In a surprising move, Sacramento Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox has withdrawn from Team USA, managing director Jerry Colangelo told ESPN on Saturday.
The decision comes just hours before the group was scheduled to fly to Australia for exhibition games leading up to the FIBA World Cup in China.
Fox played a team-low six minutes in Friday night’s exhibition victory over Spain in Anaheim, California. He was a strong candidate to make the roster because he’d played so well over the last two weeks in practices and scrimmages.
“He makes fast people look not fast,” Marcus Smart said of Fox’s ability earlier this week.
Fox had been moved up from the Select Team during training camp and appeared to have solidified his role as a backup to starter Kemba Walker.
During USA Basketball’s 97-78 exhibition win over the select team on Aug. 6, Fox scored 12 points and had 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in 15 minutes. He also made 6-of-9 shots, but Fox said Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich got on him for passing up shots.
His decision will likely mean Derrick White, who plays for Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs, will make the final roster as the team is now carrying just 13 players as it goes overseas.
Fox’s departure come one day after Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker left Team USA, citing a minor left ankle issue.
ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk contributed to this report.
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