If the Americans, who face Lithuania in a semifinal Saturday, win the FIBA World Championship gold medal Sunday at the Sinan Erdem Dome, they will clinch a berth to the 2012 Olympics in London.
But if Team USA falls short and an NBA lockout prevents NBA players from participating in an Americas qualifying tournament next summer in Argentina, there could be some anxious moments. With many observers believing there will be a lockout, FanHouse two weeks ago looked at what could happen if the Americans don't win the Worlds gold.
"If we can come away with a championship, it would clarify things for us next summer,'' USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said in an interview Friday with FanHouse. "It's not a matter of urgency. What it is is reality. The reality is if you win, you don't have to be concerned with next summer because you've automatically qualified. If you don't win, everything is up in the air because you don't know what's going to happen next summer (with the NBA collective bargaining agreement expiring June 30, 2011).
"I know the easiest thing for me is, let's win. And then we can kind of ride the storm out, whatever that storm is. ... The easiest path is win, and then everything else takes care of itself.''
Regardless of whether the Americans win gold this weekend, Colangelo already has in mind how he's going to handle the next NBA season. For starters, he's not planning on individual discussions with players any time soon after the Worlds.
"I think we need to let some time elapse because training camp is just a few weeks away, and that's got to be their focus,'' Colangelo said.
As the season progresses, Colangelo plans to talk with all 35 players in USA Basketball's pool for the 2012 Olympics.
"We will be making the contact with players,'' Colangelo said. "At some point, I want to get a read from a list of 30. Who's in? Who wants to be considered? ... Just tell me if you want to be considered (for London). It's as simple as that.''
Winning the gold Sunday will make the next two years much simpler for Team USA.
Rose Doesn't Expect Carmelo Soon
While Chicago guard Derrick Rose said it's too early to think too much about the possibly having Carmelo Anthony as a teammate, he would love to play with the star forward.
"Why wouldn't I want to play with him?'' the Team USA starter told FanHouse.
ESPN.com reported earlier this week the Bulls are interested in trading for Anthony, who reportedly wants out of Denver, and that Chicago center Joakim Noah is a possible key piece to go to the Nuggets.
"Right now, I think that we have our team (in order for the season),'' Rose said. "If it was something like (a trade for Anthony), I would have heard it (was close) or somebody would have called me. Nobody has called me yet.
"He's still in Denver. He hasn't said he wants to leave. So right now, I'm just playing it between the lines and worrying about what's going on (in Turkey).''
Odom a Trivia Answer?
True, NBA players only have been competing in the Worlds since 1994. Still, it's something nobody has done.
If Team USA wins gold, Lakers big man Lamar Odom would become the first player to win an NBA and World Championship championship in the same year.
"Not just the only guy to do it but just to attain that goal,'' Odom said of what a thrill it would be to pick up another title ring less three months after he got his last one. "But it's always nice to be a name that pops up in trivia questions.''
Since NBA players began participating in the Olympics in 1992, only Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen of Chicago have won NBA and Olympic titles in the same year. Jordan did it in 1992 and Pippen in both 1992 and 1996.
Forward Kevin Durant is averaging nearly 20 points a game. Few on Team USA thought that would happen.
"We've never had to rely on one guy to score as much as he sometimes is relied (upon) to score,'' coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Durant, who is averaging 19.9 points and would top Luther Burden's 1974 Team USA Worlds record of 20.2 if he scores 44 or more points in his final two games.
Anthony averaged 19.9 points for Krzyzewski's 2006 Worlds team but Dwyane Wade was right behind at 19.3. Durant's average is more than eight points better than that of No. 2 American scorer Chauncey Billups, who is at 11.6.
"Not really, to be honest with you,'' Durant said of thinking he would average this many points. "I'm playing within the offense. I'm not going out there and forcing anything. I'm not calling for the ball every time. If you let the game come to you, that's when shots come to you and start to fall. I'm going to take this mentality into my season at Oklahoma City as well. So I'm learning a lot.''
Krzyzewski also lauded Durant's defense and rebounding during the Worlds, saying he's become better in both areas.
Chris Tomasson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @christomasson