This is going to be one busy NBA offseason. In addition to the Draft (June 24) and the most anticipated free agent period of all-time (beginning July 1) where it seems like one-third of the players in the League will be available, there’s also the World Championships taking place in Turkey from August 28 to September 12.
Since the Redeem Team took care of business at the ’08 Olympics, there isn’t a lot of pressure on Team USA to make a good showing at this tourney, however a gold medal at the Worlds is an automatic qualifier for the 2012 Olympics.
But with USA Basketball training camp also coming up (July 19-24), some of the team’s biggest stars and others on the training camp roster are looking more and more like they might not be donning the red, white and blue this summer. While few have actually made statements on their status, they have good reasons to take a summer vacation:
* Kobe Bryant should be coming off another long playoff run, and his body seriously appears to be falling apart this time. And he turns 32 this summer. If Kobe skipped the Worlds to concentrate on letting his fingers, elbows, back, head, shoulders, knees and toes heal, nobody would blame him.
* LeBron James may also be coming off a long playoff run, but more importantly, he’ll be a free agent. And quite honestly, his body is the most valuable investment in the NBA. He’ll be given the world in the form of a paycheck even if his foot falls off at the WC, but with this current elbow injury weighing on him in the playoffs, that might be enough to convince LBJ to shut it down for the summer.
* Dwyane Wade hasn’t had to worry about a grueling playoff run for awhile, but he’s also a free agent with a lot to protect. His divorce trial is also slated to begin in June, and the way things have gone so far — earlier this week his soon-to-be ex filed a lawsuit against D-Wade’s girlfriend Gabrielle Union on behalf of D-Wade’s kids — it’s going to be very messy and very stressful. He’s trying to get custody of his kids, so taking off to Turkey in the middle of an important family time might not look good for him.
* Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer, Rudy Gay, David Lee and Amar’e Stoudemire are all free agents. Granted, they should be signed by the time the World Championships start, but there’s a history of guys in free-agent summers skipping international play just to be safe and focus on getting settled in their new homes.
* Chris Paul, Tayshaun Prince, Gerald Wallace and Danny Granger are coming off injury-plagued seasons. Three of those four are their franchise’s best player, and with dwindling season-ticket sales at stake, front offices won’t be shy about pulling the “We pay you” card to keep their centerpiece out of danger.
So who’s left?
The rest of the Team USA training camp roster includes LaMarcus Aldridge, Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, Kevin Durant, Eric Gordon, Dwight Howard, Andre Iguodala, Al Jefferson, Brook Lopez, Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo, Lamar Odom, Kendrick Perkins, Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Tyreke Evans, Jeff Green, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams.
In the off chance that every one of those aforementioned “maybe” players above decides to take a pass on the World Championships, what would your Team USA roster look like taken from the rest of the bunch?