Kevin Durant Dazzles, Tough Cuts Loom for Team USA Basketball
Then again, it looks as if the Philadelphia swingman is safe anyhow. His stellar play in the USA Basketball Showcase at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday night caused the Team USA coach to get a bit giddy after the White beat the Blue 114-96 in the intrasquad game that concluded a five-day training camp.
"Andre just had a great week,'' Krzyzewski said of his play on the team preparing for next month's World Championship in Turkey. "I told him right after (Saturday's) game out on the court I thought he was beautifully efficient. I'm not sure anybody's called him beautiful. I know nobody has ever called me beautiful. So I was looking actually for a return on him, saying, 'Coach, you look beautiful.' ... Andre, he can defend. You need guys out there who don't have to touch the ball. ... (Iguodala is) one of the key guys for our basketball team.''
Iguodala's filling up of the box score was indeed a thing of beauty for the White. He shot 5 of 6 from the field and totaled 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in 24 minutes.
Yes, the leading scorer for the White and for the game was Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, who had 28 points. But Durant, named the game's Most Valuable Player, already was going to be on the team regardless of whether he returns compliments to Krzyzewski.
Saturday's game was about guys on the bubble. There were 19 players in camp competing to make the final 12-man roster, and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said the number will be cut to 15 by Monday in preparation for the Aug. 10-16 camp in New York.
Colangelo told FanHouse after the game that Sacramento guard Tyreke Evans being cut is "pretty obvious.'' Evans, who missed the final three practices and Saturday's game due to a sprained left ankle, had told FanHouse on Friday he didn't expect to survive the cut, and Colangelo had pretty much agreed with that.
"It was a bad break for him,'' Colangelo said. "He's a terrific kid. He's certainly part of our group and our team. We'll be looking at him down the road (in future summers) in all probability.''
So that brings it down to 18, with three more players still to be axed. In addition to Iguodala, it was perimeter guys who really helped themselves Saturday.
Memphis forward Rudy Gay, who pretty much was on the squad anyway, led the Blue with 23 points. His Grizzlies teammate, guard O.J. Mayo, who needed to show more, did that with 18 points and seven rebounds for the Blue.
On the White, Chicago's Derrick Rose showed he might be the starting point guard on this outfit, having a magnificent outing for the White with 15 points, eight assists, five steals and no turnovers. Denver's Chauncey Billups started at shooting guard for the Blue and might actually end up playing more there.
"I thought Derrick played a beautiful game,'' said Krzyzewski, showing that Iguodala wasn't the only guy worthy of that description.
Also playing well for the White was the Clippers' Eric Gordon, who has been on the bubble due to the glut at point guard and being undersized for a shooting guard at 6-foot-3. But Gordon sure shot it well Saturday, going 4-of-7 on three-pointers and scoring 16 points.
"He played extremely well and shot the ball well,'' Colangelo said. "He's a terrific young guard.''
Still, Gordon is by no means a lock. It's doubtful both he and Golden State guard Stephen Curry (14 points for the White) both end up making the team since they duplicate each other, being shooters who aren't true point guards.
Some other players who might now be in trouble to be cut include Indiana forward Danny Granger (five points and five fouls for the White), Charlotte forward Gerald Wallace (four points and no rebounds for the White), Oklahoma City forward Jeff Green (11 points and eight rebounds but just 5-of-13 shooting for the Blue) and either Washington center JaVale McGee or New Jersey center Brook Lopez.
Colangelo said on Friday he expected to take all three centers to New York, but backed off that prediction Saturday.
"It's not necessarily the case (anymore),'' Colangelo said.
Mavericks center Tyson Chandler has secured a berth, likely all the way to Turkey. He shot 6-of-6 for 13 points and had nine rebounds and four blocks in just 20 minutes for the White.
"I'm absolutely pleased with Tyson,'' said Krzyzewski, who actually didn't call his play beautiful. "He hadn't played for a while (due to injuries the past couple of seasons to his ankle). ... To see him respond in a short period of time like that was very, very encouraging to me.''
But it appears there is an argument that taking all three centers could keep somebody else from getting a longer look. In the biggest jeopardy among centers is McGee, even if he said, "I think I've got a good chance'' to make it to New York. McGee, who had seven points and three rebounds in nine minutes for the Blue, is still very raw.
Lopez was brutal Saturday, totaling two points and no rebounds for the Blue, but he would provide insurance in the low post if Chandler gets hurt, and Team USA officials are aware he's still working himself back in shape after a recent bout with mono.
"We have to try to project who fits and who doesn't,'' said Colangelo, who sat at midcourt during the game with Krzyzewski and assistant Jim Boeheim. "(Deliberations) are ongoing. We were talking during the game -- Jimmy, Coach K and myself. We were talking after the game. We'll talk (late Saturday night) and we'll continue (Sunday). By Monday, we'll have (cuts) done.''
The Americans are trying to put together a team on the fly after all the 2008 Olympians bowed out earlier this summer. One of those Olympians, Utah guard Deron Williams, watched from a courtside seat. He's confident Team USA can get it done in Turkey.
"It's good to be here,'' Williams said. "I like it here. It's a good team once again. We got a lot of young talent.''
Heading the youngsters is Durant.
"We did as much as we can,'' Durant said of the week of camp. "It's all up to the coaches. I think that everybody did a really good job of showing what they can do and making the coaches make a tough decision.''
At least Durant doesn't have to sweat it out until Monday. Krzyzewski has known for a while his play is beautiful.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson.