Who will be on Team USA for 2012 London Olympics?

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Mike Krzyzewski — head coach of Team USA — has some brutal choices ahead of him next summer.

Team USA is in the 2012 London Olympics and will come in the heavy favorite, but there are some other very good teams out there that could push the USA — Spain and Argentina come to mind, veteran squads with plenty of NBA-level talent.

So who will make up the 12 man USA roster for London?

First, there are the guys who won gold in 2008 and should be given spots now: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh. (I know a bunch of you just shook your head at Bosh, but there are few bigs as skilled as him and his more finesse game works well in international ball).

That’s eight of the 12 spots.

Kevin Durant, after leading Team USA to the gold at the FIBA World Championships gets a spot for sure. So just three seats left.

Chris Sheridan (former AP and ESPN writer) makes an interesting point at his site.

You can also set aside a spot for Blake Griffin, who has been described to SheridanHoops.com by people in the know as a shoo-in for the London 2012 roster.

That’s 10 of the 12. And for you counting at home, there are two point guards, two shooting guards, three small forwards, two power forwards and one center on the list (although it is more flexible than that, someone like LeBron or Durant can play the two, three or four spot depending on the lineup, and LeBron and ‘Melo were often used at the four in 2008).

Sheridan makes another good point — the USA needs to bring a bigger team to London than they did Beijing. The reason is Spain, the USA’s most serious competition for the gold, which has gotten bigger and better since 2008. Spain still has Pau Gasol, but his brother Marc had not even played in the NBA in 2008 but now is both improved and makes a fantastic high-low combination with his brother. Spain also now brings Serge Ibaka off the bench for help and they may have recent Rockets draft pick s Nikola Mirotic, who is 6’10”. They have size.

Sheridan says based on their play at the World Championships, Lamar Odom and Kevin Love have to be the candidates for another big spot. Love brings rebounding, outlet passes and can stretch the floor with his shooting, but his defense has been an issue. Odom can do just about anything, his game is very versatile.

So you pick one of them. That’s 11.

Now for the 12th spot do you go with another big — maybe Tyson Chandler, but Amar’e Stoudemire and LaMarcus Aldridge are considerations — or do you go with speed and Derrick Rose? It’s hard to leave Rose off the team, but do you put him on in place of Deron Williams to so you can go with size or do you bring three quality point guards and try to run teams into the ground? If you are going to go with speed, Russell Westbrook has to be considered as well.

There are no easy choices for Mike Krzyzewski next summer. There is plenty of talent to choose from, but what really matters is fit. That has to be the key.

Phil Jackson to miss Kobe Bryant’s jersey retirement Monday

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For one last night, Staples Center will belong to Kobe Bryant on Monday.

Sure, the Warriors are in town to take on the Lakers, but Monday night the Lakers are retiring Kobe Bryant’s numbers — both 8 and 24 — in a halftime ceremony. It’s been the hottest ticket in Los Angeles, with celebrities, luminaries, and regular Lakers fans shelling out a lot of cash to see the Laker legend be honored.

Except, Phil Jackson will not be there, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

Jackson has been in touch with Bryant in advance of the ceremony to congratulate him, sources said. But he was unable to travel from his Montana home for the ceremony in Los Angeles.

No reason was given (nor does one need to be made public, that’s between Kobe and Jackson).

Jackson coached Kobe to all five of his NBA titles, and while their relationship had its ups and downs — remember Jackson called out Kobe as almost uncoachable in one of his books — they remain close.

 

Three Things to Know: LeBron James racks up third straight triple-double

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA. Here’s what you missed on Sunday while practicing your ax throwing in Paris

1) LeBron James has third straight triple-double… and sends equality message. Back in the 2008-09 season, LeBron James strung together three consecutive games of triple-doubles, the season he went on to win his first MVP award. Despite 61 career triple-doubles, he hasn’t had a string like that since.

Until now. LeBron put together three again this week, the most recent coming at the expense of the Washington Wizards on Sunday, a team that had no answer for his playmaking skills. James finished the game with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists. It wasn’t the most efficient LeBron scoring performance of his career (8-of-23 shooting overall, 2-of-7 from three, his legs looked a little tired on the back-to-back) and he was playing too much in isolation (nearly twice as many possessions as in pick-and-roll). However, down the stretch he was a fantastic playmaker, finding teammates — such as finding the cutting Jeff Green and Kyle Korver — and doing what it took to lift his team to the 106-99 win (Cleveland’s has won five straight and 18-of-19).

LeBron was also sending a message while playing in our nation’s capital: He wore one black and one white of the LeBron 15s, with the word “Equality” on the back of both of them. Good on LeBron, I love that he has found a voice and is comfortable using it.

2) Cavaliers sticking to plan even if he seems ready: Isaiah Thomas should join Cavaliers after the first of the year. Patience. It’s a virtue. Cleveland’s end game is to have another elite playmaker and scorer on the floor in late May and (hopefully) June, not for Christmas Day (no matter who is on the schedule).

Meaning that despite the face Isaiah Thomas is working out and says he and his injured hip feel ready to return, it will be 2018 before he officially pulls on a Cavaliers jersey and takes the court.

This is the smart play by the Cavaliers, who have racked up enough wins not to need to push him. That said, LeBron is carrying a heavy load — he’s played more minutes than anyone in the league so far, and this is his 15th NBA season — and the Cavaliers need to get him some help and rest so he is fresh for the postseason.

3) Detroit ties a franchise record with 17 made threes in win over Orlando. The Pistons are not exactly a great three-point shooting team: They average a middle-of-the-pack 29.3 attempts per game (31.6 percent of their attempts), but at least hit them at a healthy 38.3 percent clip. Detroit does a good job at least of getting corner threes up and knocking them down.

Sunday they were knocking everything down, hitting 17-of-34 threes to tie a franchise record for the most made threes in a game. Anthony Tolliver led the way (5-of-7 from deep) with Reggie Bullock pitching in 4-of-5.

The Pistons have snapped out of their seven-game losing streak to win three in a row now, including a quality win over the Pacers on the second night of a back-to-back.

Heat forward James Johnson expected to miss 7 to 10 days

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MIAMI (AP) The Miami Heat will be without starting forward James Johnson for at least two games and probably more after bursitis was found in his right ankle.

Johnson left Miami’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday with ankle pain, and an MRI performed Sunday led to the bursitis diagnosis. Johnson is not traveling with the team for its trip for games at Atlanta on Monday and Boston on Wednesday.

The team says Johnson could miss seven to 10 days, which would also mean his status for home games against Dallas on Dec. 22, New Orleans on Dec. 23 and Orlando on Dec. 26 is in some doubt.

Johnson is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds for the Heat this season.

LeBron James wears one black, one white LeBron 15 shoes with “Equality” on back (VIDEO)

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LeBron James notched his third-straight triple-double on Sunday, this one coming against the Washington Wizards. But before the game, the story was all about how James was voicing a silent protest — in Washington D.C., no less — by wearing a special version of his shoes.

LeBron took to the floor wearing his LeBron 15s, but this player edition had the word “Equality” on the back of them. James wore one black shoe and one white shoe.

James wore the black versions of this shoe in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ opener to start the season.

Via Twitter:

LeBron finished the game with 20 points, 15 assists, and 12 rebounds. The Cavaliers beat the Wizards, 106-99.