Sunday, July 25, 2010
Team USA to cut 4 players by Monday
By Chris Sheridan
LAS VEGAS -- Team USA will cut four players by Monday, and I am going to give you my best educated guess as to who those four players will be.
A couple are easy to predict, a couple are not. So I'll give you a list of six, with my top cut choices are listed one through four.
Tyreke Evans: Missed final two days of practice and Saturday night's public scrimmage with a sore ankle, making for an easy decision as to which of Team USA's many talented point guards can be trimmed from the mix.
Danny Granger: Was good, not great, among a field of wing players in which someone needed to standout. The player who did that was Andre Iguodala.
Gerald Wallace: If anyone Saturday night played himself off the 15-man roster for training camp in New York, it was him. No rebounds, no blocks, no steals, 0-for-4 on 3s in 12:27 of playing time.
Eric Gordon: On the opposite end of the spectrum, Gordon may have bought himself some time. Was a sparkplug, made 4-of-7 3s and had two steals. Brings a toughness that is difficult to discard.
O.J. Mayo: Like Gordon, he played as though he knew his job was on the line: 18 points, seven boards, 3-for-6 on 3s. Fits the way this team wants to play, but hard to see him making final 12.
JaVale McGee: The hard part about cutting him is they don't have anyone else like him - a jumping-jack 7-footer who can spell Tyson Chandler at center. And with Brook Lopez playing poorly while still recovering from mononucleosis, it's difficult to discard a big with a unique skill set.
Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo said the team was leaning toward bringing as many as 15 players to Europe after playing an exhibition game against France at Madison Square Garden on Aug. 15 and a closed scrimmage against China sometime in the second week of August.
The thinking on bringing 15 across the pond is this: The final 12-man roster for the World Championship in Turkey does not have to be submitted until Aug. 26, and the U.S. federation will want to have a longer look at some of the bubble guys (and have extra players on hand in case of injuries) during a tough three-game exhibition tour -- a back-to-back against Lithuania and Spain on Aug. 21-22 in Madrid, and a game against Greece in Athens on Aug. 25.
Team USA opens the Worlds with three games in three nights Aug. 28-30 against Croatia, Slovenia and Brazil. The schedule then gets super-easy, with an off day Aug. 31, a back-to-back against Iran and Tunisia Sept. 1-2 to close out the first round, then four consecutive days off (if they win Group B) before their Round of 16 single-elimination game Sept. 6. (If the Americans finish 2nd in Group B, they'd play Sept. 5. If they finish 3rd, they'd play Sept. 7).