Team USA will be just fine without Wade

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
11:20
AM ET

Team USA will be OK without Dwyane Wade. Especially this Dwyane Wade.

The D-Wade on display for much of the playoffs, with his spring and strength compromised, can be replaced. It's obviously less than ideal for Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski to be stripped of not only of his leading scorer from the 2008 Beijing Games, but also such a confident late-game player after Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups were all previously felled by season-ending injuries. Yet surely by now you've heard what Wade revealed about his health after the Miami Heat won the NBA championship.

[+] EnlargeDwyane Wade
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesDwyane Wade's departure leaves 17 players in the mix for 12 spots on the U.S. Olympic team.

Wade acknowledged that his ailing left leg, his "explosion leg" as he calls it, wasn't right; something, in other words, that has to be surgically repaired immediately to ensure he's ready for the start of next season.

It's an injury that wouldn't have allowed him to be the same Wade in London, the player who scored a game-high 27 points -- on just 12 shots -- in the gold-medal triumph against Spain just four years ago.

Team USA training camp begins Thursday in Las Vegas with Thunder guard Russell Westbrook nudged up to "lock" status with Billups and Wade now unavailable, while Rudy Gay, James Harden and Andre Iguodala will be locked in a battle for Wade's roster spot. New Orleans' Eric Gordon might be another candidate for the opening depending on what happens with restricted free agency, but the smart money is on Iguodala (if the "equity" you always hear Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo reference is the deciding factor) or Harden (if Krzyzewski wants to replace Wade with the most dynamic backcourt replacement available to him).

There are likewise bound to be calls for young Cavs stalwart Kyrie Irving to earn some late consideration, since he will undoubtedly be such an important part of the program in years to come. But this much seems certain: Wade is bound to miss his Team USA teammates even more than they miss having him on the floor. The Americans should have sufficient firepower to win games without him, but Wade acknowledged to The Associated Press this week that it will be hard, at age 30, to stomach missing out on what likely would have been his last taste of the Olympics, as much as anything for his children.

"My sons are a little older this time," Wade said. "They'd have an opportunity to be there [and] to share in the experience."

For Wade, losing that opportunity is really the most painful part of this.

Marc Stein | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
• Senior NBA writer for ESPN.com
• Began covering the NBA in 1993-94
• Also covered soccer, tennis and the Olympics

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