That won’t be the only NBA news of the day.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told ESPN.com that team officials, after initially weighing the prospect of announcing some roster moves before Thursday’s practice, will huddle late into the night after Friday evening’s exhibition against Puerto Rico at Madison Square Garden to finalize the roster decisions that can be delayed no longer.
The players who aren’t selected will be notified of their fates Saturday morning, Colangelo said, with the rest of the traveling party heading directly to Europe on a team charter in the afternoon.
The bad news, as always, will be delivered face-to-face to the unlucky twosome, trio or quartet first by Colangelo, which is a chore he describes as “distasteful” but a step he regards as “my personal responsibility.”
And we say twosome, trio or quartet because Colangelo and Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski are still deciding whether to take 12, 13 or even 14 of the 16 players currently in camp to Spain to buy an extra week of evaluation time, since the roster doesn’t have to be officially sliced to 12 for the World Cup until Aug. 29.
As a reminder, here are the 16 players contending for the final 12 roster spots:
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Stephen Curry
- Anthony Davis
- DeMar DeRozan
- Andre Drummond
- Kenneth Faried
- Rudy Gay
- James Harden
- Gordon Hayward
- Kyrie Irving
- Kyle Korver
- Damian Lillard
- Chandler Parsons
- Mason Plumlee
- Derrick Rose
- Klay Thompson
Curry, Harden, Faried, Davis, Rose and Irving have started exhibition games, so they’re in good shape. Plumlee and Klay Thompson are Mike Krzyzewski favorites, putting both players in good spots.
Beyond those eight, the remaining four spots are up for grabs. I think DeMarcus Cousins has demonstrated enough, and his injury gives Team USA room to pick him and Plumlee for center depth. Gay has USA Basketball experience, and he’s impressed as the carefully chosen Kevin Durant replacement. I also believe Damian Lillard, regardless of Team USA’s fill of NBA point guards, is too talented to keep off the roster.
That leaves Korver, Parsons, Hayward, Drummond and DeRozan for one spot – and that’s the order I’d list their chances. Either Parsons or Hayward could give Team USA another stretch four, but if necessary Gay could handle that job alone. That would allow the luxury of using Korver as a designated shooter. Drummond can’t fall that far out of the mix at center, though I think he ultimately falls short.
Rose’s injury could throw a loop into the equation, but here’s my best guess at the final roster after cuts tomorrow and maybe more later:
- Point guard: Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving
- Shooting guard: Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard
- Small forward: James Harden, Klay Thompson, Kyle Korver
- Power forward: Kenneth Faried, Rudy Gay
- Center: Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, Mason Plumlee