(USA Today) So much for the training camp competition for the final spots on the Olympic team. The United States will pick its squad without any tryouts.
The Americans have changed their plans and will select the 12 players headed to Beijing before they report to Las Vegas later this month. Originally, the team was to have potentially 16 players in camp and cut down to 12 on June 30.
“The staff really is more interested in getting down so that they can get to work in terms of preparation. We have switched our thinking,” USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo said.
“Our plan is to go ahead and announce our team sometime before we get to Las Vegas.”
This has led to the feeling that the team will not be fully prepared when they reach Beijing, but Colangelo is not worried about that.
Colangelo said the announcement are likely to come this week. The Americans are to begin workouts on the UNLV campus June 28.
There are more than 30 players in the national team programme, but Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski are down to their top 14. They will decide on the final two spots, probably at point guard and power forward, in the coming days.
With the team’s minicamp expected to last only two days, Krzyzewski told Colangelo there wasn’t enough time to make cuts, and asked to bring in just the Beijing-bound players so they could focus on the summer ahead.
“That’s basically a plan rather than a tryout of 16 or 15 or whatever the number might have been. We’ve got a pretty good handle on the 13, 14 names, and it’s more about preparation,” Colangelo said. “They want to get on with it.”
Colangelo will get to work on one decision shortly, flying to Chicago to check on Dwyane Wade, who has been working out after missing the final 21 games this season because of chronic soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. Wade likely will get a spot if he’s healthy, but Colangelo wants to get a “real read” on the Heat guard’s rehab.
While there, Colangelo also will get a look at Chris Paul, one of the players on the bubble, whom Wade has invited to work out with him. The New Orleans point guard, runner-up to Kobe Bryant in the MVP voting, might have to beat out Chauncey Billups, Deron Williams, and perhaps Wade for a spot.
There could be an opening in the frontcourt, where Amare Stoudemire might have talked himself off the team. The Phoenix Suns star said after his season ended that he needed to see how his body felt before deciding to play, and his indecision seems to have created some doubt in Colangelo’s mind.
“Amare still may or may not be under consideration,” Colangelo said. “We have decisions to make relative to Amare, and that works both ways.”
Toronto’s Chris Bosh, who played in the 2006 world championships but was injured last summer, and Utah’s Carlos Boozer are the leading candidates to claim a forward spot.
Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd and Dwight Howard were the starters last year when the Americans went undefeated in the Olympic qualifying tournament. Stoudemire, Billups, Williams, Michael Redd, Tayshaun Prince, Tyson Chandler and Mike Miller also were on the team.
The deadline to submit the Olympic roster is July 1. The Americans will return to Las Vegas in mid-July to train and play an exhibition game against Canada before departing for China. They face the host Chinese in their Beijing opener on August 10.