USA Basketball selected 44 players as finalists for the Olympic team to travel to Tokyo this summer.
However, they are not being invited to a tryout camp in Las Vegas this summer. After watching player after player drop out of the World Cup team at tryouts last summer, coach Gregg Popovich and USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo have decided just to pick 12 players and invite them. That’s what Colangelo said on SiriusXM NBA Radio.
“Basically [the 44 players are] all there because they were asked a simple question. If you’re asked, ‘Are you in or are you out?’ They all said, ‘We’re in.’ So we have a whole group of 44 who all want to play. That’s how I look at it.
“[Popovich] and I are going to not have a tryout, we’re not going through that again. We’re just going to pick 12 players. So as the season is progressing we’re always talking injuries. You know, we’ve had some injuries of late. You never know how these things are going to play out, and we’re not going to necessarily – I keep saying this, and I’ve been consistent – you don’t take the 12 best players, necessarily. You take the best 12 that make the best team.”
Trae Young was “hurt” not to be among the 44 finalists, a sentiment shared by other young stars in the league. Colangelo said it was only because they wanted players who had paid their dues with Team USA.
“So, what we decided to do was – first of all, there were no first-year players on the list. Or second-year players. One three-year player,” Colangelo said. “Basically, because we think you have to earn your keep, earn your spurs, pay your dues, etc. And there’s a lot of good young players, but not for this Olympics. We took the players that we felt had equity. In other words, they had played for us in previous competitions.”
Team USA, in whatever form it finally takes, will start its training camp in Las Vegas in early July, play in a series of exhibitions around the globe (the dates and opponents have not been released), then they will travel to Tokyo for the Olympic Games, which begin July 24.
Whatever players are selected, the USA will be heavy favorite to win the gold medal this summer.