Friday, August 18, 2006

The Final Cut

As I predicted, the final cut from Team USA was Bruce Bowen. Meaning that a grand total of 3 players were cut from this team, and not one of them was a star. Now, Gilbert Arenas probably WOULD have been the last cut, had he not pulled a groin muscle in practice. Any chance that Gil saw the writing on the wall, and ended up with a pulled muscle to save face?

All of the talk about a 'real' tryout simply hasn't resulted in anything. If the only players you cut from your tryout are guys that no one thought you'd invite in the first place (Luke Ridnour, Adam Morrison and Bowen), then it's just business as usual.

And it sets up a really strange dynamic for 2008. Guys like Kobe, Lamar Odom, Paul Pierce, Shawn Marion, Amare Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups have been told that they are 'part' of the team, and that they will be given an equal chance to win spots on the final Olympics roster in Beijing. But are we going to cut Shane Battier to make room for Kobe Bryant? Is that fair to Battier? Moreover, is Kobe really going to be on a team where the co-captains are LeBron, DWade and 'Melo? The NBA wants those three to own the league - and USA Basketball has already handed them the keys. Kobe wouldn't defer to a 7'2" guy who was 6 years older and 150 pounds heavier than him. You think he's going to play fourth fiddle to these punks?

If this team tanks, fine, you try and get anyone in who can help. But if they play well in Japan, I think you have to keep these 12 together. Spots will open based on injuries and other commitments (just has they took care of all but 3 cuts this year) - but any chemistry and bonding that comes out of this multi-year approach will be squandered if you start replacing guys who want to play in the Olympics with guys who didn't play in the Worlds.