On Thursday, USA Basketball announced the list of players expected to attend in its three-day summer minicamp, set to begin Tuesday in Las Vegas. As anticipated, the 34-participant list includes a who's who of NBA stars, including eight members of the U.S. men's national team that won gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and 11 members of the 2014 FIBA World Cup-winning squad, which suggests that Team USA decision-makers Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski are going to have one heck of a time picking the final 12-man roster that will represent the red, white and blue at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
[Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]
From USA Basketball's roster release:
Added to the 2014-16 USA National Team roster and participating in the Aug. 11-13 USA National Team training camp are eight NBA standouts, including Harrison Barnes ( Golden State Warriors); Jimmy Butler (Chicago Bulls); Michael Carter-Williams (Milwaukee Bucks); Mike Conley (Memphis Grizzlies); Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors); Tobias Harris (Orlando Magic); DeAndre Jordan ( Los Angeles Clippers); and Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic).
USA National Team members confirmed for the 2015 Las Vegas minicamp include: LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs); Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks); Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards); DeMarcus Cousins (Sacramento Kings); Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors); Anthony Davis (New Orleans Pelicans); DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors); Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons); Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder); Kenneth Faried (Denver Nuggets); Rudy Gay (Sacramento Kings); Paul George (Indiana Pacers); Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers); James Harden (Houston Rockets); Gordon Hayward (Utah Jazz); Dwight Howard (Houston Rockets); Kyrie Irving ( Cleveland Cavaliers); LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers); Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs); Kevin Love (Cleveland Cavaliers); Chandler Parsons (Dallas Mavericks); Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers); Mason Plumlee (Portland Trail Blazers); Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors); John Wall (Washington Wizards); and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder).
“With this being a summer where we do not have an official competition that we need to prepare for, this year’s minicamp is an opportunity to continue and expand the brotherhood and camaraderie that has been built,” said Colangelo, who has served as managing director of the USA National Team since 2005. “It will be a celebration of all that we've accomplished with USA Basketball since the National Team program was formed in 2006 while also looking ahead to 2016. The minicamp is going to be low key with light workouts, no contact, and the USA Basketball Showcase on Aug. 13 will be a fun all-star type game."
I think we're all in agreement that we don't really care how fun this summer's showcase is, so long as everybody makes it out in one piece.
The 34-player roster represents a seven-participant cutdown from the 41-name list released last month. Gone from the final list are Dallas Mavericks point guard Deron Williams, owner of two gold medals from Team USA's wins in Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012; '12 medalists Tyson Chandler of the Phoenix Suns and Andre Iguodala of the Golden State Warriors; and the Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose, who performed poorly on last summer's World Cup side, had an up-and-down 2014-15 NBA season marked by another knee surgery, and has likely worn his national team's colors for the last time.
Others left off the final list include Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, who recently said he didn't see a reason to attend after being cut from last summer's World Cup squad; Atlanta Hawks sharpshooter Kyle Korver, still rehabilitating from his season-ending ankle surgery; his teammate, forward Paul Millsap, a late addition to the 2014 World Cup tryouts who didn't make the squad; and Boston Celtics forward David Lee.
One of the eight previously reported training-camp additions, Utah Jazz point guard Trey Burke, didn't make it to the final invitee list, seemingly replaced in the process by the Bucks' Carter-Williams. The Jazz might not mind that too much, though, considering their recent run of misfortune related to their point guards playing for their national teams. The 6-foot-11 Jordan adds yet another elite big man to a group that already features World Cup standouts Davis and Cousins, 2008 gold medal center Howard, 2014 depth bigs Drummond and Plumlee, and five power forwards — Love, Griffin, Aldridge, Faried and the also-newly-added Green — who could play up a spot in the international game.
Managing director Colangelo "has made attendance in Vegas mandatory for any player who wishes to be considered for the 2016 Olympic team," according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein, but that doesn't mean all 41 players will fully participate in the workouts.
LeBron, for example, will attend USA Basketball's Monday meeting before heading back to Akron, Ohio, for his foundation's annual charity event. Ditto for the Pacers' George, who still has his sights set on suiting up in Rio even after shattering his leg during last summer's USA Basketball Showcase. A handful of All-Star participants recovering from season-ending surgeries — Anthony, Durant, Irving, Love and Parsons — have reportedly already been excused from on-court work, as well.
“We recognize and understand that some of our players’ availability to participate is still up in the air," Colangelo said in a USA Basketball statement. "Some players are coming off of injuries and are not yet ready to actively participate, or they are getting ready for their NBA seasons. So, it’s a good thing that we don’t have a competition to get ready for this summer."
But even with no tournament this summer — the U.S. is exempt from this summer's FIBA Americas Tournament and earns an automatic bid to the 2016 Olympics by virtue of winning last summer's World Cup — there's still plenty of work to be done in chopping this 34-player pool down to the final 12 that will go to Brazil. Whittling down a wing pool that includes 12 of the 15 members of this past NBA season's All-NBA teams — a number that does not include the likes of KD, 'Melo, Love, Howard, Wall and the top two finishers in Defensive Player of the Year voting, by the way — seems like the sort of task that could justifiably take the next 11 months, even with some strong coffee and all-nighters sprinkled in.
My first pass at a 12-man roster, for example — the Brow, Love, Blake and Boogie up front; LeBron, KD, George and 'Melo on the wing; CP3, Steph, the Beard and Kyrie on the ball — left off Westbrook, Wall, Dwight and Kawhi, which makes me feel like I need to go to confession. Even if this is obviously one of those very, very, very good problems to have, I don't necessarily envy Colangelo and company as they begin the process of solving it next week.
- - - - - - -