In further preparation to scale their roster size down to twelve for the upcoming FIBA World Championships in Turkey this month, Team USA cut two more members of their roster. Jeff Green and JaVale McGee have been let go just prior to the team leaving for Spain on Monday. This is the second time that McGee has been released from the team. He was brought back, after the initial cuts, when Brook Lopez left training camp because of mononucleosis.
Neither Green nor McGee participated in Saturday’s scrimmage against China at Madison Square Garden which led many to believe that they would be cut. Team USA won 95-81 behind Danny Granger‘s 22 points. Granger, it seems, is suffering no ill effects from the finger he dislocated at the start of training camp. The team announced its decision to part ways with the two players before Sunday’s scrimmage with France at MSG.
This has been a busy weekend for Team USA as they have been the focal point at the World Basketball Festival. They played a blue and white scrimmage on the stage before an audience at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday to kick off the festival before Jay-Z took the stage in a further attempt to assert himself on the the sport. (The Jigga Man is nothing more than a minority owner on the league’s worst team.) This was followed up by various appearances by players at events across New York City, including Kevin Durant stopping by Rucker Park. Sunday’s scrimmage against France will be the last event for the team before they depart for Europe.
Team USA’s roster now stands at thirteen. Chauncey Billups, Tyson Chandler, Stephen Curry, Durant, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Granger, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Lamar Odom, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose, and Russell Westbrook will all travel to Madrid as Team USA will hold exhibition games against Lithuania and Spain before the World Championships start. Many believe that Gordon and Curry are the most likely candidates battling for the final roster position.
Now that McGee has been cut, Team USA only has one true center in Chandler. If the team has any hopes of succeeding they will have to get rebounding contributions from every position. Odom and Love should get their share of rebounds but guards such as Rondo will need to make a concerted effort to get in the lane and scrap for boards.
With such a guard heavy roster, Coach Mike Krzyzewski might think about brushing up on his Nellie-ball. The team will be forced to play small ball for much of the game, with Odom playing center at times. Speed will be their friend and they must use it to gain an advantage. If they cannot do that, the gold metal that has eluded them since 1994 at the World Championships will continue to be out of reach.