<
>

Rip not sure ... Odom on board

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- USA Basketball expects Detroit's Rip Hamilton and Miami's Lamar Odom to fill the final two vacancies on its ever-changing Olympic roster, ESPN.com has learned.

Sources close to Odom told ESPN.com he will accept the invitation. Hamilton, however, has hinted at concerns about security in Athens and said he will delay his decision until after the NBA Finals.

If Hamilton declines, USAB officials are expected to turn to Milwaukee's Michael Redd ... not Denver's Carmelo Anthony, sources told ESPN.com.

USA Basketball tentatively plans to complete paperwork on its five outstanding invitations by the end of the week. Detroit's Ben Wallace, Cleveland's Carlos Boozer and Miami's Dwyane Wade already have informed the committee that they will accept their recent invites and confirm their participation by completing the necessary documents.

Team USA coach Larry Brown, while guiding the Pistons to the NBA Finals, has openly lobbied for the selection of a proven perimeter shooter like Hamilton or Redd.

San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Philadelphia's Allen Iverson are the only original members from Team USA's "core" group of nine players who kept their roster spots. Before Wallace, Boozer and Wade verbally accepted, five players were officially named in the first wave of replacements: Cleveland's LeBron James, New York's Stephon Marbury, New Jersey's Richard Jefferson and the Phoenix duo of Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire.

Marbury is the only recognized point guard in that group, but Odom will join James, Iverson and Wade in a group of combo guards who can handle the ball.

Committee sources said that, despite the loud displeasure voiced last week by Anthony, its position on the Denver rookie hasn't changed. USAB officials fear there would be little playing time available for Anthony with James, Jefferson and Marion essentially playing the same position. Odom and Wade were preferred, sources said, because of their ballhandling abilities.

Sacramento's Mike Bibby, Orlando's Tracy McGrady, Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal and the L.A. Lakers' Karl Malone are "core" members of the original roster who have formally pulled out this month for various reasons, be it injury or security fears or simply a desire for offseason rest.

The Lakers' Kobe Bryant, New Jersey's Jason Kidd and Seattle's Ray Allen were earlier withdrawals from the core group, which was assembled during the 2002-03 season in hopes of establishing continuity before heading to Athens.

The Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal, Minnesota's Kevin Garnett, Toronto's Vince Carter, New Jersey's Kenyon Martin and the L.A. Clippers' Elton Brand also have declined invitations, with reasons ranging from injuries (Kidd and Brand) to weddings (Garnett and Carter) to childbirth (Allen).

Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here. Also, click here to send a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.