Team USA Must Select 2012 Olympians Without Benefit of a Camp
LOS ANGELES -- Chris Bosh does not envy Jerry Colangelo.
For the 2008 Olympics, Colangelo, USA Basketball's chairman, had until July 1 to set the roster, which was shortly after Team USA had scheduled a minicamp June 27-28 in Las Vegas, although the players actually were decided upon before the camp. But, if the Americans want to have a camp before choosing the final roster for the 2012 Games in London, it won't be possible.
Due to the upcoming Olympics starting July 27, 2012, as opposed to the Bejing Games beginning Aug. 8, 2008, nations must provide the names of 12 players and six alternatives by June 18, 2012. That won't be enough time to have a minicamp to give Colangelo, with the help of coach Mike Krzyzewski, a final chance to evaluate players.
"There's so many great players with the national team right now, I'm glad I don't have to pick them,'' Bosh, the Miami forward who played in the 2008 Olympics, said during All-Star Weekend on Friday when asked about the process perhaps being made more difficult due to the earlier start of the London Olympics.
The are 10 holdovers from the 2008 Olympic gold-medal winning outfit in Team USA's pool of 34 players for 2012 and 12 off last summer's World Championship team that won gold to clinch a 2012 Olympic berth. The number should rise to 35 due to Colangelo saying Friday Clippers forward Blake Griffin is a good bet to be added.
"Literally, what I have to do now is just look at what happens the rest of this season and what happens next season during the year, and then we have to submit our roster ... without a camp,'' Colangelo said. "The good news is... everyone wants to play. Start with that. The difficulty is we will not have a get-together camp situation to go through a lot of that stuff... At the end of the day, we're going to have to pick 12 names (June 18) without having the ability to get our team together.''
Actually, Bosh said Friday he remains noncommittal for 2012 and his Miami teammate, Dwyane Wade, had said last fall it was too early to commit. But the other top six 2008 Olympians have said they want to play in London.
Colangelo, whose Americans will have a training camp in July 2012 after the Olympic roster has been submitted, wouldn't call what he faces for 2012 extra pressure because he said so many of the top players have been with USA Basketball for either the 2008 or 2010 events. Still, because there are so many more strong candidates for 2012 than there were for 2008, one would think a minicamp would be handy to look at chemistry issues and to help nail down the final roster spots.
Due to Team USA already having qualified for London coupled with the strong possibility of an NBA lockout, USA Basketball officials are not planning to have any sort of camp this summer. Colangelo had told FanHouse last November he would like to have a celebration involving the gold medalists off the 2008 and 2010 teams this summer in Las Vegas, and he said Friday that remains a possibility.
For the London Olympics, naming six alternatives does give Team USA some flexibility. Players can be replaced up to 48 hours before the start of the Olympics if there is an injury or what is deemed a legitimate reason.
"Voluntary withdrawal is a lot easier than deciding that a guy's not playing well,'' said USA Basketball executive director Jim Tooley.
The earlier 2012 deadline could make matters tougher if a team such as the Heat, which features 2008 Olympian LeBron James in addition to Wade and Bosh, is in the 2012 Finals. Those players might want to see how they feel after the Finals before making a final commitment. While no Finals schedule has been set for 2012, it's possible a Game 7 could be June 21, 2012 due to such a game often being set for the third Thursday in June.
In 2008, Colangelo was at least able to wait until after the NBA Finals, which ended June 17, before making the Olympic selections. The team was picked June 23.
"I'm just worried about right now,'' Bosh said Friday on whether he had any update on whether he wants to play in London. "(The Olympics in) 2012 is a little ways away. There are so many other things that can happen between now and then. We just have to wait until that time comes to talk about it more thoroughly.''
James has committed to London as have 2008 Olympians Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Colangelo has said Kevin Durant, star of the 2010 team in Turkey, has a 2012 Olympic spot locked up.
Even though he's not yet officially on the roster, Griffin, who made the All-Star Game as a rookie after missing all of last season due to a knee injury, has to be regarded as a serious candidate for London. Griffin, who told Fanhouse last November he hopes to play in the 2012 Olympics, was invited to training camp last July in Las Vegas but couldn't make it due to his knee not being fully ready.
"Maybe I add Blake Griffin as part of it because he was going to part of it,'' Colangelo said. "But he couldn't participate so he's really in the system. But he's also going to be in the mix.''
The pool of 34 players includes Portland forward LaMarcus Aldridge and Utah forward Al Jefferson, who dropped out of World Championship consideration last summer for what weren't obvious injury reasons. Those two weren't on the 2008 Olympic team, with all those players being told Colangelo they could skip 2010 for whatever reason and it wouldn't be held against them.
Colangelo had told FanHouse last July that Aldridge had hurt his 2012 Olympic chances by dropping out. But Colangelo said Friday that Aldridge, who is having a breakout season, and Jefferson are in as good of a standing as anybody on the roster.
"I'm a happy guy,'' Colangelo said.
Colangelo, though, is less happy about having an earlier roster deadline for the 2012 Olympics.