Thursday, April 30, 2009
Updated: May 21, 3:56 PM ET
Who'll get the openings on Team USA?
By Chris Sheridan
It won't be until a year from now, the spring of 2010, before anyone must give a definitive "yes" or "no" -- and it's a safe bet that minds are going to change between now and then.
But as of now, it appears as many as eight members of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team could be representing Team USA at the 2010 World Championship in Turkey: LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams.
There are some two dozen players who would love to claim one of those four remaining spots, so let's have a look at who will be in Team USA's training camp this summer in Las Vegas, along with their prospects for wearing the red, white and blue when the World Championship competition is held Aug. 28-Sept. 12, 2010.
(Note: Additional invitations will be forthcoming from USA Basketball, so the following alphabetical list does not represent a full rundown of this summer's camp participants -- only those who have been or could be invited).
• LaMarcus Aldridge: Scrimmaged against the U.S. Olympians last summer with the U.S. Select Team. Was invited to play for the Select Team in '07, but could not go because of injury.
• Shane Battier: A member of the 2006 U.S. team that finished third in Japan, he was unable to compete in '07 and '08 for personal reasons. If Kobe drops out of the 2010 mix, this could be your replacement lockdown defender.
• Jerryd Bayless: Another member of the '08 Select Team, he faces some extraordinarily stiff competition to separate himself from the pack at guard.
• Andrew Bynum: If he continues to develop, and if the Lakers give him clearance after he rushed back from knee surgery, he'd be a prize catch for a program seeking promising young big men. And in the 2012 Olympics, there will no longer be a trapezoid-shaped lane -- a big boost for the likes of Dwight Howard and Yao Ming ... and maybe Bynum.
• Kevin Durant: He played so well the past two summers, there was serious talk of adding him to the Beijing roster before the powers that be whittled the competition for the 12th spot to Tayshaun Prince and Tyson Chandler.
• Danny Granger: Versatility and scoring acumen are viewed especially fondly by the Team USA brain trust, but they'll also want to judge how good Granger is at one of the staples of FIBA basketball -- the catch-and-shoot 3-pointer.
• Jeff Green: Barring an injury between now and late July, he and Andre Iguodala will be the only players in camp to have been on the '07, '08 and '09 Select Teams.
• Devin Harris: Might be the fastest player in camp this summer, unless Chris Paul shows up and scrimmages -- which he has been telling colleagues he might do.
• Al Jefferson: Would have been a favorite to make the '10 team, but his knee injury will keep him sidelined this summer.
• Joe Johnson: Coach Mike Krzyzewski loved him in Japan with the '06 team, but Michael Redd stole his role with his shooting at the '07 Tournament of the Americas. There is an ongoing internal Team USA discussion about whether to return him to the mix.
• Jason Kapono: Was put on the '07 Select Team after the Raptors threw all that money at him, but his stock has dropped to the point where even getting an invite this summer is uncertain.
• David Lee: Was with the program in '07, and told ESPN.com on the final night of the Knicks' season that he'd be in camp this summer. But if his contract status remains unresolved by then (he is a restricted free agent), it could complicate matters.
• Brook Lopez: He was with the Select Team in '08, and the committee is on the fence about whether he and/or his brother Robin should be invited to Vegas.
• Kevin Love: Another comebacker from the '08 Select Team. One NBA scout who specializes in international basketball feels Love's game is perfectly suited to the FIBA style, and he predicted last summer that Love will be on the London Olympic team.
• O.J. Mayo: If USA Basketball sticks with past practice and bars reporters from watching practice this summer, the tales of this guy and Kevin Durant going at each other will go untold. Memo to Mr. Colangelo: Let's not let that happen.
• Greg Oden: Due to injuries, he was an invitee but just a spectator at the last two Team USA camps. It'd be nice to see how he looks in practice against Bynum (Memo to Jerry Colangelo: Review my previous memo.)
• Rajon Rondo: If you can't shoot free throws (64.2 percent this season), you are a liability in international basketball. And in a crowded point guard field, those kinds of things become determining factors.
• Derrick Rose: Remember what we said about Devin Harris being the fastest player in camp? Well, maybe we need to rethink that. Now, which one is the better defender? Right now, it's Harris.
• Brandon Roy: Here is a guy who always has his hands on the ball during crucial possessions late in the game. Problem is, Team USA already has about nine of those guys.
• Rodney Stuckey: Have we mentioned how crowded the field is in the backcourt? That is why Stuckey's camp invitation is not in the mail yet. At a certain point, a crowded house becomes too crowded.
• Russell Westbrook: It will not rain in Vegas in July, but there will be plenty of Thunder. And don't forget, Colangelo likely will set his sights on inviting a couple of high draft picks, so Oklahoma City might actually have four players in Team USA camp.
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN Insider. To e-mail Sheridan, click here.