Team USA is getting more vulnerable by the day.
With the Saturday announcement that Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love won't take part in the FIBA Basketball World Cup tournament in Spain, the task of securing an automatic bid for the 2016 Olympics and defending its gold medal gets a whole lot harder yet again, as LaMarcus Aldridge (Portland Trailblazers), Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers) also bowed out recently and left Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo lamenting the unwelcome challenge of reworking his shrinking roster.
Team USA's six-day training camp begins in Las Vegas on Monday, with the 18-man roster set to be shaved down to 12 players thereafter. Team USA has exhibition games in Chicago, New York and Gran Canaria, Spain, in August leading up to the FIBA opener against Finland on Aug. 30 in Bilbao, Spain. If Team USA wins the gold as it did in the FIBA tournament in 2010, it would not have to take part in the qualifying tournament scheduled for next summer.
This "broken record" problem of players pulling out, as Colangelo referred to it in an interview with USA TODAY Sports on Thursday, means there will be an unexpected opportunity for someone else who is already in the mix. While Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans) and Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets) are the only conventional power forwards remaining on the 18-man Team USA roster, coach Mike Krzyzewski has plenty of talented options if he chooses to take the unconventional route.
Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant is more than capable of stretching the floor at the four-spot, and Krzyzewski has shooters like Paul George (Indiana Pacers) and Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks) at his disposal as well. There will likely be a roster ripple effect on the rest of the frontcourt a well, with young big men like DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings) and Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons) seeing their odds of making the 12-man roster increase with every star player's exit.
Colangelo also made it clear previously that he's open to the idea of adding someone from the Team USA Select team that is competing against Team USA during the Las Vegas training camp. The forwards in that group include Mason Plumlee (Brooklyn Nets), Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors), rookie Doug McDermott (Chicago Bulls) and Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic).
As for why Love isn't playing, the Team USA press release merely indicated that it was "because of his current status." Translation: he likely decided his presence would be a distraction for Team USA, as Love has been at the center of trade talks between Minnesota and a number of suitors for months and the story about where he'll wind up grows more by the day.
Still, it's unfortunate that he saw it that way. Love was one of just four remaining players who were on the 2012 team that won the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics (the others being Davis, Durant and the Houston Rockets' James Harden). He was also just one four players left who were on the 2010 team that won gold at the FIBA World Cup in Turkey.