The 2011-12 NBA is close to being a wrap, which means the 2012 Olympic games are right around the corner. The exciting basketball tournament which all the world’s basketball fans are looking forward to following draws closer everyday. But before Team USA takes on the best basketball teams of the world, they got to get in some practice and training camp before they head off to London and make a run for the gold medal.
Recently, the USA Men’s Select Team (a team built to scrimmage against Team USA in preparation for the London games) was announced which included NBA players such as DeMarcus Cousins, Kawhi Leonard, DeJuan Blair, Jeremy Lin, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and many other notable players but as the free agency period nears, one player named to the team is bowing out – Ryan Anderson.
The Orlando Magic shooter has withdrawn from the team due in larger part to his impending free agency and wants to minimize any injury risk playing for the select team.
Anderson almost certainly bowed out because he and his business team didn’t want him to risk injury at a time when he will be a restricted free agent. If he were to suffer a significant injury while playing for the select team, it could cost him on the free-agent market.
Well there you have it. Don’t count on Anderson to help Team USA reach gold in London. Seems it was money or country for Ryan.
Alright so Anderson is out but the team did add two more players to help Team USA prep for London – Celtics’ Greg Stiemsma and Hornets’ Lance Thomas.
“We made a commitment back in October that we would select two players from the 2011 USA Pan American Games Team and invite them to be part of the 2012 USA Select Team,” explained Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball chairman. “Greg (Stiemsma) and Lance (Thomas) were valuable contributors to the USA’s bronze medal showing at the 2011 Pan American Games and both earned their way on to NBA rosters this season and demonstrated they can contribute at that level. I’m pleased to have both players join the USA Select Team.”
Solid choices for the Select Team. Stiemsma and Thomas have international experience in the 2011 Pan Am Games and should give Team USA a heavy dose of the international style of play which Team USA needs.
Moreover, with Team USA losing bigs LaMarcus Aldridge, and Dwight Howard due to injury, having a big like Stiemsma could help Team USA’s remaining bigs (Chris Bosh, Tyson Chandler, and Kevin Love) get the necessary training they will need against highly-skilled international bigs like Pau and Marc Gasol of Spain if they want any shot at capturing gold in London seeing how Team Spain is the USA’s biggest threat.
You know, seeing how Howard and Aldridge won’t be on the team, who knows if Stiemsma could sneak in on the Team USA roster. He is a defensive presence and could be a great post presence in the paint versus the Gasol brothers for Spain or other bigs in London such as Joakim Noah with Team France.