NBA

Why Kings' De'Aaron Fox likely walked away from Team USA opportunity

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Why Kings' De'Aaron Fox likely walked away from Team USA opportunity

After two weeks of build-up, Saturday’s news that De’Aaron Fox had removed himself from the Team USA World Cup roster came as a shock.

According to Yahoo! Sports’ Chris Haynes, the Kings point guard made the decision so he could “focus on [the] upcoming season with [the] goal of making [the] playoffs," which is great for Sacramento but also slightly confusing.

Fox had been nothing but all in on the experience throughout Team USA camp in Las Vegas two weeks ago and again this week in Los Angeles. Both on and off the record, Fox expressed excitement about the process and the potential of playing for Team USA.

Fox turned heads with his speed and shooting ability, and up until halftime of Friday night’s game against Spain, he looked like Team USA’s backup point guard behind Kemba Walker.

Following the 90-81 win over Spain at Honda Center, NBC Sports California spoke to Fox, and he said was honored to wear the Team USA uniform.

“It was definitely great to play against a different country. This was my first time doing it,” Fox said. “I definitely had a blast doing it.”

When asked if he was boarding a plane for Australia the next day, Fox, like the rest of the team, had yet to be notified of they were making the squad, and said, “We’ll find out.”

Team USA Gregg Popovich announced after the game that all 14 finalists vying for 12 roster spots would make the trip to Australia, to prepare for the tournament, which starts Aug. 31 in China.

After playing just six minutes against Spain, Fox had to have some apprehension over his situation with Team USA. Dropping everything and boarding the team plane means spending a minimum of 12 days in Australia, with the potential for another 17 days in China after that.

You need to be sure about what the commitment means before jumping in with both feet. Venturing on the road with no assurances of making the squad is a tall ask, but that’s exactly what Popovich and Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo asked of Fox and others Friday night. 

While the experience could help with Fox’s development — and likely already has — it also would put a tremendous amount of wear and tear on the 21-year-old. Just in airline flights alone, he’d be looking at close to 20,000 miles with Team USA.

With the Kings already booked on an October preseason trip to India, Fox would be committing himself to nearly 40,000 miles in the air over an eight-week period leading up to an 82-game regular-season schedule. Adding to the equation, the Kings will travel the third-most miles in the NBA this upcoming season, including two trips to both New York and Florida.

Kings swingman Harrison Barnes decided to stay with Team USA, but he also started the game against Spain, and has all but secured a roster spot as one of the longest-tenured players. Barnes also is a seasoned veteran who has been through this process before and knows what lies ahead.

[RELATED: Why Fox isn't upset at one national TV game]

In the end, it’s disappointing that Fox won’t be fighting for a gold medal with the national team, but he likely made the best decision for himself and the Kings.

The NBA schedule is a brutal, and Fox is expected to carry a huge load for his team this season as it attempts to end a 13-year playoff drought. Having fresh legs and a fresh mind when training camp opens in late September is a must.
 

Source: Kings' De'Aaron Fox leaves Team USA to focus on making playoffs

Source: Kings' De'Aaron Fox leaves Team USA to focus on making playoffs

Well, so much for that.

Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox had been a standout this summer with Team USA, drawing rave reviews from just about everyone associated with the program, including head coach Gregg Popovich.

Despite only playing six minutes in Friday's exhibition win over Spain, Popovich informed the media that all 14 finalists, including Fox and Harrison Barnes, would be heading with the team to Australia as they continue their prep.

But Fox apparently had other ideas, as the Kentucky product has withdrawn from Team USA, a source confirmed to NBC Sports California's James Ham.

Yahoo! Sports' Chris Haynes was the first to report the news, noting Fox is choosing to focus on getting the Kings back to the playoffs. 

That is a bit of a shocker.

Last season, the Kings took a step in the right direction when Fox, Barnes, Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield led them to a 39-43 record and kept them in the playoff hunt for much of the year.

