Marc Stein of ESPN reports that the final cuts to the USA basketball team could come as soon as this Thursday. Damian Lillard is one of the players that are on the bubble, after competing very little against Brazil in last Saturday’s exhibition game:
“Guards Damian Lillard and DeMar DeRozan are also at risk of being cut, but that likely depends on how many of the five versatile swingmen (Klay Thompson, Rudy Gay, Chandler Parsons, Gordon Hayward, and Kyle Korver) survive.”
Although Lillard seems to be on the short list of expendables, circumstances could easily change as preliminary play continues. Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski and USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo do not have to officially make cuts until August 29th, the day before the 2014 FIBA World Cup begins. Coach K has stated that player inclusion up to this point is not necessarily indicative of who will be selected and who will not:
“People read into everything,” Krzyzewski said. “That’s part of the world we live in. That’s why we have shows. Because if they weren’t talking about that, no one would be watching.First of all, you never play 16 guys in a game, so we have to take a look at certain things. In these next two games, we’ll look at more and then hopefully we’ll be down, before we go to Gran Canaria, to about 12.”
According to Stein, Krzyzewski and Colangelo have “consistently referred to” Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose, James Harden, Kenneth Faried, Stephen Curry, and Kyrie Irving as core players. If these players make the next round of cuts, there will be just six spots left to be filled between ten remaining competitors.
Lillard’s chances of making the team are slimmer than most, but still worth tracking as long as Coach K is experimenting with Curry as a shooting guard. The point guard position is absolutely the most loaded, so if the best fringe players round out the roster (cohesion notwithstanding), Lillard would likely be included as the third option at the point.