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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Coach K was surprised Kevin Durant left Team USA

Kevin Durant ThunderCoach K says he was surprised Kevin Durant decided to leave Team USA last week because of physical and mental fatigue.

“Yeah I was,” Krzyzewski said after Team USA’s practice in Chicago on Thursday via ESPN Chicago. “No question. I was.”

Coach K says the team built its offense around Durant, who is the NBA’s reigning MVP and won four of the last five scoring titles.

“It’s one of those things, you don’t replace Kevin Durant,” Krzyzewski said. “You look different. And so we have today and [Friday] to look different before we play a really good team. That’s of concern for me because we were pretty far along. We had our best camp ever in Vegas since I’ve coached [Team USA]. Those guys were terrific. We had more in [game plan-wise] but we had more in to play a certain way. And then Kevin deciding not to play … it’s concerning. But hopefully we’ll be good enough on Saturday and then we use New York and Grand Canaria to get better and get better during pool play.”

Durant’s Team USA teammates were surprised by his decision to pull out late in the process. Team director Jerry Colangelo also said Durant’s decision to pull out was contractually related.

“But he found himself in a situation where he had no choice … in terms of his contractual situation,” Colangelo said.

Durant doesn’t become a free agent for two years, so I’m not sure why his contract would be an issue. Does he not want to get hurt before he finalizes an endorsement deal, perhaps with Under Armour, which is a rival sponsor to Team USA’s Nike? Or did he simply just get spooked after the Paul George injury and pull out as a result?

Probably only Durant knows the answer to that, but we do know his decision altered Team USA’s plans.

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