Team USA resumes with drama, questions

VIDEO: Recapping TEAM USA’s first scrimmage

CHICAGO – Cliffhangers are supposed to come later, when Team USA is up a few or down a few points late in a tense 2014 FIBA World Cup game over in Spain. Or when the final roster cutdowns have to be made, shrinking the current list of 16 players to 12.

Instead, uncertainty and nail-biting already abound as the U.S. men’s team resumes its workout and tune-up schedule this week. The roster, the risks, the style of play and the eventual matchups that Team USA will pose – and face – going forward in the tournament all hang heavy as questions still in search of answers.

Among them:

No George, no Durant – When last we left the assemblage of basketball talent, coach Mike Krzyzewski and poobah Jerry Colangelo at the USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas, most everyone’s eyes were glazed over and their minds were elsewhere after the gruesome right-leg fractures suffered by Paul George, the Indiana Pacers’ star wing player, deep into the public intra-squad scrimmage. Six days later, Kevin Durant – the NBA’s 2014 Most Valuable Player and Team USA’s most potent scorer – withdrew from participation, citing extreme physical and mental fatigue. Durant, a four-time NBA scoring champion, led the U.S. squad to a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics with 19.5 ppg and carried the 2010 World Championship team by averaging 22.8 while no teammate averaged more than 9.8. George, after playing two years ago for the Select Team, figured to step up as a scorer this summer to help Durant.

Risk debate rekindled – Derrick Rose‘s strong showing in Las Vegas two weeks ago has whet appetites of Chicago Bulls fans, who are eager to see or at least hear about his continuing progress at practice Thursday and Friday and in the exhibition game against Brazil Saturday night at United Center. But seeing George wheeled off on a stretcher to face surgery and a year of rehab, with Rose on the scene, hit close to home for many of them. Last November, Rose – who was coming back from left-knee ACL surgery that cost him the entire 2012-13 season – tore meniscus cartilage in his right in his 10th game for Chicago. But at least that was for Chicago. George’s injury sparked anew the debate over NBA involvement in the international competition and the health/financial risks shouldered by the league’s owners and their players. Dallas’ Mark Cuban again spoke (and Tweeted) out, while Durant’s ill-timed withdrawal seemed to some like an obvious case of a valuable property seeking cover. And yet, the show goes on, continuing to New York next week for exhibitions against the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico at Madison Square Garden.

Going small – It’s not only Durant’s scoring prowess that might be missed. His length will be absent, too, just like Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. That could be an issue if Team USA winds up facing Spain and the Gasol brothers, Pau and Marc, with the championship at stake. Heck, it could be a problem Saturday against Brazil – that squad’s big men all are proven NBA hard cases: Tiago Splitter, Nene and Anderson Varejao. Sacramento forward Rudy Gay (6-foot-8, 230 pounds) has been added to the roster for now and could find himself having to play bigger than he’s accustomed to, as could Dallas’ Chandler Parsons (6-9, 200). Team USA’s size, at the moment, starts with Anthony Davis, then drops off from there with DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, Mason Plumlee and Kenneth Faried (with one of them expected to be cut).

Unkind cuts elsewhere – There are four point guards among the current 16 – Rose, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard – but it’s no lock that any of them gets cut because Curry, Lillard and even Rose could slot over to for minutes at shooting guard. The wings include DeMar DeRozan, James Harden, Gordon Hayward, Kyle Korver and Klay Thompson, along with Gay and Parsons. So there will be guessing games aplenty about both the final cuts and the likely starting lineup, stirred up as soon as Thursday by the combinations of players used in the end-of-practice scrimmages.


  1. Jarred Douglas says:

    Team USA Starters
    Steph Curry
    James Harden
    Anthony Davis
    Dre Drummond

    Kyrie Irving
    Klay Thompson
    Rudy Gay
    Kenneth Faried
    DeMarcus Cousins
    Chandler Parsons
    Gordan Hayward/Dame Lil

    They’ll def. have a ton of trouble handling Spain inside but their guard play will be unmatched.

  2. Kevin says:

    Think Gay, Drummond, and Parsons make sense as cuts.

  3. mike jordan says:

    parker and ginnobili are the ones who confirmed they will not play, but pau gasol?..with that strong lineup for spain, he will definitely fight for the title..also, pau and mark can shoot jumpers, which could dismantle the defense of usa..probably davis goes far out the paint..and penetrators like Rubio can manage the inside offense..spain and Lithuania

  4. Anton says:

    Team Usa:
    C- Cousins, Drummond
    PF- Davis, Faried
    SF- Gay, Parsons
    SG- Curry, lillard
    PG- Rose, Irving

    Maybe Thompson too

  5. pogi says:

    Probable U.S team rosters:

    C – Cousins, Plumlee
    PF – Davies, Faried
    SF – Gay, Parson
    SG- Thomposon, Korver
    PG – Rose, Lillard, Irving and Curry

    Opted to bring another big player (Plumlee) than a wing player just in case the regular big men gets into foul trouble. We can always switch Curry to play off the ball and Irving as the point guard.

