Team USA Cuts Jeff Green, JaVale McGee
The team trimmed the roster to 13 before Sunday's exhibition game against France at Madison Square Garden. The squad must be down to 12 players by Aug. 26, two days before the start of the World Championship, which runs Aug. 28-Sept. 12 in Turkey.
It was expected Green and McGee would be cut after neither played in a scrimmage Saturday against China at Madison Square Garden. Both had told FanHouse after the game they didn't know how they stood at the time in regards to possibly being let go.
"It's always difficult to tell anybody that we're going to reduce and we did,'' USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colengelo said in an interview at halftime of the game against France played in front of a sellout crowd. "They were both gracious when they were told. I mentioned it was possible they could be asked back the next couple of weeks if something happens, in terms of an injury or whatever.
"The coaching staff just wanted to get down to a more workable, manageable group because you can't get playing time for them anyway (in the three exhibition games coming up in Europe). We need to find things out during games.''
For the final spot on the team, it could come down to a battle between guards Eric Gordon and Stephen Curry. Colangelo said all 13 remaining players will travel with the team Monday when it leaves for Madrid, where it will play games against host Spain and Lithuania. The team will play an exhibition in Athens against host Greece before arriving Aug. 26 in Turkey.
The cuts of Green and McGee leave the Americans with just three true post players in Tyson Chandler, Lamar Odom and Kevin Love. Chandler is the only true center, but Odom and Love also will play there. Indiana's Danny Granger and Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, small forwards in the NBA, also will get time at power forward.
"No,'' Colangelo said when asked if he's concerned about the team's lack of height. "We are who are. You can't create something you're not. We're going to have to get it done in other ways: Athleticism, guard-oriented pressure and we got to shoot the ball (well).''
Colangelo did not want to say it could come down to Gordon and Curry for the last spot.
"I'm not going to say anything other than we're proceeding with 13, and we want to let it play out,'' said Colangelo, who had talked about bringing all 15 players to Europe before the coaches said they really wanted a less number. "We don't know yet (what will happen with the final roster spot). We're just going to see. Many times it just takes care of itself.''
Colangelo said Green and McGee are both ready to fly to Europe if there might be an emergency. He said team officials might very well wait through the Aug. 25 game against Greece before finalizing the roster.
"Cohesiveness,'' said Colangelo when asked what he hopes his very young team will accomplish in the three exhibitions in Europe. "It's getting your identity more than anything else and guys playing together. They have to be able to overcome the youth situation. We keep saying every day we've got to learn and we've got to get a little bit better. We're very conscious about rebounding and how we are competing on the boards. How is our zone defense working? And keep down your turnovers.''
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@christomasson