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Chris Paul Withdraws from Team USA, Opens Door For Damian Lillard

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Team USA mainstay point guard Chris Paul announces his withdrawal from Team USA, potentially giving Damian Lillard a greater chance to make the 2016 Olympic Team.

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

L.A. Clippers guard Chris Paul announced via SI.com's Lee Jenkins that he is withdrawing his name from consideration for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, potentially opening an opportunity for Portland's Damian Lillard.

After more than a decade of contribution to USA Basketball, Paul told SI.com on Monday that he is withdrawing from consideration for this summer's Olympic team, likely ending his international career. "I feel my body telling me that I could use the time," he said.

Paul has been a mainstay on the U.S. National Team for years, winning gold medals with Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games. His apparent "retirement" from USA Basketball opens the door for another of the NBA's premier point guards to take over.

"Of course, you'll have Steph (Curry) and those guys," Paul said. "Someone else I think would be great is Kyle Lowry. I love watching him play. You need that grit." Oddly, Lowry is not on the list of 30 finalists, but Curry, Westbrook, Mike Conley, John Wall, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard are. The NBA has no shortage of premier point guards ready to take the torch.

Lillard was part of USA Basketball camps in 2013 and 2014 before severing ties with Team USA when he was cut prior to the 2014 FIBA World Cup. He rejoined the fold in February of 2016, when he was named a finalist for the 2016 Olympic Team after reaching out to Jerry Colangelo, Managing Director of USA Basketball.

Here is what Colangelo had to say about Lillard at the time.

"I recently received a call from Damian, and during our conversation he expressed his desire to be considered for the U.S. Olympic Team and to remain involved with the USA National Team in the future as well," said Jerry Colangelo, managing director of the USA Men's National Team, via press release. "Both Mike (Krzyzewski) and I feel like Damian is playing at a very high level and that he should be added to our list of Olympic finalists. Damian has been a member of the USA National Team since 2014, and he participated in National Team training camps in 2013 and 2014, so he does have equity in USA Basketball, which is always important to me.

Read all of Jenkins' piece regarding Paul's announcement, here.