LaMarcus Aldridge Declines Invite to Play in 2016 Rio Olympics

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 7, 2016

San Antonio Spurs forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) runs up court during the first half in Game 2 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, May 2, 2016, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

Another marquee star will be unavailable for the United States men's basketball team at the 2016 Summer Olympics. As ESPN.com's Marc Stein first reported, San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge removed himself from the Team USA player pool Monday in order to allow a finger and hand injury to heal.

Spurs general manager R.C. Buford confirmed the news, per the Associated Press, and added that the team will "always support a player's decision when it comes to participation with his national team."

Aldridge's decision came on the same day Stephen Curry announced he won't play at the Olympic Games, per ESPN.com, which begin Aug. 5.

Stein noted the other NBA stars who have bowed out for health reasons:

Even healthy NBA stars may be having reservations about playing in the Olympics because of the spread of the Zika virus in Brazil.

In a statement in late May, the World Health Organization said moving the Olympics from Rio de Janeiro or canceling them altogether wouldn't impact the spread of the disease, but the Telegraph's Donna Bowater reported Saturday the WHO is again looking into the potential health risks posed by the Olympics.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told Stein on Monday that no American players have removed themselves from consideration as a result of the Zika virus.

The Bay Area News Group's Marcus Thompson, however, reported that Andre Iguodala may skip the Olympics because of the threat Zika poses. According to Thompson, LeBron James and Russell Westbrook may join him.

Pau Gasol's availability for Spain's national team is up in the air as well after he expressed concern about playing in Brazil.

Losing Aldridge is a blow for the United States. The 30-year-old averaged 18.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in his first season with the Spurs. He also registered the highest field-goal percentage (51.3) of his NBA career.

Still, the cupboard remains far from bare for Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski. Below are the frontcourt players from the field of finalists who remain in the picture for Team USA:

Team USA 2016 Roster: Frontcourt Players
PlayerTeam
Carmelo AnthonyNew York Knicks
Harrison BarnesGolden State Warriors
DeMarcus CousinsSacramento Kings
Andre DrummondDetroit Pistons
Kevin DurantOklahoma City Thunder
Kenneth FariedDenver Nuggets
Rudy GaySacramento Kings
Paul GeorgeIndiana Pacers
Draymond GreenGolden State Warriors
Gordon HaywardUtah Jazz
Dwight HowardHouston Rockets
Andre IguodalaGolden State Warriors
LeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers
DeAndre JordanLos Angeles Clippers
Kawhi LeonardSan Antonio Spurs
Kevin LoveCleveland Cavaliers
Source: USAB.com

Even taking James and Iguodala out of the equation would leave Krzyzewski with a strong squad, especially with Mike Conley, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson and James Harden in the backcourt.

Barring a mass exodus of NBA stars, the United States will be the favorite to defend its gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics.

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