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May 25, 2017

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No Love for US to defend world crown

LAS VEGAS -- Minnesota Timberwolves star forward Kevin Love, being sought in trade deals by several NBA clubs, will not play for the United States in this year's Basketball World Cup.

USA Basketball announced Saturday in a statement that Love, a member of the 2012 London Olympic gold-medal U.S. team, will not participate in the world squad's training camp that opens Monday in Las Vegas "because of his current status."

That status is very uncertain of where he will play next season and not playing for the Americans reduces the chances of an injury that might scuttle a potential deal for the Timberwolves, who finished 40-42 last season and missed the NBA playoffs despite Love averaging 26.1 points, 12.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists a game.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, fresh off landing four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James and signing guard Kyrie Irving to a long-term deal, want to make a deal for Love to provide a new "Big Three" for James as he tries to bring the Cavaliers their first NBA title and Cleveland its first major sports champion in half a century.

But it might be weeks before a deal is completed, especially considering 2014 top NBA draft pick Andrew Wiggins' new deal with Cleveland precludes him being traded for another month and he would almost certainly be part of any package pitched to Minnesota in a deal for Love.

For the Americans, losing a star big man is a huge deal as the five-day camp will start the roster trimming process ahead of the FIBA World Cup, a 24-team event from Aug. 30 to Sept. 14 in Spain.

Among the U.S. team hopefuls, only centers Andre Drummond of Detroit and DeMarcus Cousins of Sacramento can match Love's size.

"The fact is we can only look to the players we have available. Our job is to get the job done with our very, very deep roster, and we're anxious to get things started," said USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo.

Others up for the U.S. world squad include NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, Houston guard James Harden and New Orleans playmaker Anthony Davis — all teammates of Love on the U.S. 2012 London Olympic winning squad.

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