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James Harden decides to pass on FIBA World Cup to focus on Rockets

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All-Star James Harden wants to focus on the Rockets late this summer and fall, specifically on adapting to playing with new teammates such as Russell Westbrook.

According to a report by Jonathan Feigen in The Houston Chronicle on Friday, Harden has informed Team USA coach Gregg Popovich that he is withdrawing from the team that will represent the U.S. in the FIBA World Cup in China.

Speaking at an event on Friday to donate shoes and other sporting goods to children from the Greater Houston Police Activities League, Harden said he wanted to spend the remainder of the offseason to focus on preparing for the retooled Rockets.

Rockets teammates P.J. Tucker and Eric Gordon are both scheduled to participate in practices in Las Vegas Aug. 5 to 9. Harden has previously played for the 2012 USA Basketball Olympic team and 2014 World Cup team.

Harden joins Anthony Davis as the second top player to withdraw from Team USA in the past week.

Team USA still has All-Star guards Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker and Bradley Beal among those who remain committed.

The FIBA World Cup is scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 15 in China, and doesn’t leave much lead time for players to start NBA training camps.

 

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Report: Pau Gasol to join Trail Blazers

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Free agent center Pau Gasol has agreed to a one-year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gasol, 39, who was limited to just 30 games last season because of a variety of injuries, has career averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds over 17 NBA seasons.



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Report: Furkan Korkmaz returning to 76ers

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Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Free agent forward Furkan Korkmaz has agreed to a two-year contract to return to the Philadelphia 76ers, agent Mike Lindeman of Excel Sports tells ESPN.

Korkmaz, 21, brings back a rotational forward with the ability to spread the floor with his shooting. The loss of JJ Redick in free agency – and Kyle Korver’s decision to choose Milwaukee over Philadelphia – brought some increased urgency to keep Korkmaz on the Sixers roster.

 The 21-year-old Korkmaz, who was the 26th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, averaged 5.8 points and 2.2 rebounds in 14.1 minutes last season.

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Report: Kevin Love to withdraw from World Cup

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Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is the latest player expected to withdraw from Team USA’s training camp for the FIBA World Cup, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

This news comes just one day after Damian Lillard reportedly withdrew from the World Cup. Love, who played in just 22 games last season because of a shoulder injury, averaged 17.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in 2018-19.

During the previous two weeks, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Zion Williamson and CJ McCollum reportedly decided not to compete in the World Cup this year.

Although the guard ranks will be somewhat depleted of NBA stars, Team USA continues to have a deep pool of players available.



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