US men's basketball roster deadline now July 7
By BRIAN MAHONEY
(AP) -- USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo considers about 10 men's Olympic team spots set "on paper," with the rest to be determined over two days of practice before the squad is announced July 7.
The Americans requested and were granted an extension to the deadline to select the roster by the U.S. Olympic Committee after four candidates were knocked out by injuries. The team was originally to be picked by June 18 before the end of the NBA season.
Instead, the Americans will hold their first practice July 6 in Las Vegas with a to-be-determined number of players. They'll gather their final 12 at a team meeting the next night. There are 18 healthy players in the roster pool.
"What we think is that barring any other further major injury, we have a pretty good handle on what we think the roster might look like, and it may get down to a final selection or two," Colangelo said Monday by phone from Dallas, where he announced the revised plans during a news conference at the U.S. Olympic Committee media summit.
That could give college player of the year Anthony Davis of Kentucky a chance to prove he belongs with the NBA's best headed to London, or perhaps Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala to show there's room for a defensive specialist amid a group of superstar scorers.
LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Kevin Durant, Tyson Chandler, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love and Dwyane Wade appear to be the locks - though Wade recently said he wanted to see how his health was after Miami's expected lengthy playoff run.
The Americans expected to have all those decisions made long before they gathered for the summer. They had planned to announce their 12 by June 1, but injuries wrecked those plans and could remain the biggest obstacle to another gold medal.
Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Chauncey Billups and LaMarcus Aldridge were all knocked out, forcing USA Basketball to ask the USOC for the extension and permission to add to their pool of finalists. Those had been chosen in January so they could be entered into the drug testing program.
With the NBA playoffs possibly running until June 26 and 10 finalists still playing, Colangelo wanted time to see who would be ready when the team reported for what was supposed to be its first practice as the Olympic team. Now it's turned into somewhat of a tryout camp.
"It's not a tryout," Colangelo insisted. "It's more of a taking inventory as to where each individual is as far as an injury standpoint or health standpoint. ... We know exactly where we want to be, but we need to take inventory of what status our players have."
Colangelo was en route to Dallas on Sunday when another U.S. player went down. Chris Bosh left Miami's playoff victory over Indiana and is out indefinitely with a strained abdominal muscle. Colangelo said the Americans would follow up about Bosh's status later.
They will also have to deal with free agency in the early days of practice. Williams will become a free agent July 1 and can commit to joining a team but can't officially sign a new deal until July 11.
"I think Deron's plan, from what we understand, he intends to sign at the very first moment he can officially, in terms of when the clock ticks 12," Colangelo said. "So he'll practice, but he'll stay away from contact work. So that's one of those variables you have to deal with, and we said we would."
Coach Mike Krzyzewski also said he'll be conscious of the fact some players will have just finished the NBA finals.
"How we conduct practice that first week is important because we could have as many as five guys participating in the finals," he said. "The key for us in the first weeks is to make sure we get them fresh mentally, emotionally and physically. We don't overpractice, we don't (get) overphysical, and all those guys know that."
Colangelo said he isn't stressed about the injuries, because he's "never been a panic kind of guy, honestly." In fact, he thinks they will make the Americans even more focused on their title defense.
"A year ago, a year and a half ago in discussions, I (said) I think the biggest enemy we might have would be ourselves. We have to be ready mentally. We were ready the last quad because we were on a mission to get back the gold. So there was some concern, some people had said, `Well, maybe they'll be a little complacent.' I never thought so," he said. "Well, with all the events that have taken place, if anything it's emboldened me. It's like being upset about the cards being dealt, but it's certainly going to keep everyone on their toes."
Updated May 14, 2012