Could ‘Melo’s role with D’Antoni cost him a spot on Team USA?

20 Comments

Mike Krzyzewski and the coaches of Team USA have some very tough decisions ahead of them as they trim the list of 20 candidates down to 12 who get to suit up in London this summer for the Olympics.

Look at the power forward spot. You only really need three and the guys on that finals list include Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Carmelo Anthony. (Yes in the NBA ‘Melo is a three, but in international ball where you need a stretch four he plays mostly in that spot.)

One of the guys getting input on those cuts — Mike D’Antoni. The deposed Knicks coach. Anthony didn’t go to Knicks management and say “fire this guy” but his clashes and effort made it clear one of them had to go. And the elite players always beat the coach in the power struggle. Always. Then Anthony has admitted he is trying harder for D’Antoni’s replacement Mike Woodson.

But with Team USA D’Antoni has more power and putting together a team that fits well matters. Ken Berger of CBSSports.com spoke with an international basketball source about this very issue.

Among the greatest honors and marketing opportunities NBA stars have is to play with Team USA in the Olympics, and a person with ties to international basketball told CBSSports.com that Anthony’s role in D’Antoni’s demise — however unintended — did not sit well with USA Basketball authorities. D’Antoni, of course, is an assistant coach with Team USA. Anthony is by no means a coach killer, but his hold on a prominent role with the team in the London Olympics could be jeopardized by how his body of work with the Knicks is viewed by Team USA officials….

“I don’t even think Carmelo is thinking about this, but I think it’s going to hurt him,” the international basketball source said. “I don’t think he’s playing as well as the other power forwards are right now. He’s not a bad guy, but he needs to start playing better because the USA team is looking at that, and Mike is an assistant. It should not be given to him.”

I think in the end Anthony is there in London, and not just because Nike wants it. Although that helps. But ‘Melo’s game fits very well in international ball — he may have been Team USA’s third best player in Beijing four years ago. He can play inside and out and — with team USA — has been great about molding his game into the team concept.

If Team USA really is about winning, they need to bring Anthony. (Of that group listed above I’d leave Griffin home because his jumper is not nearly as steady as the other three.) But if they don’t the drop-off is not that steep.