Sources: Blake Griffin a lock for USA

Updated: July 7, 2012, 11:21 AM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com

Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin has been elevated to a lock to make Team USA's Olympic squad, according to sources close to the process, leaving USA Basketball coaches and officials with essentially five players for two remaining roster spots.

A rash of injuries and pullouts leading up to this week's opening of training camp prompted Team USA chairman Jerry Colangelo to say there are nine automatics for the 12-man roster that will be announced Saturday night live on NBA TV: Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant, Tyson Chandler, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams.

[+] EnlargeBlake Griffin
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireBlake Griffin is a lock to make the United States' Olympic team, sources said Friday.

Sources told ESPN.com that Griffin quiely has been added to that group as well, leaving five players -- Anthony Davis, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, James Harden and Andre Iguodala -- in contention for the last two roster berths, to be revealed following Saturday's practice session.

One source said Friday that Iguodala and Harden went into camp as the favorites for the last two spots.

Team USA's need for size in the wake of losing Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Bosh to injury, along with Lamar Odom's late pullout, appeared to give Davis real hope of making the final roster, despite the fact the No. 1 overall pick in last month's draft is the only player being considered with no NBA experience.

Yet, it appears the odds are stacked against Davis sneaking in ahead of a veteran when he's not ready to play right away. An ankle injury Davis suffered recently in a workout with his new team in New Orleans has kept college basketball's consensus player of the year off the floor for the past two days and prompted Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski to tell reporters in Las Vegas on Friday the Hornets' prized rookie is "not near 100 percent."

When it comes to Griffin, though, one source told ESPN.com his inclusion is "99 percent" assured despite concerns about how the bruising power forward will cope in the international game with his inconsistent face-up game and Team USA's overall need for shooting.

Griffin said Friday he took two weeks off after the season and is healthy now after dealing with a variety of ailments at the end of the season. This is Griffin's first experience with USA Basketball since he was 17.

"That's my focus right now," Griffin said Friday during Team USA's first media session in Vegas. "Actually having a chance to compete for this is great. It's been really fun."

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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