Wade, Paul, Howard highlight early names on U.S. roster
Barring a last-moment change of plans, Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade, New Orleans Hornets point guard Chris Paul, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, Detroit Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince and Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Redd are heading to Beijing.
Olympic and NBA sources have confirmed the five will be named to the 12-man Beijing Olympics roster Monday at a news conference in Chicago.
It's what we talked about after getting the bronze, right after getting that medal, and I really want to be part of the team that puts the USA back on top.
-- Dwyane Wade
Wade has been rehabbing since May 5 in Chicago and hosted USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo there for a workout last week. Colangelo came away impressed and apparently convinced that Wade's surgically repaired left knee could hold up to the rigors of the Olympic schedule.
Paul, a 23-year-old point guard, will be playing in his first Olympics. He helped lead Team USA to an 8-1 record and bronze medal at the 2006 FIBA World Championship in Japan.
Howard being named wasn't a big surprise after a report in Thursday's Arizona Republic that Phoenix Suns forward Amare Stoudemire declined an invitation to join the Olympic team. Colangelo told the newspaper that Stoudemire was concerned about pushing his body too hard after knee surgery in 2005 and 2006.
At 6-foot-11, Howard provides an intimidating force around the basket and athletic ability rarely seen in a big man.
The 6-foot-9, 215-pound Prince gives the U.S. team a playoff-tested player who can slow down opponents with his defensive skills. He can also score occasionally with an array of runners and spin moves around the lane.
Redd earned his Olympic spot with a stellar performance last summer in the FIBA Americas tournament in Las Vegas, as the U.S. team qualified for the 2008 Games. Redd came off the bench to average 14.0 points, the fourth-highest mark on the team, and he shot 53 percent from the field, 45.3 percent from 3-point range.
The team will formally begin training in mid-July and is scheduled to start the Olympic series of games Aug. 10 in Beijing. The gold medal game is Aug. 24, the day the games close.
It would be Wade's second Olympics; he was part of the bronze medal-winning squad in Athens in 2004. And his workouts in Chicago the past few weeks have been going on with a gold medal at the forefront of his mind.
"It would mean everything to me," Wade told The Associated Press last month. "It's what we talked about after getting the bronze, right after getting that medal, and I really want to be part of the team that puts the USA back on top."
Several other players have already announced they have been informed of their Olympic spot, including Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd. The Rocky Mountain News reported last week that Denver Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony was also assured an Olympic spot.
Two players likely won't be making the trip to China, though. The News Orleans Times-Picayune reported Hornets center Tyson Chandler was a candidate for the U.S. team, but wasn't selected.
Additionally, Pistons guard Chauncey Billups pulled himself out of consideration for a spot on the U.S. team earlier this week. The All-Star might have had a hard time making the team with the expected logjam at point guard.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.