Posted by Matt Moore
Not everyone gets to go to Istanbul (not Constantinople ). Today Team USA officials revealed the roster finalists that will head to New York for the last round of cuts before starting international play for this summer's FIBA World Championships. Royce has told you all about who made it. But who got cut?
Just as we told you earlier that FanHouse had reported , Tyreke Evans, Gerald Wallace, O.J. Mayo and JaVale McGee were cut from the roster before the team heads to New York. Evans was known for a while, as he tweaked his ankle at the start of camp and was going to be unavailable for the team regardless. The others, though, represent a set of confusing decisions that aren't extremely perplexing, but are enough to make you scratch your head, especially when you examining who they were replaced with. Some of these could be due to conflicts, personality clashes, or injury, but based on basketball, there are some question marks.
These players who made the cut were locks, and should have been:
1. Kevin Durant: Best player available.
2. Chauncey Billups: Veteran leadership.
3. Lamar Odom: Who doesn't want a space cadet small forward with great length who occasionally is dominant?
4. Danny Granger: Good at basketball.
5. Andre Iguodala: His reputation preceds his game. By miles.
6. Tyson Chandler: Big, which USA has none of right now.
7. Brook Lopez: Ditto, despite his game not being well suited for FIBA play.
8. Stephen Curry: A prolific shooter with passing skills and range. Perfect for Coach K, perfect for FIBA.
9. Kevin Love: Seriously. No bigs. Need bigs.
10. Rudy Gay: Has looked like he actually is worth the money he earned this summer, and they need a true SF with multiple combo-forwards on roster.
But then there are these five.
11. Jeff Green: Tweener that's not a great rebounder, provides range and versatility on a roster stacked with perimeter players.
12. Rajon Rondo: Not a great mid-range shooter, seemed to dog it in the Team USA scrimmage. Coach K did say on a conference call that he and Rondo have a good relationship.
13. Russell Westbrook: Fiery, great penetration guard, but it's a roster chock full of them. Seems superfluous next to Curry, Rondo, and Billups.
14. Derrick Rose: Same deal.
15. Eric Gordon: Wait, what?
Wallace is able to play the 3 or the 4, unlike Gay, is a better rebounder than Iggy, and is a better defender than Granger. If you're shopping for a versatile player that doesn't have to score (due to the roster being stuffed with scorers), Wallace is a great combination of all of the above. Sure, he doesn't have Iguodala's inability to create his own shot or Gay's penchant for electing for 20 foot jumpers, but it's hard to see how they could have thought his effort wasn't enough.
McGee makes sense, from the perspective of needing a more well-rounded offensive attack at center. Except why then is Tyson Chandler likely to start? Terrific defender, no doubt, but his injury issues have to be a concern (even more so for the Mavs), and unless Chris Paul is lobbing him alley-oops from the other side of the planet, his offensive weaponry is largely a bust. Green was put on roster, despite being a perimeter stretch four among a sea of great three point shooters. Wouldn't McGee's energy and size been a better fit for the roster?
Mayo, however, makes up the most egregious exclusion. Apparently the plan is to throw out multiple point guard lineups and have the other spread the floor. Except that Rondo's not a tremendous three point shooter. But they did throw in Eric Gordon. Who Mayo has shown to be better at in nearly every relevant shooting and scoring category. Considering Gordon's size, defense can't be the reason. In the end, you have to wonder if this was simply a case of Mayo not being a "Coach K kind of guy" and with no real advocate on roster, fell to the side. Either that or he suffered an injury. It just seems odd to have a plan of versatile fast shooters, then leave one at home.
But then, the man did win Gold two years ago, so obviously he knows a thing or two about what he's doing. We'll see if he can pull it off without the monster-roster he had then.
The next round of cuts should come next month before the team leaves for Europe in a series of warm-up matches to the World Championships.