US men's basketball team gets time to find answers
By BRIAN MAHONEY
(AP) -- The U.S. men's basketball team has more time to solve the problems caused by its injuries.
The Americans have been granted an extension from the U.S. Olympic Committee and won't have to name their roster until July 8, pushed back from June 18. That will allow them to wait until after the NBA season has ended and after training camp has begun.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Thursday the Americans haven't determined how many players will be invited to camp in Las Vegas, with the first practice set for July 6. There are currently 18 healthy players in the roster pool.
"It's open, it's an open issue right now, but we don't have anything pushing us to determine what that is going to be in the next day, days, or week or weeks," Colangelo said. "We have time on that. So, I'm flexible. I'm fluid on that one."
He needs to be with the way things are going.
The Americans' original pool of finalists was depleted by injuries to Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, Chauncey Billups and LaMarcus Aldridge. No longer even capable of naming a full 12-man roster with six alternates, USA Basketball made two requests of the USOC.
They were allowed to add two players, long after the deadline to be included in the drug testing program. Oklahoma City's James Harden, the NBA's top sixth man, and likely No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis from NCAA champion Kentucky were added last week.
The Americans also sought and were granted the extended deadline because the lockout-delayed schedule means the NBA finals won't even be completed by then.
The U.S. brought only 12 players to camp before winning the gold medal in 2008, and hasn't made cuts after a tryout camp since turning to professionals in 1992. That could change this year, based on who is ready to play in July.
"We don't know who's going to be in the finals. And think about it, there could be the possibility of two teams that if they got to the finals, there could be four or five guys, actually maybe even as many as six from the pool," Colangelo said. "So how much we can get done realistically during camp is up in the air. So that could determine how many people we bring. We do want to make a few decisions on alternates, also, in terms of if anything happens after we select 12."
A Miami-Oklahoma City final would have LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Harden all playing up to potentially June 26, and Colangelo wants to be careful not to overwork any players just 10 days later. However, Wade has already expressed his concern, telling NBA.com - which originally reported the deadline extension - that he wants to see if he is healthy first before committing to play.
Colangelo won't speculate about anyone else raising the same fear.
"We can only move forward. Nothing's going to change our game plan," he said. "We're hoping and praying we don't have any more injuries. I think our players know deep down inside no one's going to be pushed to the brink. Those who are being extended in the playoffs, that's going to certainly dictate how much or how little they do in camp. That's the way we've always been and that's what we'll do. We'll even be more sensitive because of the extended time of the playoffs this time and around."
Updated May 10, 2012