LeBron James wasn't selected as an All-Star reserve as a rookie, but he could be in line for a nice consolation prize: a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.
James is a favorite of Team USA coach Larry Brown and has responded to his All-Star snub by leading Cleveland on a surge that has taken the Cavs from the lottery into sixth in the Eastern Conference. Support for James' inclusion on the Olympic squad is sure to grow as a result.
"LeBron's name has been discussed, but, as of now, he has not been extended an invitation," NBA vice president Stu Jackson, the league's liason to USA Basketball, told ESPN.com's Marc Stein on Wednesday.
"We're hopeful," Jackson said.
Team USA has at least three roster spots open for the Summer Games in Athens.
Yet it's possible that additional spots could open up at the swing positions, with Kobe Bryant's availability this summer in question because of Bryant's forthcoming sexual assault trial in Colorado. Ray Allen, meanwhile, has said that he might be forced to withdraw from the Olympic team because he's getting married and because his fiancee is due to give birth around Sept. 1. The Olympics run Aug. 15-28.
It's believed that Vince Carter, who replaced Bryant on last summer's Olympic qualifying team, would be the first choice to fill one of those slots.
However, Carter told The Associated Press that he will not play this summer.
"I'm just going to take it easy and let all the injuries heal,
let my body heal. I've got a lot going on this summer, I'm just
going to focus on that," said Carter, who plans to get married
"It's tough, because it is a wonderful experience," said
Carter, who was a key player for the United States at the Sydney
Games. "But I have my duties here as well."
Bryant and Allen were two of the nine core players originally selected by USA Basketball, along with Mike Bibby, Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd, Karl Malone, Tracy McGrady and Jermaine O'Neal. With Duncan and Malone slowed recently by knee injuries, those two roster spots could also come open, although USAB officials would likely fill those positions with frontcourt players.
It's not yet known if Carmelo Anthony, James' fellow rookie, is also under consideration. Richard Jefferson is another swingman who could contend for a roster spot after filling one of the three so-called "role player" spots on the qualifying team, along with Elton Brand and Nick Collison.
Information from ESPN.com's Marc Stein was used in this report.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.