'Melo bulks up to back his guarantee
Marc Stein's Slams and Dunks, Team USA edition.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Slams and Dunks, Team USA edition:
It's simply how big 'Melo looks.
You'll see for yourself Saturday afternoon when Team USA's exhibition against Puerto Rico airs on ESPN at 1 p.m. Until then, trust us: 'Melo has bulked up nicely thanks to an off-season workout regiment that has taken his poundage into the 230s. He played closer to 220 as a rookie.
Now he looks like he's going to crush smaller defenders, internationally or domestically.
"Ten pounds of muscle," he said proudly.
Which means you can say one more thing to link 'Melo and LeBron James.
Neither one looks under 21.
With a caveat, naturally.
"They called Roy 10 days before -- I want to leave that clear," Smith said of the Lakers. "[Lakers general manager and former Tar Heel] Mitch Kupchak has asked Roy a couple times. Jerry [West] asked me. We're close to [the Lakers]. But [Krzyzewski] belongs in college. I think he will stay [at Duke], and should."
The solace for the Yanks is that Serbia and Montenegro, which figured to be their No. 1 concern, looks like it won't have Peja Stojakovic, Vlade Divac, Zeljko Rebraca or even Darko Milicic, who's recovering from the broken hand he suffered late in Game 5 of the NBA Finals.
Serbia and Montenegro opened its training camp on June 27. Stojakovic was apparently rebuffed in his request to delay joining the team until Aug. 2 and told he was no longer needed.
Divac has said repeatedly that the gold-medal victory over Argentina in the 2002 World Championships was his last international game, and the likely absence of Milicic and Rebraca rules out two prime Divac replacements.
Rebraca is a free agent still searching for a guaranteed contract next season, making him understandably reluctant to risk injury playing for his country. He auditioned for the Clippers last week and figures to be pursued now by Milwaukee after the Bucks' offer to restricted free agent Etan Thomas was matched Wednesday by Washington.
Of course, Serbia and Montenegro still has a deep player pool to pick from even without mainstays like Stojakovic and Divac. Dejan Bodiroga takes Divac's place as the team's veteran voice, and roster options with NBA ties include Vladimir Radmanovic, Peja Drobnjak, Zarko Cabarkapa, Aleksandar Pavlovic and recent draftees Nenad Krstic and Milos Vujanic.
"It's everything I thought it would be," James said of being coached by Brown. "I knew he was the general. He's the captain of the ship. He wants things done right, and if they're not, he's going to get it there. I like that in a coach."
'Melo did concede, however, that "even though the Godfather of the league went to Miami, the Western Conference is still going to be the Western Conference."
Asked whether Cal State Fullerton made it onto the top five of his recruiting ladder, 'Melo cracked: "They were No. 6."
MORE OLYMPICS HEADLINES
- Durant, USA pull away from Spain to win gold
- Clippers' Paul has successful surgery on thumb
- Schmitt back to school after Olympic stardom
- Olympian Raisman, Poland Spring sign deal