In case you didn't hear yet, the NBA lockout ruined everything. Thanks to last summer's disagreement over the new CBA between owners and players, the NBA's corresponding schedule was straight from hell. Most teams played 66 games in just about double the number of days and even saw back-to-backs added to the latter playoff rounds.
This scheduling has caused some nightmares for the USA basketball brain trust of Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski as they try to plan a training camp filled with healthy bodies. Injuries have influenced a process in which talent and fit should have been the deciding factors in selecting the 12-man roster to represent the U.S. in the 2012 Summer Olympics. The battle for the gold medal has instead become a war of attrition, with the remaining grind of the remaining NBA playoff rounds sure to claim another victim or two.
Because of this, USA Basketball has already added two names to the current roster pool (James Harden and Anthony Davis) and a few more could be added as training camp in Las Vegas approaches July 6. We'll take a look at how the pool of 22 is shaping up and try to figure out who will be representing the Stars and Stripes in London.
LaMarcus Aldridge: Aldridge saw his NBA season end in early April due to a torn labrum in hip. He has just begun walking and team president Larry Miller has been optimistic about his rehab process. The odds of him being physically ready to help Team USA are small, but not totally impossible.
Carmelo Anthony: Thanks to the Miami Heat, Melo has been able to enjoy a nice period of rest before training camp. Word is outside of some normal bumps and bruises, Anthony is healthy and all systems go to nail down a starting spot for Team USA.
Chauncey Billups: The aging Billups sadly lost out on perhaps his last opportunity to represent his country when he ruptured his Achilles tendon this February. His sage leadership, professionalism and ability to space the floor will be missed.
Chris Bosh: Bosh suffered an abdominal strain midway through Game 1 of Miami's Eastern Conference semifinal tilt against Indiana. The timetable for the injury is "indefinite" but could put into question his availability for Team USA. More than likely, Bosh will want to come back before being fully healed to help his teammates in their quest for the Larry O’Brien trophy. Should the Heat play deep into June with Bosh at far less than 100 percent, it's not beyond reason to think he may just use the summer to rest and recover.
Kobe Bryant: Bryant, like others still alive in the playoffs, will most likely be a last-minute call depending on how far his Laker squad advances and what that extra mileage does to his troublesome right knee. Knowing the competitor Bryant is and how much he enjoyed his last experience with Team USA, he is most likely a lock to be on the squad.
Tyson Chandler: There were rumors the reigning Defensive Player of the Year was contemplating surgery on a troublesome wrist, but Chandler decided against it and is solely focused on playing a key role for Team USA. Without Dwight Howard, Chandler is the only defensive-minded big man on the roster, something that will most likely earn him a starting role and major minutes in London.
Kevin Durant: Yet another Team USA member that will most likely have to weigh his health status after his playoff run concludes. But given his youth and the fact he was the go-to guy for the 2010 FIBA World Championship squad, it would be a major shock if Durant wasn't on the roster.
Rudy Gay: Rest and health are no issue for Gay after seeing his Grizzlies team bow out in the first round to the Clippers. His biggest deterrent to a spot in the top 12 is most likely the health and participation of everyone else.
Eric Gordon: Gordon has been battling knee issues for the better part of the past year. The Hornets let him come back for one game in January only to be shut him down again until a handful of games in April. It's not entirely clear where his health is at and that uncertain status also ties into the fact that Gordon is set to become a restricted free agent this off-season. Re-injuring the knee playing for Team USA could cost Gordon millions in future earnings so it will be interesting to see if that factors into his participation this summer.
Blake Griffin: Griffin has dealt with a nagging knee sprain of late, but his participation in the playoffs has now come to a close. Griffin should have enough time to rest up and get healthy before training camp opens in early July. The question for Griffin, outside of health, is how well his unrefined game translates to a much less open international style of play.
Dwight Howard: Howard's recent back surgery will relegate him to spectators like the rest of us as Team USA heads to London. His size and defensive ability will definitely be missed.
Andre Iguodala: Iguodala, despite being less heralded than other names on this roster, should have a spot locked up should his health status allow him to participate. An unselfish player and devastating perimeter defender, Iguodala will fit nicely into this roster under the role of "glue guy."
LeBron James: As long as the best player in the world and reigning MVP is healthy and wants to play, there will be spot in London for him. James took quite a bit from his last go-round with Team USA so it would be rather unexpected if he begged off no matter how long his playoff run lasts.
Kevin Love: Love is one of a handful of players whose team missed out of the playoffs and should be plenty rested come July. Of all the big men on the roster, Love’s game is the best fit for the international style of play. Expect him to see major minutes in Team's USA’s quest for gold.
Lamar Odom(?): Odom is coming off a total circus of a season in Dallas. Personal tragedy and a pre-season move from L.A. to Dallas sent him spiraling into a less than agreeable employee for Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. However, if Odom is ready to concentrate on basketball again, his value as a versatile big man was proven during the team's gold-medal-winning performance at the 2010 FIBA World Championships.
While Odom's implosion this season makes it seem like he could never be a serious candidate, the uber-talented Rob Mahony of TheBleacherReport and the TwoManGame has a very interesting perspective that make you think otherwise:
"There's another factor at work that I don't think should be discounted. USA Basketball very much cherishes its reputation as a summer camp of sorts for the best American players. This is where Carmelo Anthony goes to (supposedly) improve his defense. This is where LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh conspire to team up. This is where Kobe Bryant instills work ethic in you, Jason Kidd's leadership rubs off on everyone, etc. Just spinning conjecture, but I'd suppose that Krzyzewski and Colangelo would somewhat welcome the challenge of being able to turn around the trajectory of a guy like Odom. If Lamar could make the team, have a good run, and be back to his old ways in the NBA this year, the program would look very, very good."
How all this factors into Odom's candidacy remains a mystery that will have to be solved during training camp and exhibitions this July.
Chris Paul: As a teammate of Griffin, Paul's season is now over. He has been dealing with a nagging groin injury and the severity of that injury will most likely determine his status for Team USA. If it's just a simple strain, there should be enough recovery time to have him at 100 percent come training camp.
Derrick Rose: Rose's ACL tear will have him missing not only the Olympics, but a huge portion of the 2012-2013 NBA season.
Dwyane Wade: Wade has been non-committal on his involvement with Team USA this summer. He, like Kobe, will have to see how an aging and beat-up body feels when training camp rolls around.
Russell Westbrook: Westbrook, like Durant, will be weighing his health status after the Thunder's postseason run concludes.
Deron Williams: The Nets' missing the playoffs has given Williams plenty of time to rest, but the veteran guard is going into the off-season as an unrestricted free agent. With max contract dollars hanging in the balance, there could be issues with his involvement in USA Basketball. However, if Williams signs quickly, he should be a lock for the roster.
James Harden: Added late to the pool (along with Anthony Davis) due to the injury problems, Harden brings a unique element to the group. His ability to run the pick-and-roll, spread the floor and be a playmaker could make him a darkhorse candidate for one of the final roster spots.
Anthony Davis: As a potential superstar, Davis was included mostly about to ensure his participation in the future. He has virtually no chance of making the roster, but the camp will certainly be a tremendous learning experience for him.
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