  6. Kirby Record says:

    We still have a good shot to win it all but anyone who thinks it will be easy is in dreamland. We had several tough fights last time with Durant, and James. This team is not close to that one. It will be tough against a team with strong inside players, who low how to play together.

  7. Swissy says:

    Bring back the 92 dream team !

  8. Learbal says:

    It’s actually Mason Plumlee…

  9. karka says:

    USA still will win easily. US has 7 all-stars while Spain has only 2 and other teams even less! Americans are more talented and faster than all the other teams. Also, remember that USA will play in weak group C and group D is not very impressive too. USA will not have to play against very strong opponents until finals. And even when it is highly possible that Spain won’t get into the finals.

  10. I jus hope the games are officiated with no biased intent..favorable calls are always seen through out basketball and I hop they avoid the same in international play since it’s the ” US”

  11. kodeltaip says:

    USA should cut Andre Drummond, Miles Plumlee, Gordon Hayward and rose.
    Why rose because he just came back from a major injury even tough he has the most experience playing European basketball of all the points left Stephen Curry has international experience to.Derrick rose should sit this one out and wait for the NBA to start. Team USA still has point guards without rose for me they could put Lillard to the point or Curry of course both can play in the 2 position also and these two players wont crack under pressure.

    Chicago fan !!!

    • lbj says:

      Derrick Rose will not win any NBA championships by getting cut from Team USA. He needs to go to Cleveland and join King Lebron.

      We at Cleveland will give Chicago the epitome of discipline and professionalism, Dion Waiters, and Mr. Unlimited Potential, Anthony Bennett, in exchange for Rose. As a bonus, we’ll even include future Hall of Famers Matthew Dellavedova and Joe Harris!

  12. HappinessInside says:

    You all seem to be forgetting Lithuania as a huge threat too. They will bring VERY talented and strong team, perhaps even more balanced than Spain. I would say they will definitely fight for the championship title. And there is a great chance to meet them in the semis or even quarter-finals.

  13. Spurs Fan says:

    ! Go Spurs Go !

  14. USA LOSER says:

    Sure Lose on USA. Hellas will defeat them again. Greece vs Spain in the FIBA World Finals 🙂

  15. Matthew says:

    I think now with Paul George’s injury and Kevin Durant’s withdrawal, this team USA will be nothing like the one in the 2012 Olympics in London. Only Derrick Rose was left to carry the team and I think it’s too much weight on his shoulders especially with his unstable career full of injuries and the fact that he just finished rehabilitating from his last meniscus tore.

    Kevin Durant realized that and that’s why he probably chose to withdraw from the team, and I’m sure Paul George’s injury definitely got a lot of players to think whether they’re willing to go through all of that and the risk that is involved in playing for the national team.

  16. Zach WIlliams says:

    I would cut Cousins, Drummond, Korver and D Rozan.

    • lbj2.0 says:

      you don’t know anything about basketball obviously… wow

    • The all knowing and I think you got it says:

      Oh sure, lets just cut cousins, the best big man on the team,,, Great move, Move over Jerry and Coach K, there is a new sheriff in town

  17. harriethehawk says:

    Even though Kevin Durant bailed out, I’m still interested!

  18. I boldly predict that Brazil beats Spain in the Semifinals in overtime.

  19. I believe Pau Gasol already confirmed that he would not be playing in the World games this summer.

    Demarcus Cousins would equal any size of any other team and with Anthony Davis should definitely cover the interior.

    Bringing in Rudy Gay to play the 4 gives them another matchup nightmare with his ability to post up smaller opponents or attack them off the dribble and in transition.

    You’ll see a lot of wings posting up as other wings stand 3-4 inches shorter than ours while stretching out opposing big men. With guards on constant attack mode and shooters galore Team USA should be just fine.

    • Pau is definitely playing for Spain….you may have confused him with Tony Parker.

    • Jules says:

      With all due rsepect mate,there will be no match up poblems for european and south american teams mate,the only advantage that we have is the fast and furious guards that we have right now,our bigs are slow and i do hope that they can match up well to those 3 point shooting centers that they usually use when playing against team USA

    • LIM says:

      Pau Gasol withdrawing from Spanish team? I find it unbelievable if he really decide to give up on a chance to win a FIBA world cup in his homeland. Well, unless there is any injury issue but I don’t think there is any as he played with the Spanish team against Canada few days ago. I still see the Spanish as the biggest threat to USA especially with their sizes (Pau, Marc, Ibaka, Claver and Reyes).