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Shams: Hamstring forces James Harden off Team USA

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2018 USA Basketball Men’s National Team Minicamp Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Kevin Durant will be going to Tokyo with Team USA, but James Harden has decided to stay at home to rehab his right hamstring which kept him out of four of the seven games in the Bucks series. After Game 7, Harden described his hamstring issue as a Grade 2 strain which normally takes 4-to-6 weeks of rest and rehab. He returned after 10 days.

Harden becomes the second Nets player to opt out of the Olympics. Kyrie Irving will be rehabbing a sprained ankle he suffered in the playoffs,

Shams Charania broke the news of Harden’s withdrawal Wednesday afternoon as well as Team USA’s decision to replace him with Jerami Grant...

What the Nets described as hamstring tightness forced Harden to miss 18 straight games — and 20 of 21 — during the regular season. Then, in Game 1 of the Bucks series, he went down just 43 seconds into the game, returning at less than full strength for Games 5, 6 and 7, playing all but 10 minutes in the three games.

Harden was a member of the national team that won a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, and was also a member of the team that won the FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2014. Harden was a candidate for the 2016 Olympics, but he withdrew also because of injury.

Durant will lead a group of 12 players who will begin practicing in Las Vegas on July 6, giving him less than three weeks between the end of the Nets season and the beginning of Team USA’s training camp. The team will open the USA’s defense of its Olympic gold on July 25 vs. France.

A third gold medal would tie him with Carmelo Anthony for most men’s basketball golds. Only one Net, Deron Williams in 2012, won a gold for Team USA while a member of the organization. Jeff Turner, drafted by the Nets in 1984, won a gold that summer. Jason Kidd won two golds, one each before and after his seven-year stint with the Nets.

He is just 25 points shy of former Knicks star Carmelo Anthony’s all-time Team USA Olympic scoring record. Melo will not be in Tokyo.

In addition to KD, Team USA will include. Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, Kevin Love, Bam Adebayo, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton and Grant. Gregg Popovich will once again be Team USA’s head coach.

The U.S. is the odds-on favorite to win gold but teams like Spain, Serbia and Canada will pose a threat.