USA Basketball might not wait much longer before making final cuts for the men's basketball team.
The 16 players on Team USA's roster will suit up for Wednesday's exhibition game against the Dominican Republic in New York. Another exhibition game is set for Friday against Puerto Rico. By that point, three or four players may learn they won't be heading to Spain for the World Cup of Basketball.
Realistically, nine and maybe 10 spots are locked up (more in this in a moment), leaving 6-7 players for 2-3 slots. USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo told ESPN that one plan involves essentially determining the final roster by Thursday so the matchup with Puerto Rico can serve as a true dress rehearsal rather than a tryout.
"We've said we wanted to wait through the end of the week in New York before we made cutbacks," Colangelo said Monday, "but that could still change....
USAB must submit its official 12-man roster for the World Cup on Aug. 29 -- one day before the tournament starts -- but Colangelo said there remains "a possibility we could carry 13 to Spain" and then make one last cut in the final week before the tournament begins.
My final roster take hasn't changed much over the last two weeks other than having to remove Kevin Durant.
Power forward - Kenneth Faried (lock), Rudy Gay (likely), Mason Plumlee
Small forward - Chandler Parsons, Kyle Korver (likely)
Center - Anthony Davis (lock), DeMarcus Cousins (lock)
Wing guard - Stephen Curry (lock), James Harden (lock), Klay Thompson (lock)
Point guard - Derrick Rose (lock), Kyrie Irving (lock)
How did Rudy Gay go from only joining the team last week following Durant's departure to apparently making the roster? The Baltimore native and Parsons offer flexibility as stretch-4 options. That's crucial for international play. As for Korver, he was the NBA's top 3-point shooter last season. Enough said. For now we'll give that trio the nod over fellow wing options DeMar DeRozan and Gordon Hayward.
If the final plan has only two from this group headed to Spain, that bodes well for point guard Damian Lillard. Not sure why Irving is a sure thing over Lillard (even with the Duke-Coach K connection), but by all reports he is.
Plumlee and Drummond are battling for the final big man spot. If the team indeed takes 13 players across the pond, these two make sense because of how the each provide a different element. Assuming Cousins' recent knee injury isn't an issue by the time Team USA opens World Cup play against Finland on Aug. 30, Plumlee's mobility and defense gives him the edge over the plodding Drummond. Otherwise, Drummond's power game provides another option in a potential gold medal game versus Spain's center Marc Gasol. Ultimately, it will be rather hard if not impossible to justify having a 40 percent free throw shooter on the court in the final minutes of any game. Advantage, Plumlee.
If you don't buy anything written here who's in and who's battling to stay on the roster, look at the breakdown of the roster for Tuesday's practice. One side are the guys we know are going - and Gay.
Team White and Team Blue rosters for today's practice. If you were the coach, who would be your STARTING FIVE? pic.twitter.com/cTxOT6Zi6P— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) August 19, 2014
Aug. 29 will be here soon enough. Enough with tryouts. Time to practice.