'Dream Team' concept defunct after NBA stars beg off Team USA roster

'Dream Team' concept defunct after NBA stars beg off Team USA roster

Kevin Love dropped out of Team USA roster consideration Wednesday, just as Damian Lillard and Demar DeRozan did on Tuesday, as Bradley Beal and Tobias Harris did on Monday, shortly after James Harden and Anthony Davis.

There will be no Steph Curry or LeBron James. No Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. No James Harden or Kyrie Irving or Draymond Green. Zion Williamson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA draft, also sent his regards.

The prestige is gone. Maybe the thrill, too.

With the list of 2019 All-Stars making themselves available down to four – at last check – to represent the Team USA men in the upcoming World Cup, the term “Dream Team” can officially be placed where it should have been since the fall of 1992.

Used on multiple occasions over the quarter-century to describe USA teams in international competition, “Dream Team” may now be forever stored in the warm embrace of sports history, resting alongside such singular identifiers as The Legion of Boom, The Steel Curtain, The Big Red Machine and, of course, Phi Slama Jama.

For when Team USA hopefuls arrive for training camp Aug. 5 in Las Vegas, it will look more like a tryout for the two at-large berths on an NBA All-Star team than a chance to represent the country in the FIBA World Cup in China.

The 2019 All-Stars still available? Kemba Walker, Kyle Lowry, and Khris Middleton. And Lowry is recovering from surgery on his left thumb.

Assuming more players don’t drop out, the hopes of Team USA lie with -- in addition to Lowry, Middleton and Walker -- Andre Drummond, Harrison Barnes, Kyle Kuzma, Paul Millsap, Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Myles Turner, Brook Lopez and PJ Tucker.

All of which has USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo scrambling to find others willing to pursue what generally was thought of as a privilege. Names such as Jaylen Brown, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart and Thaddeus Young came bobbing to the surface. Good young players all, but nobody “dreams” of adding them to an international roster.

If Colangelo and his coaches, led by head coach Gregg Popovich with Steve Kerr among the assistants, work far enough down the list they’ll land upon Carmelo Anthony’s name. Why not?

Most of those who dropped out of running for Team USA are citing a commitment to their NBA teams. That’s a legitimate reason, as if one is needed. Some point to the World Cup schedule, which runs 16 days on the other side of the world before concluding on Sept. 15.

Most simply don’t care to put themselves at risk for what is considered a low-reward endeavor, certainly when compared to the 2020 Olympics, which are only one year away.

Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo remains committed to play for the Greek national team, making him the first reigning MVP to participate in the FIBA World Cup. Rudy Gobert still plans to represent France. Nikola Jokic still has Serbia’s back.

Canada, with the likes of Jamal Murray, Tristan Thompson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and R.J. Barrett, won’t blink before any team it faces.

The U.S. will roll some opponents, but there also will be close games and nervous moments. The general buzz will be lower, the names on the marquee dimmer than at any time in 30 years.

[RELATED: Kerr shares devastation over Warriors trading Iguodala]

With a strong coaching staff and a good roster, Team USA still should have enough to win gold. But a team composed of the Americans not participating would trounce the bunch Popovich will be forced to rely on.

Team USA has a history of great teams, but the only Dream Team was formed in ’92. On the roster: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Chris Mullin, Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, John Stockton and Christian Laettner. That’s 11 Hall of Famers, with a truckload of championship jewelry and MVP awards, and one collegian because there was thought to be value in the pretense of amateurism.

There will never be another Dream Team, and the group going to China can only dream of being in the same conversation.

Doc Rivers clarifies how Clippers acquired Paul George, Kawhi Leonard

Doc Rivers clarifies how Clippers acquired Paul George, Kawhi Leonard

“Mr. Ballmer, I love the things you do and what you stand for, but your team is not good enough and if you don’t change your team, I’m not coming.”

That was the blunt statement Kawhi Leonard gave to Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer during the team’s recruitment meeting with Leonard prior to the start of NBA free agency, as told by head coach Doc Rivers in a recent conversation with the Los Angeles Times’ Arash Markazi.

“We actually had a list of guys, which was a mistake, but we got lucky,” Rivers said. “We shouldn’t have had a list, because then he got to choose who he wanted to play with and the assumption was that we could get them. We didn’t know if we could get anybody. We just showed him guys that we thought would match him and when he saw Paul George’s name he said, ‘I want to play with him.’”

The Clippers clearly needed some star power if they wanted to compete for championships, as Rivers and his club have been unsuccessful in advancing past the first round of the playoffs three of the last years, including missing the postseason entirely in 2017-18. The Clippers did make some noise in the 2019 Playoffs, taking a pair of games from the Warriors before ultimately succumbing in a six-game series defeat.

LA parted with a record-number of draft picks to make the trade work with the Oklahoma City Thunder, sending a total of six future first-round draft picks and former first-rounders Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari to acquire George.

“Steve Ballmer was nervous about the picks,” Rivers said. “I said, ‘Steve, you keep saying six picks for Paul George is insane, but you’re saying it wrong. It’s not six for Paul; it’s six for Paul and Kawhi. So three for each. I would do that.’ You have to look at it in those terms.”

[RELATED: Warriors will need eight things to go right to make NBA playoffs]

After the dust settled on 2019’s topsy-turvy free agency period, the new-look Clippers stood with arguably the best superstar duo in the NBA, as Kawhi is coming off a dominant season ending with his third championship and second Finals MVP, while George was named to his first All-NBA First Team in a breakout season.

There’s no doubt Ballmer and Rivers now believe they have the best team in a wide-open NBA, but Steph Curry and Draymond Green may have something to say about that when the Warriors and Clippers face off in the first regular-season NBA game at Chase Center on Oct. 24.

Warriors' Klay Thompson gives Zaza Pachulia car as retirement gift

Warriors' Klay Thompson gives Zaza Pachulia car as retirement gift

Get you a friend like Klay Thompson.

The Warriors star shooting guard has endeared himself to Dub Nation and the NBA world alike through a number of classic moments from his scaffolding interview to heckling Christian Yelich at Wrigley Field. Thompson's budding bromance with former teammate and current Warriors consultant Zaza Pachulia also has captured the attention of most Warriors fans.

Thompson and Pachulia became good friends during the center's time in the Bay, and with Pachulia electing to hang up his sneakers to join Golden State's front office, Klay had to get him a retirement gift.

A really nice one.

Man, I need to get better friends.

[RELATED: Eight things Warriors need to go right to make playoffs]

Thompson currently is recovering from his torn ACL, but it doesn't look like it's dampened his spirits at all this offseason. Thompson has been in France, London, San Francisco and who knows where else with his girlfriend Laura Harrier.

No word yet on whether or not rookie Jordan Poole is getting that double date with Zendaya, though.