U.S. likely to add to Olympic pool

Updated: May 2, 2012, 2:07 PM ET
By Shea Serrano | ESPN.com

In the wake of an injury crisis, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Tuesday that he's likely to add "one or two players" to the list of finalists for Team USA's Olympic roster.

The U.S. announced 20 finalists in January, but has since lost four of those candidates to injury. Starting center Dwight Howard recently had back surgery and point guard Derrick Rose tore a knee ligament Saturday.

The losses of Howard and Rose follows previous season-ending injuries suffered by Chauncey Billups (Achilles) and LaMarcus Aldridge (hip).

Colangelo announced the intent to add a player or two to the preliminary roster at a news conference in Las Vegas with Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski in the midst of meetings with Krzyzewski's staff about the roster and logistics for the summer.

Colangelo said Tuesday that the 12-man final roster won't be selected "until the very last moment," but the deadline still falls before the NBA playoffs will be over in late June. A final roster with up to six alternates is due June 18, although USA Basketball had been planning to make the selections by June 1 before the rash of injuries.

Team USA should be able to withstand the loss of Rose, as long as it suffers no further backcourt casualties, because Colangelo and Krzyzewski can still call upon Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook at point guard.

The frontcourt rotation is where Team USA needs reinforcements most after the injuries suffered by Howard and Aldridge left only four recognized centers or power forwards on the original 20-man preliminary roster announced in January: Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler and Blake Griffin.

Although LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant can all routinely be deployed as power forwards against most opponents in the international game, Team USA knows it needs ample size to counter its biggest rivals from Spain, who can trot out Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.

Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Sacramento Kings power forward DeMarcus Cousins, Detroit Pistons center Greg Monroe and incoming Kentucky star Anthony Davis -- widely regarded as a lock to be selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft -- are among the young big men under consideration to be among the late additions Colangelo mentioned.

The most natural replacement for Howard is Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum, but Bynum stated publicly in April that he intends to take the summer off to get some rest and treatment for his knees. Indiana Pacers center Roy Hibbert would be another natural contender, especially after his stint on the USA's Pan-American team in 2007, but Hibbert elected to join Jamaica's senior national team for the 2010 Centrobasket tournament and FIBA rules preclude players from representing two different countries at the senior level.

Colangelo met Monday and Tuesday with Krzyzewski and assistant coaches Jim Boeheim, Mike D'Antoni and Nate McMillan.

"I think we have concluded to some degree, although we're not finished with our meetings, that we will probably add one or two players to that pool and that's because of circumstances," Colangelo said. "And we are probably at this point not going to make any announcement on who that 12 will be until the very last moment as we watch the NBA games and keep our fingers crossed that no other further injuries take place.

"A lot of things have been said along the way. Equity is certainly right at the top of the list, those who have participated, paid their dues, etc. So equity is very important. No. 2, as injuries take their toll, we've said also that we would be fluid, there'd be additions, there'd be deletions and we need to be flexible. I think the key word today is flexibility. Flexibility on time, flexibility with names and roster sizes, etc."

Colangelo and Krzyzewski also confirmed during the press conference that Team USA would train in Las Vegas from July 6-11 and play an exhibition game against the Dominican Republic -- coached by Kentucky's John Calipari -- on July 12 at The Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV.

The remaining healthy finalists eligible for selection for the eventual 12-man squad bound for London are Anthony, Bosh, Kobe Bryant, Chandler, Durant, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Griffin, Andre Iguodala, James, Love, Paul, Dwyane Wade, Westbrook and Williams.

In what came as a surprise to observers, Colangelo told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday that he would also continue to consider Team USA veteran Lamar Odom for the London roster, despite the fact that Odom was deactivated by the Dallas Mavericks before the playoffs began after a poor season.

After telling the Los Angeles Times last month that he doubted that Odom could be ready "physically or emotionally" to remain in the mix for London, Colangelo told the Review-Journal that he prefers to be "willing to give someone a second chance" if Odom can reclaim the form that made him an integral part of the squad that won the FIBA World Championship in Turkey in 2010.

"I would like to think he'd like to put this season behind him," Colangelo was quoted as saying by the Review-Journal. "His Dallas episode hurt his image. If he comes in and shows he can be a contributor and his attitude is good and he wants to be here ... why not? As far as USA Basketball is concern, (Odom) is in the (player) pool and we'll see how it plays out."

Shea Serrano (@SheaSerrano) is a writer based in Houston. He has written for MTV, XXL, Vice, Complex, Myspace, and other outlets.

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