Kyle Lowry of the NBA champion Toronto Raptors has withdrawn from the pool of candidates USA Basketball is considering to take to the FIBA World Cup later this month.
Lowry said his surgically repaired thumb isn’t ready to allow him to participate in on-court workouts. He had surgery last month to repair a torn tendon that dogged him during the NBA playoffs, and was hopeful of being on the floor as early as Tuesday when the Americans resume practice in El Segundo, California.
But after meeting with his surgeon on Monday, Lowry apparently realized he wasn’t going to be able to play.
“I was hoping to be available in time to help my country in their quest for gold in this upcoming tournament,” Lowry wrote on Instagram. “I love playing for USAB but I have to sit this one out and support the team from home.”
Lowry’s decision means 15 players are still in the running for 12 spots — and one of those 15, Boston guard Marcus Smart, missed much of last week’s camp in Las Vegas with a calf injury. It is possible that USA Basketball could add to the player pool before making any final decisions on the World Cup roster, though the Americans were also prepared if Lowry was not cleared to play.
“We have guys who can play different positions, guys with character, versatility and athleticism,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said last week in Las Vegas, when the Americans started paring down the roster. “And we think it’s a hungry group.”
Lowry has about six weeks now to get ready for Raptors camp. He said he expects the Americans to win the World Cup for an unprecedented third consecutive time.
“At the end of the day I believe the men that are playing will be great and will win the gold for our country,” Lowry wrote.
The U.S. will take 12 players to China. The 15 remaining candidates are:
Guards — De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento; Joe Harris, Brooklyn; Donovan Mitchell, Utah; Marcus Smart, Boston; Kemba Walker, Boston; Derrick White, San Antonio.
Forwards — Harrison Barnes, Sacramento; Jaylen Brown, Boston; Kyle Kuzma, L.A. Lakers; Khris Middleton, Milwaukee; Jayson Tatum, Boston; P.J. Tucker, Houston.
Centers — Brook Lopez, Milwaukee; Mason Plumlee, Denver; Myles Turner, Indiana.
The U.S. will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Lakers’ training facility. The Americans face Spain in an exhibition game on Friday in Anaheim, California, and leave for more training and exhibitions in Australia on Saturday.