Rajon Rondo, Robin Lopez Added to Team USA Roster
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in an interview Sunday with FanHouse that Boston star Rajon Rondo has committed to Team USA, hoping to be part of the team that will play later this summer in the World Championships.
Colangelo said he spoke to Rondo on Saturday, and he confirmed his desire to participate. Rondo previously had begged off this summer due a family commitment.
During the weekend, Colangelo learned officially that Utah point guard Deron Williams and New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, both holdovers from the 2008 Olympic team, won't be playing. In telling FanHouse last Monday that all the other 2008 Olympians were off the team, Colangelo said also Paul (knee injury) and Williams (wrist injury) might not be able to play due to injury. So he knew then there was a good chance there would be no holdovers.
Colangelo also said Sunday that Phoenix center Robin Lopez has been added to the roster, making it 22 players who will be in Las Vegas for the July 20-24 training camp. His twin brother, New Jersey center Brook Lopez, already is on the roster.
Colangelo spoke to Rondo's agent, Bill Duffy, on Friday and was told that Colangelo would have an answer the next day on Rondo. On Saturday, Colangelo spoke with Rondo.
"We got confirmation (Saturday night) that Rondo will come,'' Colangelo said. "We're very pleased to have Rondo with us. He's very enthusiastic (about representing Team USA). We feel very comfortable with where we're at.''
While not the All-Star Rondo is, Colangelo also feels good about the addition of Robin Lopez. Living in Phoenix and with his long-term ties to the Suns, Colangelo has watched closely as the second-year man has developed.
"His brother has made some big improvements and (Robin Lopez) was making improvements until he unfortunately got injured and that knocked him out for the balance of the year (he was lost in March with back injury and didn't return until the Western Conference finals against the Lakers),'' Colangelo said. "But he was really starting to come on.''
Colangelo also said Sunday he never received any contact from New Jersey for its top executive position due to Nets president Rod Thorn soon to depart. Colangelo's name had been mentioned as a possible candidate.
There are 33 players now on the Team USA roster, and the 11 who won't be candidates for Turkey will remain in good standing for the 2012 Olympics in London. Those 11, in addition to Paul and Williams, are 2008 Olympians LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Tayshaun Prince and Boston center Kendrick Perkins, who is out after suffering a serious knee injury in last month's NBA Finals.
"I just talked to (coach Mike Krzyzewski) and we're excited to get it going,'' Colangelo said of preparations for the World Championships, which run Aug. 28-Sept. 12 in Turkey. "We've got a lot of new guys and the competition is going to be wide open.''
Due to the competition for roster spots, Colangelo said following an Aug. 10-16 training camp in New York, Team USA likely will take as many as "15 or 16" players to Europe for a week of training and playing exhibition games in Spain and Greece before arriving Aug. 25 in Turkey. The roster must be cut down to 12 by Aug. 26, but Colangelo said the players who don't make it likely will be invited to stay in Turkey to be around the team.
"We want to have two or three extra guys because we've still have practices and three exhibitions in Europe before we get to Turkey because it's so wide open,'' Colangelo said.
Colangelo believes the Americans, despite being very young, are in good shape heading into the Worlds, an event they haven't won since 1994. He was not surprised to get the official news this weekend about Paul and Williams being out.
"Chris isn't physically ready to play and Deron is going to spend some time with his family and he wasn't totally healthy,'' said Colangelo, who spoke Sunday with Paul. "So he's going to take a pass, which is fine.''
Colangelo called all of the 2008 Olympians not playing "yesterday's news.'' Among the other two, Jason Kidd (retired) and Michael Redd (knee injury) previously had been ruled out and weren't on the roster.
In addition to Rondo and the Lopez twins, others confirmed to be at the training camp in Las Vegas are Kevin Durant, who has been guaranteed a roster spot, Amar'e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups, both all but locks, LaMarcus Aldridge, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Danny Granger, Jeff Green, Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, David Lee, Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo, Lamar Odom, Derrick Rose, Gerald Wallace and Russell Westbrook.
Colangelo said he's invited all the 2008 Olympians to come to Las Vegas to be around the team. He said Paul has confirmed being there, and others might also be on hand.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson.