Amar'e Stoudemire, Robin Lopez to Skip World Championships
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo confirmed before the team's first practice here Tuesday in preparation for next month's World Championships in Turkey that the New York star big man will not play due to the inability of the Knicks to have insurance to cover him in international play.
Colangelo said Phoenix big man Robin Lopez also has dropped due to wanting to continue to rehabilitate a back injury that hampered him late last season.
Team USA already has lost all its members from the 2008 gold-winning Olympic team. And in the past week it has lost big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Al Jefferson, who were expected to train in Las Vegas. Team USA has added Washington Wizards big man JaVale McGee for some additional depth, meaning there are 20 players battling for 12 spots in Turkey.
Colangelo said Stoudemire dropped out because the Knicks wouldn't let him play due to insurance reasons. Colangelo said his Phoenix contract had covered him before but Stoudemire signed a five-year, $100 deal with the Knicks as a free agent earlier this month.
Stoudemire had had microfracture knee surgery. A USA Basketball official also mentioned an issue being an eye injury Stoudemire suffered 1 1/2 years ago, which is called a pre-existing condition and wouldn't be covered by an insurance company.
"It was made for us,'' Colangelo said of the decision. "We don't have to make a decision regarding Amar'e because if the team who has the investment will not allow him to play because they don't have coverage for him in international play, that eliminates him.''
Colangelo said he can't say whether Stoudemire might still be eligible to play with the 2012 Olympic team.
"I can only address now,'' Colangelo said. "Maybe (the Knicks) change their mind afterwards. I don't know.''
"The Knicks notified us (Monday) night,'' Colangelo said. "I got three or four calls from (president) Donnie Walsh saying they were going to pull him. They don't have coverage for him ... It was late notice.''
Colangelo seemed irritated he didn't hear until Monday night even though Stoudemire signed 1 1/2 weeks ago, saying, "I'll say it again. It was late notice.''
Walsh did not immediately returning a message seeking comment.
"He really wanted to play,'' said Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, also a USA Basketball assistant who said he didn't learn Stoudemire was out until also getting a call Monday night from Walsh. "I think everybody is disappointed. But business is business. There are some big things at stake... (Walsh) called me and said in good conscience he couldn't do it. We would have liked to, but we just couldn't do it. It's just too much money (at stake with Stoudemire's contract if he were to get hurt).''
Colangelo said Robin Lopez will drop out in order to do his own rehabilitation on a back injury that sidelined him for about two months late last season. Colangelo said it's too early to say what the standing of Lopez, who was added to the team just a week earlier, is for the 2012 Olympics.
"I think it's just a precaution,'' Lopez's twin brother, New Jersey's Brook Lopez, who is on Team USA, said. "His back is doing fine. Just precautionary.''
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@christomasson