When Dwight Howard went under the knife and sacrificed his summer, the speculation began — who gets his spot on Team USA for the London Olympics this summer?
It pretty much guaranteed that Knicks big man Tyson Chandler is in now. He was on the bubble before, but now he is a must as the United States needs his size and ability to protect the rim. But with a likely gold medal showdown with a big Spanish team — Pau and Marc Gasol plus Serge Ibaka — there was talk of the Team USA getting more size.
Specifically, the Lakers Andrew Bynum. But he told the Los Angeles Times that London is not in his plans, rather the Kobe Bryant knee procedure is.
“I’ve got to take care of my legs in the off-season,” Bynum said Friday. “I’ve got some things planned for my knees…. I’ve got to do some therapy that I’m going overseas to do.”
So now what? Howard is out, LaMarcus Aldridge is likely out due to hip surgery, so who is in on the 12-man roster? Here is my call
Guards: Dwyane Wade, Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant. I would add Russell Westbrook here, but that comes at the expense of adding another big.
Forwards: LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love. Bosh and Love are locks and they can play the five in international ball, where smaller centers who can knock down the outside shot are common. If you do that, you play a lot of Carmelo and LeBron at the four, which again works internationally. The guy on the bubble here is Blake Griffin, who is a freak of nature but with his inconsistent midrange game and 52 percent free throw shooting may not be a fit.
Center: Tyson Chandler. That’s it. Love and Bosh behind him. That’s a risk if Chandler gets in foul trouble. If you want to think about another long defensive stopper, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis could be a guy to look at, but frankly I’d rather add Westbrook as a combo guard and go small more often. The problem there is simply Spain — could the USA lose the Gold because they got pounded in the paint?
To me, if you can’t have Howard or Bynum the quality of big men drops off enough that I’d rather have the guard and just run teams into the ground with our athletes.
But Howard will be missed. Maybe a lot.