompson, James Harden and Jimmy Butler could slide up to the 3 based on the lineup or if necessary, too. Again, USA Basketball doesn’t lack options.
We’d love to see George represent the country and bring his feel-good return story full circle, but no one could blame the All-Star for deciding to protect his body and potentially wait to chase a gold medal in 2020.