U.S. will have new team for Worlds
Team USA will enter this summer’s World Championships without a single player from the 2008 Olympic roster, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo told Yahoo! Sports.
Colangelo said that over the past 10 days every member of the U.S. Olympic team has declined an invitation to play this summer in Turkey, including Kobe Bryant(notes), who played through a number of injuries during the Los Angeles Lakers’ run to the 2010 NBA championship, and LeBron James(notes), Dwyane Wade(notes) and Chris Bosh(notes), who just signed with the Miami Heat. The last declined invitation came Saturday night when Utah Jazz guard Deron Williams(notes) called Colangelo.
USA Basketball is expected to add Rajon Rondo(notes) and center Robin Lopez(notes) to the World Championships roster. The team also has commitments from Kevin Durant(notes), Amar’e Stoudemire(notes) and Derrick Rose(notes).
“The best thing that can happen is we get the job done with this group,” Colangelo told Yahoo! Sports. “It will make it interesting going forward. It will be a new look, new challenge, new young guys making a point.”
Colangelo said many of the players cited their free agency this summer as a reason for not playing. James, Bosh and Carlos Boozer(notes) each switched teams. Carmelo Anthony(notes) just got married and is expected to sign a contract extension with the Denver Nuggets. Wade recently resolved a handful of legal issues, including his divorce. Chris Paul(notes) is returning from a knee injury while Williams declined because of a family matter, Colangelo said.
Colangelo had previously said anyone declining an invitation without a legitimate reason would be at risk to be excluded from the 2012 Olympics in London. He said Sunday none of these players will be penalized.
“There are no issues here with anyone,” Colangelo said. “Everyone has to take care of their business, families and to get healthy. All our [Olympic] guys were touched by all of that.”
In addition to Durant, Stoudemire and Rose, Colangelo has received commitments from veterans Chauncey Billups(notes) and Lamar Odom(notes) and last season’s Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans(notes). Rudy Gay(notes) and David Lee(notes) also will compete for roster spots.
Competition for the World Championships roster, Colangelo said, is “wide open.” The 12-man roster must be set by Aug. 26, and Colangelo said he and coach Mike Krzyzewski might need much of the next six weeks to determine who makes it. The selection process begins with a minicamp in Las Vegas next week.
“We’re excited about all the young guys coming in,” Colangelo said. “There is something positive here and our group of guys are hungry.”
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry(notes), who is in the pool of players who will participate in the minicamp, figured he would have a tough time making the roster if many of the 2008 Olympic players returned.
“When I first got the invite I was excited about it and I talked to Coach K and it sounded like he had his team set,” Curry said.
“But that’s before everybody started backing out with contract issues and other stuff. Right now I’m very excited about the opportunity to go out, play well and get some experience. I’m going there with the expectation to play well and definitely make the team.”
Colangelo said “all the stars were aligned” when James and Bosh joined Wade in signing with the Heat last week. After seeing them play in several USA Basketball games and practices, he believes they will team well together. He was surprised the Heat were able to clear enough salary-cap room to get all players.
“I thought two of them would play together, but I didn’t think getting three together would work out,” Colangelo said. “But obviously, people were able to figure it out.
“They can play together, for sure. They’ve showed that with USA Basketball. I don’t think that’s an issue.”