Billups Key Addition for Team USA's World Championships Player Pool
It's Chauncey Billups to the rescue.
FanHouse has learned the Denver Nuggets point guard has agreed to have his name in a list of about 25 players that will be announced Wednesday by USA Basketball. The pool of players, which USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said could number as many as 28, eventually will be cut to 12 for the Aug. 28-Sept. 12 World Championships.
Billups has a very good chance of making the final roster. Team USA does have Utah's Deron Williams at the point remaining from the 2008 Summer Olympics, but lost Dallas veteran Jason Kidd after he decided to retire from international competition.
The ranks at point guard might have gotten thinner due to Paul having knee surgery last week, which will keep him out of action until at least early March. It remains to be seen what the New Orleans star's level of interest in playing this summer will be due to the injury.
After Paul got hurt, USA stepped up its interest in Billups, who played for Team USA in the 2007 Olympic qualifying tournament before bowing out before the 2008 Olympics due to family reasons.
Billups is playing some of the best ball of his career. Entering Tuesday's game against Dallas, Billups was averaging 19.7 points, in line to be a career high, and will play Sunday in his fifth straight All-Star Game.
Billups will join teammate, Carmelo Anthony, a 2008 Olympic holdover, on the list of names announced today. Anthony is a lock for Turkey.
There will be 10 holdovers from the 2008 gold medal-winning Olympic team on the list, all but Kidd and injured Milwaukee guard Michael Redd. While Anthony, the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Cleveland's LeBron James, Miami's Dwyane Wade, Toronto's Chris Bosh, Orlando's Dwight Howard, Paul and Williams are all considered locks for Turkey unless they pull out, Utah's Carlos Boozer and Detroit's Tayshaun Prince will have to battle to retain spots.
With Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant assured of a spot, that means there will be at least three positions open. Billups certainly looks to be a good bet for one.
Other players known to be on Wednesday's list include Portland's LaMarcus Aldridge, New York's David Lee, Memphis' Rudy Gay, Kevin Love and Al Jefferson of Minnesota and Jeff Green and Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City. Westbrook is another point guard who could add depth to the roster but the second-year man has nowhere near the experience of Billups, 33, a 13-year NBA veteran.
Of the 25 or so players named, Colangelo has said the list will be cut to between 15 to 18 for a minicamp July 22-25 in Las Vegas. The list will be further cut down by the time training camp begins Aug. 10.
Team USA is looking to bring home the gold medal in the World Championships for the first time since 1994. It took bronze in 2006.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@christomasson