Monday, August 14, 2006

Arenas out of the Worlds

Gilbert Arenas pulled a groin muscle in practice and will miss the World Chamionships.

I have very mixed feelings about this. I am not a big fan of Gilbert the point guard - he's not just shoot-first; he's shoot-second, third, fourth and fifth (at least). And on what is essentially an All-Star team, you MUST NOT have a shoot-first point guard, since there are plenty of scorers. Basically, your point needs to make the shots that the defense absolutely gives them, and never shoot anything else. There's only one basketball, and they get it for dribbling, but the other guys get it for shooting.

However, Gilbert is probably the best pure shooter on the roster, and I have a feeling Team USA is going to come across a zone or two where they're going to miss him. Not that Coach K has shown any inclination to play him at the 2; but I might keep him for that. I know the team is over-loaded with wings - but can any of them flat-out shoot like Arenas? Not DWade, not Joe Johnson, not LeBron, not Carmelo. They can all score, but we may need some guys who can shoot. Oh well.

The most interesting thing about this situation is that USA Basketball now only has to make one more 'cut' in this supposed try-out for the team. Based on minutes played, it sure looks like the last cut is going to be Bruce Bowen. As I've said, I agree with that cut - I'm not sure why a 35 year old guy was invited to try out for a 2 plus year long commitment anyway. But it also means that we'll go through this entire process cutting a total of 3 guys - Adam Morrison, Luke Ridnour and (probably) Bruce Bowen.

This team was supposed to be different. The superstars weren't supposed to be guaranteed anything. But, conveniently, not a single all-star (or star, for that matter) will be cut from this team. Now, USA Basketball did invite 24 guys, and they may have believed that they were going to have to cut superstars - but at the end of the day, they haven't.

It remains to be seen what happens with Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce, etc. in 2008. If the goal is to have a consistent 'team', and assuming the team does well in Japan, don't you have to give these 12 guys first crack at it? They show up for the 'try-out', they show up for the Worlds, they do well - that's it, they're also on the Olympic team until the decide otherwise. And Gilbert Arenas gets the first guard opening, not Chauncey Billups. I just don't think you can cut Shane Battier in order to add Kobe Bryant. It sends the exactly wrong message.

But we'll see. If Kobe wants to play, what do you wanna bet he'll play? And for that matter, what if Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett have changes of heart and call USA Basketball asking for a spot on the 2008 team? Is Jerry Colangelo going to have the huevos to say 'No'?