Jaylen Brown was not an All-NBA selection this season.

Jaylen Brown was not an All-NBA selection this season.

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Jaylen Brown was not an All-NBA selection this season.

In the aftermath of Kawhi Leonard withdrawing from Team USA’s squad for the 2024 Paris Olympics on July 10, USA Basketball (USAB) named Celtics guard Derrick White as the replacement for the Clippers forward.

USAB’s decision was met with a lot of criticism from not just fans, but several former and current NBA players. Former eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard felt that either Jaylen Brown, the 2024 Finals MVP, or Kyrie Irving, should have replaced Leonard.

No Jaylen brown or Kyrie on team USA is crazy

Elsewhere, former two-time All-Star Gilbert Arenas argued that it “made no sense” for USAB to replace Leonard with White, a guard, when other forwards/wings such as Brown, Jimmy Butler and Paolo Banchero were available to take the spot.

“You got rid of a wing player, so you bring in a wing player,” Arenas said on the July 10 episode of his “Gil’s Arena” podcast. “You bring in a guard? You’re not gonna have a lineup of [Stephen] Curry, White and [Jrue] Holiday. So, that means it has to be Jaylen or any other small forward who can play a big two or a three.”

Enes Kanter Freedom floated a conspiracy theory that Nike, the sponsor of Team USA, purposely kept Brown out of the team due to his past criticism of the sneaker brand.

Jaylen Brown Upset with the Snub?

Brown himself sent out a few cryptic tweets that hinted at his unhappiness with USAB’s decision to leave him out of the Paris Olympics squad.

In another tweet, Brown seemingly referenced Nike playing a role in keeping him out of Team USA.

Ahead of Team USA’s exhibition game against Canada on July 10, USAB executive director Grant Hill was asked about Brown’s tweets and whether the Celtics star was considered as a replacement for Leonard.

“You get 12 spots, and you have to build a team,” Hill said, via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “And one of the hardest things is leaving people off the roster that I’m a fan of that I look forward to watching throughout the season, throughout the playoffs. Guys who’ve been Finals MVPs, guys who’ve been a part of the program, guys who’ve won gold medals, guys who I respect, admire and enjoy watching. But the responsibility that I have is to put together a team and a team that complements each other, a team that fits a team that will give us the best opportunity for success.

“And, so, whatever theories that might be out there, they’re just that. But that’s my responsibility. And it’s tough. It’s tough to have conversations, tell people that they’re not on the team. I’m trying to win and I’m trying to put together the right pieces that fit and give us a chance to win.”

Hill also shot down the conspiracy theory that Nike kept Brown out of the team.

USA Basketball’s Grant Hill on Jaylen Brown’s posts apparently suggesting Nike was behind his Olympic snub: “For a good portion of my career, I wore Fila. That was supposed to be a joke. We’re proud of our partners, obviously. … This is about putting together a team.”

White Was Always The Replacement

White was always earmarked as the replacement player for Team USA, regardless of which player withdrew from the squad. On the June 15 episode of “NBA Countdown” on ESPN, insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that White was a “prominent replacement candidate” for Leonard or any other player unable to make the trip to Paris.

As such, USAB’s last-minute call to replace Leonard with White was not out of left field.

Hill, too, reiterated those sentiments during his news conference on July 10.

“It’s bittersweet, obviously [to lose Leonard], but we’re, we’re thrilled to add Derrick White,” Hill said, via ESPN. “I’ve been a big fan of Derrick’s, obviously. He just won a championship. One of the many things that I really love about Derrick, and particularly with his team, is I don’t feel like his role changes much with our team from what he does with the Celtics. He plays alongside two incredibly great young players in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

“And this setting is hard when you come in and you’re the center of your universe, and now you have to establish a role, and it might be different than what you have to do with your team. And so to have someone who can come in and play off of guys, be complementary to some others, but then also stand out and be a dynamite defensive player, knock down shots, just impact winning.”

Team USA will begin its 2024 Paris Olympics campaign against Nikola Jokic’s Serbia on July 28. In the lead-up to the game, the Steve Kerr-coached team will face Australia, Serbia, South Sudan and Germany in four tuneup games in Abu Dhabi and London. Team USA will attempt to win its fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal in Paris.

Sai Mohan covers the NBA for Heavy.com. Based in Portugal, Sai is a seasoned sports writer with nearly two decades of publishing experience, including bylines at Yardbarker, FanSided’s Hoops Habit, International Business Times, Hindustan Times and more. More about Sai Mohan

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