Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox somehow attracted a little bit of the backlash after Team USA suffered consecutive losses to France and Serbia at the FIBA World Cup. One respected sports commentator went so far as to suggest USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo would never allow Fox to represent the United States again.
On Thursday’s episode of “The Jump” on ESPN, Rachel Nichols, Amin Elhassan and Richard Jefferson were wrapping up a discussion about USA Basketball when the conversation turned to Fox and the Kings. Fox and Kings teammate Marvin Bagley III were among the last players to withdraw before Team USA finalized its 12-man roster for the World Cup, both citing a desire to focus on the upcoming NBA season.
“I wonder what De’Aaron Fox was saving himself for,” Elhassan said.
“And Marvin Bagley,” Jefferson said. “Don’t forget Marvin.”
“I would like to hear that story,” Nichols said, “because I don’t think we have a clear picture yet of why those guys – certainly De’Aaron Fox – I don’t know why that happened. I haven’t gotten a good explanation yet.”
Jefferson then asked: “Will De’Aaron Fox ever be able to play for the USA team?”
“No, not as long as Jerry Colangelo is in charge,” Elhassan said.
Team USA went to the World Cup with only four of the 35 players initially invited to camp, including Kings small forward Harrison Barnes. The team featured just two NBA All-Stars.
Barnes scored 22 points in a 94-89 loss to Serbia on Thursday. He was outdueled by Kings teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic, who led Serbia with 28 points. The Americans will finish no better than seventh in the World Cup, their worst showing in a major tournament since NBA players were allowed to participate beginning in 1992.
Dozens of NBA stars withdrew from Team USA in the months leading up to the tournament. Fox and Bagley were not among the original invitees. Both were moved up from the Select Team after training camp began.
It was unclear why Fox was singled out on “The Jump” as a player who might be in Colangelo’s doghouse after so many more-established stars backed out, but Colangelo did express general frustration following the loss to Serbia.
“I can only say, you can’t help but notice and remember who you thought you were going to war with and who didn’t show up,” Colangelo told reporters Thursday, according to The Associated Press. “I’m a firm believer that you deal with the cards you’re dealt. All we could have done, and we did it, is get the commitments from a lot of players. So with that kind of a hand, you feel reasonably confident that you’re going to be able to put a very good representative team on the court. No one would have anticipated the pullouts that we had. … We’re going to let the dust settle, let things depress a little bit. Obviously I’m always thinking ahead, which means what’s going to take place, and it’s going to happen fast and soon, because we just have to get our act together for the Olympics.”