CHICAGO -- United States coach Mike Krzyzewski says he was surprised by Kevin Durant's decision to leave the team last week because of "physical and mental fatigue."
"Yeah, I was," Krzyzewski said after Team USA's practice in Chicago on Thursday. "No question. I was."
Krzyzewski wasn't the only one surprised, but he might have been the most frustrated. Durant, the reigning NBA MVP, was expected to be the leader on and off the floor for Team USA.
"It's one of those things; you don't replace Kevin Durant," Krzyzewski said. "You look different. And so we have today and [Friday] to look different before we play a really good team. That's of concern for me because we were pretty far along. We had our best camp ever in Vegas since I've coached [Team USA]. Those guys were terrific. We had more in [game plan-wise], but we had more in to play a certain way. And then Kevin deciding not to play ... it's concerning.
"But hopefully we'll be good enough on Saturday, and then we use New York and Gran Canaria to get better and get better during pool play."
Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo echoed those sentiments.
"Kevin is a terrific guy and a terrific USA Basketball guy, and he was really despondent about not being able to play," Colangelo said. "He wanted to. But he found himself in a situation where he had no choice ... in terms of his contractual situation."
Between Paul George's gruesome leg injury at the end of Team USA's scrimmage two weeks ago and the fact that Durant has been linked to a huge multimillion dollar deal to sign with Under Armour -- Team USA is sponsored by Nike -- Colangelo could tell the Oklahoma City Thunder star had a lot on his mind.
"I was at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies this past weekend when I got the call from Kevin, and I wasn't surprised," Colangelo said. "That was predicated on his week in Vegas where I thought he was ... he had a lot of things on his mind. So for him to indicate that he was mentally and physically exhausted, it kind of came but not as a surprise."
Durant's teammates definitely were caught off guard after watching him put so much hard work in during the first part of training camp in Las Vegas.
"We were surprised for sure," Team USA guard Stephen Curry said. "Because he played well in Vegas and looked like the Kevin we knew, and obviously you can't fault a guy for making a personal decision. We all made personal decisions to be here and everybody's in a different place in their career, so you're not going to knock a guy for that."
Still, Krzyzewski knows he is going to change his entire game plan because of Durant's decision. Much of Team USA's strategy, especially on the offensive end, was based on Durant's presence.
"We had the whole team building what we were doing around him," Krzyzewski said. "In everything, because you have really one of the great scorers at the 4. So how does that change your offense? It changes your offense immensely."