NBA A to Z: USA roster choices for 2014 FIBA World Cup – USA TODAY
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo isn’t ready to make any definitive conclusions about his roster for this summer’s FIBA World Cup in Spain.
“We don’t want to predetermine anything,” Colangelo told USA TODAY Sports. “Everyone has a shot here. We keep an open mind regardless.”
But there is this caveat to consider: “No matter what happens, we’ll be bigger,” Colangelo said.
The former Phoenix Suns owner and executive knows the important variable is injuries, which knocked several players out of the 2012 London Olympics, including Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
“Things happen,” Colangelo said. “You don’t know what they are and you don’t want to think about the worst scenario but you need to be flexible.”
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But when you look at who definitely will play, starting with Kevin Durant and Kevin Love, and who has expressed a strong interest in playing, the 12 rosters spots are filling up.
Keep in mind that Colangelo and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski are big believers in equity paid into the program. Commitment and previous experience go a long way with the two men who in charge of selecting the roster.
Considering that, here is an early look at how the roster could take shape: Durant, Love, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Paul George, Kyrie Irving and LaMarcus Aldridge all seem likely to make it, if they are healthy.
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That’s 11 names for a 12-man roster. The final spot probably would go to a big man, possibly DeMarcus Cousins or Andre Drummond.
Derrick Rose, who hasn’t played since tearing the medial meniscus in his right knee in November, remains a wild card. Rose told USA Basketball he would like to come to training camp July 28-31 in Las Vegas, and the Chicago Bulls — coach Tom Thibodeau is a U.S. assistant coach — would like Rose to participate if he’s ready.
“As far as we’re concerned, we want him to come if he’s capable of doing so. If that’s the case, then everyone will know where he is in terms of his status,” Colangelo said. “It’s just an unknown. He’s on our roster. If he’s prepared and equipped to go, then great. Since that’s not until the end of July, there’s plenty of time here for him.”
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Colangelo said he will be in Chicago at least twice during the next two months and may have a chance to watch Rose practice.
Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is another name to watch, especially if there is an injury or a player decides not to play.
After the four-day camp, Team USA will play an intrasquad scrimmage Aug. 1 in Las Vegas, break camp and rejoin Aug. 14 in Chicago to play Brazil on Aug. 16. The team will train in New York Aug. 17-22 and play the Dominican Republic on Aug. 20 and Puerto Rico on Aug. 22 in New York.
Team USA will leave finish training Aug. 24-26 in the Canary Islands and play Slovenia on Aug. 26.
“It’s situated really well strategically,” Colangelo said of the pre-World Cup schedule. “The Las Vegas piece has always been a great way to bring players back. They’re accustomed to going there for our training camp and they know what the process is because they’ve already been part of our system by being with the select team or Olympic team or World Championship team.
“Chicago and New York offer an opportunity in two major markets — great basketball markets, great tradition. We have a great following there for our brand. We think the Latino marketplace is extremely viable. There’s a large Latino population in Chicago and New York and therefore teams that were available and fit the mold – Brazil, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic — and that’s why they were scheduled.
“It puts us in a good position to open our defense of the world championship, now called the World Cup.”
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The World Cup is Aug. 30-Sept. 14, and the U.S. is in Group C with Dominican Republic, Finland, New Zealand, Turkey and Ukraine. Those games will be played in Bilbao.
• Training camp in Chicago will be special for Colangelo and Krzyzewski, both of whom grew in or close to Chicago.
“That’s an added plus,” Colangelo said.
But Colangelo wants it to be more than just a superficial homecoming. He said USA Basketball plans to launch initiatives to help the city in some capacity.
“The city has been under siege in terms of economy, in terms of crime, in terms of a lot of things,” he said. “It’s important to try and raise the spirits in Chicago. We want to launch some things with USA Basketball and development. We want to use Chicago as a platform — this is all in the early stages of planning — and we’re talking about clinics and doing some things of consequence to help the city.”
• Colangelo, 74, had a stent procedure on his heart in late February and said he is doing great now. He was feeling tired and was short of breath and his wife, Joan, told him to see a doctor.
“I’m feeling 100%,” He said. “Medical technology and medical science is amazing. You can have a procedure for 45 minutes and rest for four hours and go home and 24 hours later feel like a new man. I’m fine. I didn’t skip a beat.”
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HEAT PLAN: Wade could sit until playoffs
The Miami Heat are content to sit Dwayne Wade the remainder of the season and give his bothersome left hamstring more time to heal.
Wade missed Friday’s game against the Indiana Pacers, the ninth consecutive game in which he has not played and the 28th game he has missed this season.
“He is feeling better,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
But Spoelstra doesn’t want to take chances with the playoffs about to start.
“Look around the league with hamstring injuries,” Spoelstra said. “These are things in which you have to give great attention to detail, a great commitment to get it back to full strength and full conditioning, full everything.
“There’s no way to guarantee anything. You just don’t want what’s happened to several players around the league. You come back, feel great, then there’s a setback. How long does that take? If that means we take more time, we take more time.”
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Headed into the Pacers game, Miami is 5-3 in the past eight games without Wade. This season, the Heat are 36-15 with Wade in the lineup and 17-10 without him.
“We’ve been struggling without him. That’s not a secret,” Heat big man Chris Bosh said.
Even when Wade returns, the Heat will have to re-establish an offensive rhythm.
“It’s going to be a process when he gets back,” Spoelstra said.
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In making the case for San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich as coach of the year, there was one topic that didn’t get touched on: his personality.
It’s a misconception that he’s surly in interviews all the time. Most of the time, that’s a bit, and he plays it well. Sure, there are times when he’s curt, but it’s clear he doesn’t suffer foolish questions without penalty. But when the question is in his wheelhouse, he crushes it, with candor, insight and sometimes humor.
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He can also be engaging on non-basketball subjects. He’ll walk into a bookstore in Portland looking for David Foster Wallace books or point you to a good restaurant.
One night after a game a few seasons ago, Popovich grabbed food in the family lounge and was asked about which book he was reading. He smiled and said he was reading books about Christianity and atheism at the same time, alternating books each day. Said it was driving him crazy.
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BOSTON BENCH: Stevens likes Bayless as sixth man
Listen to Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens closely enough, and you will hear some interesting things. The other day, a news reporter asked him how different it would for Jerryd Bayless to start rather than come off the bench against the Washington Wizards.
“The difference between starting and coming off the bench — I know it’s a big deal to some people — but it’s really not a big deal. Either you’re ready to play or you’re not,” Stevens said.
Stevens always relayed this about Bayless.
“I’m been very pleased with his growth,” Stevens said. “Jerryd’s the kind of guy who last night he finds a gym to shoot in and takes guys with him. That’s not all that common. That’s a real positive. That’s a guy who wants to be ready for his time regardless if he’s starting.”
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TNT NBA analyst Charles Barkley said recently, “If the playoffs started today, the team that wins the (likely second-round) series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and (Los Angeles) Clippers is going to represent the Western Conference in the playoffs.”
He doesn’t like the Spurs’ chances of returning to the Finals.
“I don’t think those old guys will be able to hold on,” he said. “Tony Parker is the only one that is still in his prime. I think that age is going to take its toll on them.”
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