David Lee Out of World Championship
Lee will wear a splint for six weeks with what is termed a mallet finger, but he won't need surgery. But playing with the injury would be too much of a risk for Lee to continue with USA Basketball in preparation for the Aug. 28-Sept. 12 World Championship in Turkey.
"We're very disappointed as much for him as for us,'' USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said of Lee, who flew to California to be examined Wednesday morning by Warriors Dr. Bill Green. "He wanted to play right now. He wanted to come back right now but there's no way we would allow him to do that because he's not going to have surgery. And the splint will take care of it. But he has to be in a splint for about six weeks. Because, if he did play and he hit that finger again, that would be surgery. So we're not going to do that.''
A mallet finger is a deformity of the finger caused when a tendon is damaged. Lee joined the Warriors earlier this month in a sign-and-trade from New York, getting a six-year, $80 million deal.
Team USA now has lost five big men in the past week. Last week, LaMarcus Aldridge and Al Jefferson elected to pull out of this week's camp in Las Vegas. Tuesday, Amar'e Stoudemire was ruled out due to insurance reasons and Robin Lopez to rehabilitate a back injury.
"It makes us a little more perimeter-oriented,'' said Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski, whose team is down to 19 players in training camp, with Kevin Love, Lamar Odom, Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez, Jeff Green and JaVale McGee as the only post players. "At times you might see three guards out there.''
Krzyzewski feels sorry for Lee.
"I feel badly for him because he really wanted to play,'' Krzyzewski said. "He even said, 'Coach, I'll see the doctor. I'll even pay the expenses of a private plane to get me down here.' I felt bad for him. Last summer, he was going through contract (negotiations while with New York) and he couldn't play then. ... He'll be fine for the NBA season, even for (the start of training camp).''
Golden State general manager Larry Riley concurred with Krzyzewski, saying he Lee actually could be ready "a month before'' the start of training camp. He expressed relief the injury is to the non-shooting hand of the left-handed Lee.
"We're disappointed for David because I know how badly he wanted to play in (the World Championship),'' Riley said. "It looked like he had a great chance to make the team and make a contribution. I know he's destroyed. But in talking with him and talking with the doctors, we're relieved this isn't going to be a long-range thing. That's really important to us. The decision comes down to the doctor saying he really shouldn't play, and we're not going to take any chances.''
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson