Cavaliers' Kevin Love Withdraws from Team USA Ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 16, 2021

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 10: Kevin Love #11 of the USA Men's National Team looks on during the game against the Nigeria Men's National Team on July 10, 2021 at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers veteran big man Kevin Love has pulled out of the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Love's agent, Jeff Schwartz, released the following statement on behalf of Love to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski: "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."

According to Wojnarowski, Love is attempting to fully recover from a right calf injury that forced him to miss significant time during the 2020-21 NBA season.

Love was one of the 12 players initially chosen for the United States men's basketball Olympic team and spent the past 10 days working out, practicing and playing exhibitions with the squad before deciding against going to Tokyo.

There was a great deal of skepticism among fans and pundits when Love was chosen for Team USA given the tough season he endured in 2020-21.

The 32-year-old veteran appeared in only 25 games and averaged just 12.2 points per game, which was his lowest scoring average since his rookie season. He also contributed 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per contest while shooting 40.9 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from beyond the arc.

Love had experience on his side, as he was on the gold-medal-winning Team USA at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Team USA also had limited options in terms of big men, especially with Los Angeles Lakers superstar Anthony Davis pulling himself out of consideration. Before removing himself from the team Friday, Love was the only true big on the squad besides Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo.

Love is a quality shooter for a big man, having averaged at least 2.0 three-pointers made per game in each of the past six NBA seasons. He also shoots a solid 37.0 percent from long range for his career.

With so many quality guards on the roster, spreading the floor with a stretch 4 or 5 in Love would likely be beneficial to head coach Gregg Popovich's system.

The Americans are off to a slow start, though, losing exhibition games to Nigeria and Australia before bouncing back with a 108-80 win over Argentina on Tuesday.

Love had no points and one rebound in three minutes against Nigeria, didn't play against Australia and then contributed one point and four rebounds in 12 minutes against Argentina.

Team USA has already undergone some significant changes since the initial roster was selected. In addition to Love leaving the team, Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal will no longer be part of it after being placed in COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Detroit Pistons forward Jerami Grant was also placed in protocols out of caution, but there is still a chance he will be able to go to Tokyo with the team.

For now, the Team USA brass is tasked with finding at least two replacements and integrating Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and Milwaukee Bucks teammates Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday into the team once the NBA Finals end.

Given all those factors, the Americans are facing some significant obstacles en route to a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal.


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