There will be no formal tryouts for Team USA heading into the Rio Olympics this summer.
This isn’t new news, USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo said this before. But he reiterated it to Marc Stein of ESPN Wednesday. Rather than bring 15-20 players to a training camp in Las Vegas then have to make cuts to get to 12, this time around USA Basketball is just going to select the 12 and announce it. Then that dozen will come to Las Vegas in July for a training camp before a series of exhibitions in cities around the USA; then everyone heads to Brazil and the games that start Aug. 5 (basketball tips off Aug. 6).
It would be more accurate to say that the tryouts for Team USA are going on right now as the NBA season winds down. Colangelo said he thinks a lot about what the roster makeup should be.
“I play that game in my own mind almost every day. And it changes every other day in my mind. We’ve got so many great players and they all want to participate. We may be in for a surprise or two at the end of the day, where someone is not going to make themselves available, but because of the depth on this roster, we could take a few hits and still be in great shape.
“So I’m just keeping all my options open. And I’m interested always to hear other people’s opinions, but you can trust me: I’ll make the final decision based on what I think is right for us in conjunction with Coach K and our staff … what’s the best 12 to put us in the best position to be successful? And I’ll go right back to something we said many years ago. It’s not an All-Star team. It’s: ‘Let’s put a group together that puts us in this best position to win.’ “
Of course, Coach Mike Krzyzewski will have a heavy hand in the roster decision. Some of that roster makeup comes down to who is available. For example, LeBron James has said he doesn’t know if he will play this summer. If the Cavaliers make the NBA Finals that will be six consecutive seasons James will have played into June, he may want to rest his body in July and August. Other players also will have similar decisions to make. We do know that Carmelo Anthony wants in, and that Kobe Bryant will sit this one out.
One other interesting note from Colangelo: After looking at their options, USA Basketball will house its men’s and women’s team on a cruise ship docked in Rio rather than at a hotel in the city.
“We have sent our people [to Rio] on four or five occasions,” Colangelo said. “We have researched everything we could on accommodations. And we made our decision as to what we’re going to do. Bear in mind that, since ’92, [USAB’s] basketball teams haven’t stayed in the Olympic Village. Also bear in mind that basketball is one of only two sports that runs the entire length of the Olympic [Games].
“Because of the high visibility of our athletes, we’re better served by [going] above and beyond what the Olympic people provide for us in the way of security and so forth. We do our own things to make sure we’ve protected our people. There’s a big investment here that we’ll have in Rio. … We will not be in the Village, but our players will be in there a lot, like they have been in the last two Olympics.”