Team USA starts prepping in Las Vegas
Time to start choosing their replacements.
While its recent mainstays take the summer off, the United States gets back to work Tuesday in Las Vegas, opening training camp for the players competing for a chance to play in the world championships.
"I think everyone is antsy to get going again. It'll be fun because we've got a bunch of young guys who are very hungry and it's a different group," USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said. "It's challenging, but it's also exciting. That's the way we choose to look at it."
The new-look team still has plenty of talent, including NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant, perennial All-Star Chauncey Billups, and Lamar Odom and Rajon Rondo, last seen on the court in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Amare Stoudemire's availability was thrown into doubt Monday night after questions were raised about whether his contract with the New York Knicks could be insured to allow him to play in a FIBA competition, sources told ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan.
Stoudemire underwent knee and eye surgeries while playing for the Phoenix Suns, but it was believed he was fully recovered from both conditions.
But the company that insures Knicks players' contracts communicated its doubts, and it now appears Stoudemire will be unavailable for Team USA.
Further details on Stoudemire's status were expected to be disclosed Tuesday.
The camp roster includes 21 players who will practice through Friday, working some of the time against a group of 20 college seniors. The week ends with an intrasquad game Saturday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The roster could be trimmed before the team reconvenes next month in New York to continue its training before leaving for Europe. The world championships run Aug. 28 to Sept. 12 in Turkey.
Colangelo won't make any predictions about the final roster, saying the team is "just wide open as to what our plan is." Durant is considered a lock, though, having nearly made the team that played in the 2007 Olympic qualifier before he played his first NBA game.
There were no such questions about the roster the last time the Americans played. Most of the team had been together three years before it won gold in the 2008 Olympics, and the core of that team committed early last year to return for another run.
But it wasn't long before talk of free agency put the status of Miami's new trio in jeopardy. Those who aren't under contract don't take a chance playing in the summer, and although James, Wade and Bosh have signed their deals, it was obvious they wouldn't be taking part.
"That all took its toll. Everything centered around free agency, certainly took the focus away from the world championships. We definitely have our share of guys who couldn't participate anyway," Colangelo said, citing injuries to Bryant, Paul, Deron Williams and Tayshaun Prince.
Carmelo Anthony was just married, and Colangelo said other players just wanted some time off, so he decided all of them could have a pass without jeopardizing their status in the program, calling it "no harm, no foul."
"All we do is focus on the world championships with excitement about this group, outstanding young players to go with some veterans," Colangelo said.
Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching staff of Jim Boeheim, Mike D'Antoni and Nate McMillan are back, and they'll have some familiar faces in camp.
Billups and Tyson Chandler were on the U.S. team that went undefeated in the FIBA Americas tournament three years ago, and a number of players who will be in camp took part in a minicamp last summer.
Krzyzewski and Colangelo both have said the current national team roster is better than the original one that was picked in 2006. The Americans couldn't handle all of their withdrawals that year and finished third in the world championships.
This time, they believe the pieces are in place to win the tournament for the first time since 1994. Otherwise, they would have to qualify for the Olympics next summer -- with the potential of a lockout, and that means they'd have to do it without any NBA players.
"We feel comfortable with what we have," Colangelo said. "Let's just get the job done this summer."
Information from ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan and The Associated Press was used in this report.
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