Wizards

Bradley Beal's chances get better as James Harden drops out of Olympics

Wizards

The field for the U.S. Olympic team for the Rio Games grew even thinner after James Harden pulled out, increasing the odds of Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal to make the cut.

Chris Paul, Stephen Curry and Russell Westbrook already have backed out of the event that begins in August. Beal’s teammate John Wall had  to get surgeries on both knees after the regular season May 5 and won't be ready for the event. 

After Westbrook backed out earlier Friday, Harden released this statement Friday night (h/t ProBasketballTalk):

As a result of many difficult conversations with my family, the Rockets, and trusted advisors, I’ve notified Jerry Colangelo and Team USA that I will not be competing in the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Brazil.

This decision was a painstaking one I did not take lightly. As a member of the 2012 London Olympic Gold Medal Team, and team Captian for the 2014 FIBA Gold Medal team, it goes without saying that USA Basketball has provided me with some of the most meaningful personal and professional accomplishments of my life. I have been extremely blessed to wear the red, white, and blue and compete a the highest international level with the greatest players representing the greatest country in the world. I sincerely hope I’ll earn an opportunity to represent Team USA again in the future.

A lot of players have expressed concerns about the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness, in Brazil. Harden didn't mention any particular reason recently there has been a rash of high-profile NBA players pulling out. 

 

A few days ago, Pau Gasol suggested this was being discussed in NBA circles after he openly expressed concerns about the virus and how it could impact his decision if he doesn't play for Spain. 

Earlier in the week, CSNmidatlantic.com reported that Bradley Beal is going to stay in the player pool for a chance to get selected to the 12-man roster by Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Klay Thompson and Jimmy Butler are favorties to make the cut but  Beal was recruited heavily by Krzyzweski for Duke out of high school. Beal is a better shooter than Butler.