Griffin, Aldridge candidates for US team
NEW YORK (AP)
The US national team on Monday added Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers to the 18 holdovers who hope to go for more basketball gold.
Team USA officials announced a 20-player pool, a list from which the 12-man roster will be chosen in June for the London Olympics.
Other than the two newcomers, the remaining players all represented the Americans at either the 2008 Olympics or 2010 world championship and have said they wish to be considered again.
Returning from the team that won gold in Beijing are Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Back from the reigning world champions are Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Tyson Chandler, Eric Gordon, Rudy Gay, Kevin Love, Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups, Russell Westbrook and Andre Iguodala.
Colangelo had planned to add Griffin to the national team roster in 2009, but the fan favorite was injured shortly after being selected with the No. 1 overall pick and those plans were scrapped. Aldridge was on the national team roster but withdrew from consideration for the 2010 worlds for personal reasons.
But both have an opportunity now if the Americans decide to bolster the frontcourt on a roster loaded with point guards and wing players.
The final roster of 12 players and six alternates is due June 18, before the NBA Finals will be completed in this lockout-delayed season, so there will be no time for a tryout camp. But USA Basketball needed to submit the list of all candidates by the end of this month so the players could be entered in the drug-testing program.
The Americans must decide how many point guards to keep from a list that includes Rose, the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player, Paul, Williams, Westbrook and Billups. (Billups started at shooting guard in Istanbul, as he does now playing alongside Paul for the Clippers.)
Size could be a consideration for a potential matchup against a Spain team that boasts Pau and Marc Gasol, along with Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka, which could help the two newcomers.
No matter which players are picked, the Americans will have the unmatched athleticism that allowed them to end an eight-year Olympic gold-medal drought in Beijing and a 16-year absence from the gold-medal podium in the world championship two years ago.
Colangelo assembled the original national team roster in 2005 after taking control of the USA Basketball program following the Americans' poor performance a year earlier in Athens, where they managed only a bronze medal. That group committed to representing the Americans for three years, but then all the players and the entire coaching staff signed on for a return after winning gold in 2008.
None of those players competed in 2010, but the Americans won anyway with a young team led by Durant, the MVP of the world championship. Colangelo then combined the best of both rosters for the new pool.
Only Jason Kidd, who retired from international competition after a long career, Carlos Boozer, Tayshaun Prince and Michael Redd weren't chosen from the 2008 team.
Stephen Curry and Danny Granger aren't back from '10.