But the Western Conference got a lot tougher over the offseason. With Anthony Davis now a Laker, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George joining the Clippers, Mike Conley being acquired by the Jazz and the Rockets swapping Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook, the West will be the ultimate gauntlet this year.

And let's not forget about the Warriors, who despite the loss of Kevin Durant, still will be a threat.

[RELATED: Fox making most of Team USA time with Popovich]

A number of Western Conference stars elected not to participate in Team USA this summer, hoping instead to put all their focus on a title run next season in the wide-open NBA.

After a few weeks with the Red, White, and Blue, Fox apparently has chosen to put all his time and energy into helping the Kings snap their playoff drought.

How Warriors' Bob Myers found positive in final Kevin Durant meeting

How Warriors' Bob Myers found positive in final Kevin Durant meeting

When Kevin Durant elected to leave the Warriors for the Brooklyn Nets when free agency opened June 30, many criticized the way in which the two-time NBA Finals MVP handled his move from coast to coast. 

Prior to his announcement to join the Nets, Durant had Warriors general manager Bob Myers fly out to New York so he could inform him of his decision in person, He did not, however, wait for Steph Curry's plane to land before word of his move to Brooklyn had leaked out. 

While some have been critical of Durant having a face-to-face with Myers just to tell him he would not be choosing to stay with the Warriors, Myers is glad the meeting/goodbye took place.

"Here's what I wanted," Myers told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami on "The TK Show" podcast. "Some people I had seen write that he made me fly all the way out there. I enjoy sitting and looking at you. We had a relationship. I like hearing news. I don't think we do enough of this in life. Look at me and tell me what you're thinking. Good, bad, whatever. Let's do it that way.

"I think our relationship had earned that. So for me, even hearing that he wasn't coming back in person, I'd rather have that all day long. And I appreciated that. Some people will say 'Well, you flew to New York to hear he wasn't coming back?' Absolutely. I'd fly to China to talk to him about what he wants to do. He earned that. He deserves that. I wanted that. It also gave me some closure, as far as to hear somebody, to see their body language and hear their conviction and hear all of it, was better for me than what, a text message or an Instagram announcement or a phone call. I don't want that. So I didn't know it until then."

Myers was grateful Durant wanted to talk with him face-to-face and was fully open about his decision to end his chapter with the Warriors.

"He told me to my face, which I appreciated," Myers continued. "I didn't know before then. I had a sense that it might go the other way. But part of me wanted to allow him ... this was a time, as it is with all the players, they don't owe us anything. This is their moment to be a free agent. He doesn't have to tell me. He didn't even have to say anything then. He could have said 'Tune in, I'll let you know' or he could have done whatever he wanted to do. He's earned that.

"So for me, I was hopeful that I'd get an answer and I did. And that's when he chose to give it, which was his prerogative. So when I got there, we talked about a ton of different things, but obviously, it got to that point and he said he wasn't coming back and I asked him for his thoughts and he told me what they were."

Durant's exit from the Bay closed one of the most historic runs in sports.

Since the 2014 NBA MVP arrived in Oakland, the Warriors nearly were unbeatable, winning two NBA championships before losing a third after Durant ruptured his Achilles and Klay Thompson tore his ACL. At full strength with Durant, Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green, the Warriors were the greatest collection of talent in NBA history. A runaway freight train that couldn't be stopped once it went into high gear. A unit that had no problem toying with opponents for long stretches due to sheer boredom before turning it on and blowing the other team away.

[RELATED: Check out Chase Center's progress ahead of Warriors' opener]

Durant will spend the next year rehabbing his Achilles, hoping to make his return to the court in the 2020-21 season, while the Warriors enter the next season unsure of what the future holds. Can Curry, Green and new-addition D'Angelo Russell keep the Warriors alive until Thompson returns from his ACL rehab near the end of the season?

It's a new day in the NBA, but the Warriors and Durant always will have those three historic years.