“We were in conversation with the Clippers” – Grant Hill’s latest comments suggest NBA team’s role in Kawhi Leonard’s withdrawal

Grant Hill

Grant Hill’s latest comments suggest NBA team’s role in Kawhi Leonard’s withdrawal. (Photo: IMAGN)

Team USA managing director Grant Hill opened up about Kawhi Leonard’s decision to withdraw from the team. Hill revealed the role the LA Clippers played in Leonard’s tricky situation and how USA Basketball made the ultimate decision in the end.

In an interview with reporters on Wednesday, Hill was asked about the departure of Leonard, who was replaced by Boston Celtics guard Derrick White. Leonard had problems with his knee before training camp and it was a real concern for Team USA.

“We just felt that we had to pivot, and not to get into the particulars, in terms of what went into the decision, but we just felt it was in our best interest, but also in the Clippers’ and Kawhi’s best interest, to move into a different direction. We tried. I think we all tried and we gave it a valiant effort, and unfortunately, we have to move forward. … We did. Ultimately he was sent home, but we were in conversation with the Clippers on that,” Hill said. [H/T ESPN]

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Kawhi Leonard missed the LA Clippers’ final three postseason games against the Dallas Mavericks after some swelling on his knee. It was the third straight playoffs wherein he suffered an injury. He also missed the entire 2021-22 season after suffering a knee injury in the 2021 postseason.

Leonard admitted that he did not return to the court until two weeks before training camp. There were concerns about his knee heading into Las Vegas, especially when he was seen with a limp. He played through the scrimmages but Team USA staff probably saw something wasn’t right with the two-time NBA champion.

“I think he wanted to be here, like all these guys want to be here, and we don’t take that lightly at all. It speaks to the program and the opportunity, and so, personally speaking, I know what it’s like to want to do something and your body’s just not right. And I’ve lived that personally. And so I applaud him for coming here and being willing to sacrifice, give up his summer and represent our country and play for our program,” Hill said. [H/T ESPN]

Kawhi Leonard replaced by Derrick White on Team USA

Kawhi Leonard was replaced by Derrick White on Team USA. (Photo: IMAGN)

Kawhi Leonard was replaced by Derrick White on Team USA. (Photo: IMAGN)

Following Kawhi Leonard’s withdrawal from Team USA, the governing body quickly sprang into action and replaced him with Derrick White. The two stars played together briefly with the San Antonio Spurs during White’s rookie campaign, wherein Leonard played just nine games, which was his final season there.

White is coming off the best year of his career, winning an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics. Some fans were surprised that Team USA went with White over Jaylen Brown, who was named NBA Finals MVP.

However, it was about the right fit and Team USA felt that White was a better fit than Brown. The only problem with the Celtics star is there are too many guards on the roster and most of the teams at the Olympics have size.

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