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Kawhi Leonard is off the U.S. Olympic team and won't play in Paris Games

Dallas Mavericks' P.J. Washington plays against Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard, right, in Dallas on April 26, 2024. (Tony Gutierrez / AP Photo) Dallas Mavericks' P.J. Washington plays against Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard, right, in Dallas on April 26, 2024. (Tony Gutierrez / AP Photo)
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Las Vegas -

Kawhi Leonard will not be part of the U.S. men's basketball team that will compete in the Paris Games after all.

It would have been the first Olympic trip for Leonard, who missed 12 of the Los Angeles Clippers’ final 14 games this past season with right knee inflammation. USA Basketball said it, along with the Clippers, made the decision on Leonard's status.

“Kawhi has been ramping up for the Olympics over the past several weeks and had a few strong practices in Las Vegas,” USA Basketball said in a statement Wednesday. “He felt ready to compete. However, he respects that USA Basketball and the Clippers determined it's in his best interest to spend the remainder of the summer preparing for the upcoming season rather than participating in the Olympic Games in Paris.”

USA Basketball will be permitted to replace Leonard on the 12-man roster and was working toward bringing in Boston Celtics guard Derrick White to take his place, a person with knowledge of those discussions told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the Press on condition of anonymity because USA Basketball did not reveal that publicly.

Leonard said earlier this week that his knee was fine and that he was able to resume on-court training about three weeks ago to get ready for the Olympics.

“I’m ready to go,” Leonard said then. “I’m playing now so I’m happy.”

A couple of days later, hours before the first U.S. exhibition game against Canada and one day before the team departs for Abu Dhabi — the first of two international stops for more games and practices before arriving in France for the Olympics — Leonard was gone.

That leaves the U.S., at least for the very short term, with 10 available players. Kevin Durant will not play against Canada because of a calf strain and could not compete in the team's four-day training camp in Las Vegas that ended Tuesday.

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