Colangelo reconsiders expanding Team USA finalists after injuries
Jerry Colangelo said Team USA may have to consider adding other finalists
Derrick Rose (torn ACL) became the latest key member of Team USA lost to injury
Colangelo had previously said he wouldn't expand the roster of 20 finalists
Derrick Rose's season-ending knee injury on Saturday could turn out to be good news for one person: his replacement for Team USA's pool of finalists for this summer's Olympics in London.
Just three days after saying the roster of Olympic team finalists would not be expanded after the recent rash of injuries to key players, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told SI.com that he is reconsidering his stance after the Bulls point guard tore his ACL in Game 1 of their series against the Sixers.
"What I said [previously] was that we didn't plan to do any additions, but we had to continue to monitor the injury situation," Colangelo said. "Obviously this is a big loss. [Point guard] seems to be, at this point, still a pretty strong position. But at this stage, quite honestly, I think all bets are off."
While Rose didn't play in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, he was a member of the Select team and later played a key role on the U.S. team that won a gold medal at the 2010 FIBA World Championship.
Five of the 20 original Olympic team finalists chosen in January have since been scratched off Colangelo's list, with Rose preceded by Magic center Dwight Howard (back surgery), Clippers point guard Chauncey Billups (torn Achilles), Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge (hip surgery) and Mavericks small forward Lamar Odom (personal issues; no longer active with the team). Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who would have been a natural fit to replace Howard, recently told the Los Angeles Times that he plans to have the same platelet-rich plasma therapy on his knee that teammate Kobe Bryant underwent last offseason and would not be available.
The current Team USA finalists are Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks), Chris Bosh (Miami Heat), Bryant, Tyson Chandler (New York Knicks), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder), Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies), Eric Gordon (New Orleans Hornets), Blake Griffin (Los Angeles Clippers), Andre Iguodala (Philadelphia 76ers), LeBron James (Miami Heat), Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat), Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) and Deron Williams (New Jersey Nets).
Although the deadline for teams to set rosters with the Olympic Committee isn't until June 18, Colangelo said Team USA had planned to announce its final 12-man roster on June 1. Rose's injury, however, has drastically changed that plan.
"I think now we're going to wait until the very last moment to pick the team, because it seems ridiculous with a lot of playoff games to play that we would select a team," he said. "We might as well keep the options open as long as we can, and continue to monitor [the situation].
"Our staffs (including coach Mike Krzyzewski) are going to be meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Vegas, and we're going to be talking about all of that. But I'm certain that that's going to be the call."
In light of the fact that the NBA playoffs could last until June 28, Colangelo hinted he might request more time, beyond the deadline.
"We'll try to get as much time as we can under the circumstances," he said.
While Colangelo didn't say who is in the running for the opening, it's clear that players who were previously being considered for the Select team could now be in the mix for Team USA. The Select team is scheduled to train with Team USA in Las Vegas from July 6 to 11, and will play against it leading up to five exhibition games that run through late July and finish in Spain.
There is a dearth of big men, though, with the Griffin, Love, Bosh and Chandler the only members of the team's front court who are expected to be available. That could lead to improved chances for Sacramento's second-year center, DeMarcus Cousins, who averaged 18.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game this season and was already being looked at for the Select team.
"I'm really looking at the [Select] team we bring in to scrimmage our players, to a large degree, to be the makeup of who represents us in 2014 in Spain in the Worlds," Colangelo said. "And his name was on that list to talk about, consider etc. Certainly he would be a candidate.
"With the fact that we've had two key guys go down and the two positions that are involved, we just have to really analyze what we're prepared to do. It's what the coaching staff feels they need. If they feel there's a shortcoming somewhere, that's where we have to go."
The loss of Rose, Colangelo said, could alter the entire emphasis of the team's identity as well.
"We've said that the strength of the team is going to be athleticism, wing players, the backcourt, but we'll see," he said. "We're going to have to consider a lot of things. The good news is that so many people wish and desire to play that we will be very deep regardless of what happens here -- unless there's another rash of things happening here. I pray that it's over."