Shams Charania from The Vertical reported on Twitter that Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has dropped out of consideration for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. After recently completing his world tour to promote his shoe line, Lillard plans to rest and rehab his Plantar Fasciitis injury, preparing for the 2016-17 season.
Once considered a long-shot to make the US team, Lillard's Olympic chances rose dramatically in recent months as late-season injuries, possibly combined with the reported health concerns of visiting Brazil this summer, led to several other star players started dropping out. Since May, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry, Lebron James, and James Harden have all exited consideration. This placed Lillard in a prime spot to make the team. However, in a recent interview, he said he hadn't thought about Team USA, and was ambiguous about his plans.
Lillard's history with Team USA became contentious after his experiences with the 2014 Training Camp. After being passed over for players such as Derrick Rose and Kyrie Irving, he publicly hinted that he felt he wasn't given a fair chance to make the team.
"Any time I go into a situation I want to have a real opportunity," he said. "If I'm going to invest myself in something, I want to have a real opportunity in that. Last time I did that, I felt the decision was already made before the decision was made. Whether I played good or bad, I felt like it didn't matter."
In the summer of 2015, he explicitly refused to participate in the Team USA mini-camp. But in February, he reconsidered his position on Team USA and publicly endorsed them after they exchanged calls. Sam Amick reported this morning that Lillard again wasn't thrilled how Team USA worked with him:
There's some frustration on the Damian Lillard side that Team USA folks pushed him for an answer now while giving other players more time.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) June 23, 2016
Not everyone is dropping out of consideration: Toronto's Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, as well as New York's Carmelo Anthony have all committed to joining the team, report Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania of Yahoo's The Vertical. Kevin Durant has also publicly stated his intent to attend.
Lillard's exit might affect another Blazer: CJ McCollum accepted an invitation to the Team USA Select Team, participating in mini-camp and scrimmages. Players invited to the Select Team are normally not considered for the national roster. However, if guards continue to drop out, it's possible he'll buck the odds and get the chance to represent his country.