Jefferson, a member of the U.S. team that qualified for the
Olympics at a tournament in Puerto Rico last summer, said Sunday he
has been given every indication that he has been chosen for the team.
Jefferson got the news from Nets president Rod Thorn, a member
of the USA Basketball selection committee.
"They had a meeting a couple days ago, and Rod told me,
'Richard, I'm pretty sure you're going to be on the team,'"
USA Basketball spokesman Craig Miller said no roster
announcements have been scheduled.
Kidd, one of nine players already guaranteed spots on the U.S.
roster, said he is undecided about playing. Hampered by a bone
bruise in his left knee, Kidd had missed 10 of 12 games before
starting Sunday against Philadelphia.
"If I can't play, I can't go," said Kidd, whose withdrawal
would leave Mike Bibby as the only true point guard on the roster.
The USA Basketball selection committee already has extended
invitations to Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett. The American
roster includes Kidd, Bibby, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Tim
Duncan, Jermaine O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone and Ray Allen.
Larry Brown is the coach.
Several players, including Kidd, Malone, Allen and Jermaine
O'Neal, have expressed serious concerns about security at the
Olympics, which begin in mid-August.
The American team will open training camp in late July before
traveling to Germany, Serbia and Turkey for exhibitions. They will
be housed aboard a cruise ship during the Aug. 13-29 Olympics.
"Terrorism hit here in New York. I was here on 9-11," said
Jefferson, who witnessed the collapse of the twin towers of the
World Trade Center from the New Jersey side of the Hudson River.
"You're really not safe anywhere, you just have to believe in the
security and believe they're going to have the best possible
situation for us."
Another member of the Nets, All-Star Kenyon Martin, also played
for the U.S. team that qualified last summer -- though Martin (a
last-minute addition to the team after Malone withdrew following
the death of his mother) was not guaranteed a spot on the Athens
roster. He left the room Sunday when reporters began questioning
Jefferson about the Olympics.
Other players on the U.S. roster in Puerto Rico who were not
guaranteed Olympic roster spots include Elton Brand and Carter.
Jefferson fills a hole for the U.S. team by providing a backup
to McGrady at small forward. Jefferson, his role increased because
of Kidd's and Martin's injuries, has averaged 23 points over the
Nets' last 10 games.
"You can really tell the past two months with the way I've been
playing how valuable that experience was," Jefferson said of
playing for the U.S. team last summer. "Being around those
players, that kind of greatness, it helped my game a whole lot
hanging around them, seeing their work ethic and seeing the things
the way they see them."