With the 2010 World Championships in Turkey a little more than a month away, Team USA trimmed their roster from 19 to 15 today
after a four day mini-camp in Las Vegas. Tyreke Evans, OJ Mayo, Gerald Wallace and JaVale McGee were cut and three more players will be dismissed before Team USA turns in their 12-man roster before the start of the competition.
None of the players who took won gold during the 2008 Beijing Olympics signed on to play this summer in Turkey, so the Team USA coaching staff, which of course includes our own Nate McMillan, has had to start from scratch. To make matters worse, many of the players who would have been shoe-ins to make the World Championships roster have had to turn down the invitation for one reason or another.
"We're doing good," said McMillan of Team USA. "There's been a lot of injuries though with the national team. I'm sitting there listening to Coach K and having to make changes and adjustments to the roster because we lost Amar'e (Stoudemire)to an insurance policy, David Lee to an injury, Robin Lopez to an insurance issue. A lot of guys, due to illness and contracts, didn't show up, but we're going to have a good team."
There's more than enough willing talent among the American's playing in the NBA to field a world-class team at any time, but having so much roster uncertainty a month away from the competition has lead to an unbalanced roster in terms of positions. Team USA is still stacked at guard and wing with the likes of Rajon Rondo, Derek Rose, Kevin Durant and Andre Igoudala, but when it comes to bigs, the red, white and blue are a bit short.
Kevin Love is the only player of the 15 remaining who one would consider a stereotypical power forward, though Lamar Odom and Jeff Green are suited to play the four in international competition. But the news is even worse when it comes to center, with Tyson Chandler and Brook Lopez being the USA's only options at the five, and it's debatable how healthy either is at this point. Chandler has insisted the foot and ankle problems that forced him to miss 29 games last season are no longer an issue
, but it's hard to rely on someone who has played in just 96 games over the past two seasons. Lopez's health is even a bigger question mark. He reportedly lost 20 points thanks to a bout of mono
(and he looks it in the above photo), so whether he'll be fully recovered and conditioned by time the World Championships roll around is an unknown.
Heading to the Turkey with only two centers might not be ideal, but it's also not the end of the world. Because of various rules differences between the NBA and international games, the center position isn't nearly as important in international competition (not to mention guys like Durant and Odom are pushing 7-0 anyway) but the lack of bigs on the Team USA bench is going to force McMillan and the rest of the coaching staff to employ a different style of play than we saw during the Olympics.
"We're going to be small," said McMillan. "We're going to have a team we feel we can win with; it's just going to be a change in the style of play. We're going to be really small, but we're going to be fast
. Our goal is to trap, press, speed up the tempo and qualify this summer."