Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook will sit out the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain this summer.
Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the news, noting that the explosive 25-year-old still hopes to join Team USA in Brazil for the 2016 Olympics.
Jerry Colangelo, via USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt, confirmed the report:
USA Basketball's Jerry Colangelo confirmed report that Thunder guard Russell Westbrook will miss this summer's FIBA World Championship.— Jeff Zillgitt (@JeffZillgitt) July 8, 2014
It's unfortunate. Westbrook is one of the most scintillating, athletic guards in the world and was a part of the gold medal squads in both 2010 (world championships) and 2012 (Olympics). However, it's a move that makes sense.
The Oklahoman's Anthony Slater put it simply:
Probably a good decision by Russell Westbrook to pull out of the World games. Explosive as ever in playoffs, but 3 surgeries is 3 surgeries.— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) July 8, 2014
Yep. Westbrook has had three surgeries on his right knee in the past 14 months, and as Wojnarowski noted, the World Cup is a "two-month commitment that includes a July training camp, August exhibition tour and September tournament in Spain."
Westbrook is young, and by all indications, after averaging 26.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.1 assists and 2.2 steals during the postseason, he is healthy. But there's no real reason for him to push himself this offseason.
Right decision by Westbrook?
This is especially true when considering the bevy of talent the United States boasts at the point guard position.
Chris Paul is out, and Derrick Rose is very unlikely, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, but that still leaves Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard in the USA player pool. James Harden, whose game is built for the wide-open international style, can also handle the ball if necessary.
Westbrook's exclusion is a bit disappointing simply because there's never a dull moment when he's on the court, but the USA can handle the loss better than any country in the world.
Even when you add in the absences of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, the Americans will be the favorites in Spain.