Suns' Chris Paul Reportedly Declines to Play for Team USA at 2021 Tokyo Olympics

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 2021

Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (3) in the first half of Game 4 of an NBA second-round playoff series Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul has declined an invitation to play for Team USA at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

USA Basketball has known that Paul was trending toward this decision for several days, per sources. If Suns reach NBA Finals, there would be virtually no break before end of his NBA season and start of July Olympics in Tokyo. https://t.co/1HS80xs5nf

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported earlier Tuesday that Paul planned to play in the Olympics.

The 36-year-old veteran previously played for Team USA in both the 2008 and 2012 Summer Games, leading the Americans to gold both times.

With Paul at the helm, the Suns reached the playoffs for the first time since 2010 this season, and they hold a 1-0 series lead over the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference Finals.

Paul missed the Suns' Game 1 win over the Clippers because he's in the COVID-19 health and safety protocols, but it was not expected to impact his ability to play for the United States later this summer.

CP3 was named an NBA All-Star for the 11th time this season. He averaged 16.4 points, 8.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 three-pointers made and 1.4 steals over 70 games, shooting 49.9 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from deep. The Suns finished with the second-best record in the NBA.

Phoenix had a roster stacked with young talent in the form of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges, but acquiring Paul from the Oklahoma City Thunder put it over the top.

Paul has led the NBA in assists four times and steals six times in his career, and he is one of the premier point guards of the past few decades, making him a surefire Hall of Famer.

Though not having Paul on the roster is a blow, the American Olympic team will feature plenty of star power.

Per ESPN, some of the players who have committed to Team USA include Kevin Durant and James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets, Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers, Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics and Booker.

Following Paul's decision, Wojnarowski reported Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday will also play in the Olympics, giving Team USA additional backcourt depth.

The United States is looking to win its fourth consecutive gold medal in men's basketball, which would mark Team USA's second-longest gold-medal streak at the Olympics behind the seven in a row it won from 1936 to 1968.

Paul is looking to win his first career NBA championship, as he and Booker have the Suns three wins away from the franchise's first NBA Finals appearance since 1993.