(Reuters) - Dynamic guard Russell Westbrook, citing rest as his top priority, has declared himself unavailable for the United States basketball team at this year’s World Cup in Spain.
Westbrook, 25, who won gold medals on the U.S. team at the 2010 World Championship and 2012 Olympics Games, missed almost half of last season with the National Basketball Association’s Oklahoma City Thunder because of knee injuries.
“I have received confirmation from Russell that he will not be participating in this summer’s USA Basketball Men’s National Team training and the World Cup due to his need to rest,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in a statement Tuesday.
“We’ve been communicating with Russell since the Thunder’s season ended and we’ve known this was a possibility.
“As much as we would love to have him this summer and as much as he’d like to play for the United States this summer, this is the right decision.”
Westbrook, who has long been favored by U.S. national coach Mike Krzyzewski, has opted out of a July training camp, an August exhibition tour and the Aug. 30-Sept. 14 World Cup.
In his absence, Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors is expected to vie for his spot with Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“The process we’re going through, to finalize this summer’s roster, is no different than other summers,” said Colangelo.
“As I’ve said previously, our roster is fluid and based on the circumstances of our players you will see the addition of players as they emerge and as they are needed.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Frank Pingue