Team USA has lost its marquee player for this year's FIBA World Cup, with James Harden saying Friday he has withdrawn from the team.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Harden said he has already informed U.S. coach Gregg Popovich about his decision, which will free up much of the former NBA MVP's August and early September and allow him to focus on getting to know his new Rockets teammates.
Harden's withdrawal comes shortly after Anthony Davis did the same, leaving Popovich without most of the elite American-born NBA players for the tournament. The likes of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving already declined an opportunity to participate for a variety of reasons.
The star power among the remaining 18 players scheduled to attend training camp in Las Vegas next month rests mostly in the backcourt, led by Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker and Bradley Beal.
Another standout guard, Kyle Lowry, recently had surgery to repair a tendon injury in his left thumb but is hoping to recover in time to play in the World Cup, ESPN reported Thursday.
With Harden and Davis out, Lowry, Kevin Love, Andre Drummond, Eric Gordon and Harrison Barnes are the only players remaining on the initial U.S. roster with World Cup or Olympics experience.
The U.S. team will have training camp in Las Vegas Aug. 5-9, concluding with an intrasquad scrimmage on the final day. The team will relocate to Los Angeles for more practice Aug. 13-15 before playing Spain Aug. 16, and the 12-man World Cup roster will be announced the following day.
After a series of practices and exhibitions in Australia in late August, the U.S. will open group play in Shanghai on Sept. 1 against the Czech Republic.