While much of the blame for the United States failing to capture a third straight FIBA World Cup this month has fallen on the NBA stars who didn't show up for the tournament, Jerry Colangelo says the U.S. still would've won if not for key injuries to Jayson Tatum and Kyle Kuzma.
"I believe that if we didn't have those injuries, we would have won," USA Basketball's managing director told SI's Chris Mannix. "The injuries were just too much to absorb."
Tatum injured his ankle in Team USA's group stage game against Turkey and didn't suit up in the World Cup again. Kuzma, one of the roster's few frontcourt shooters, suffered an ankle injury before the tournament began. Toronto Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry also pulled out in August due to a thumb injury.
The Americans were eliminated by France in the quarterfinals and finished seventh, the worst placement for the country in its international basketball tournament history.
Colangelo, who's overseen USA Basketball's senior men's program since 2005, again expressed his discouragement over the NBA players who had originally committed to playing this summer but later reneged.
"The disappointment I feel is not from the guys who said they wouldn't play," Colangelo said. "It's those that said they would, and then backed out."
Among the names on that list are James Harden, Anthony Davis, and Damian Lillard. Immediately following the USA's elimination, Colangelo said he would keep the absences in mind when putting together next summer's Olympic team. He's moderated that tone somewhat since.
"We'll deal with those cases individually," Colangelo said. "It's important to field as strong a team as possible."