Report: Celtics’ Kemba Walker, Bucks’ Khris Middleton, Rockets’ PJ Tucker intend to stick with Team USA this summer
A string of recent defections from preparations for the upcoming FIBA World Cup began to put Team USA’s status as prohibitive favorites in doubt. According to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, though, at least two All-Stars, the Boston Celtics’ Kemba Walker and Milwaukee Bucks’ Khris Middleton, are committed to playing for the national team over the next two months.
Amid a flurry of roster withdrawals, at least two NBA All-Stars — Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton — intend to stick with Team USA this summer for the @FIBAWC in China from Aug. 31-Sept. 15, league sources say
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) July 22, 2019
Walker signed a four-year, $141 million deal with the Boston Celtics in free agency earlier this month. He enjoyed a career campaign with the Charlotte Hornets in 2018-19, averaging 25.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game, making All-NBA for the first time in his career.
Middleton re-upped with the Bucks on a five-year, $178 million at the outset of free agency. He averaged 18.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game, earning his first All-Star berth, but struggled to duplicate his stellar performance from previous postseasons in the playoffs.
Walker and Middleton aren’t the only players fully committed to Team USA. According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Houston Rockets forward P.J. Tucker is also intent on playing for the national team.
One of the most versatile defenders in all of basketball, appreciation for Tucker’s game reached a zenith over the past two seasons as he helped the Rockets establish themselves as the biggest threat to the Golden State Warriors’ supremacy in the Western Conference. He averaged 7.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season, shooting 37.7 percent on a career-high 4.7 three-point attempts.
The Rockets’ James Harden and Eric Gordon, Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis, Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal, and New Orleans Pelicans’ Zion Williamson have all withdrawn from participation with Team USA in recent days. Training camp opens the first week of August in Las Vegas. The World Cup tips off in China on August 31.