Sources: Team USA commits to stay intact
Despite still recovering from the shock of Paul George’s catastrophic injury, USA Basketball’s remaining 19 players in contention for the inaugural FIBA Basketball World Cup are committed to keeping their names in the hat for one of the final 12 roster spots, according to sources.
Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY SportsThe remaining 19 players in contention for spots on Team USA are standing behind injured teammate Paul George and staying in the running, sources say.
While there is undoubtedly heightened concern within the group after watching George suffer a horrendous compound leg fracture late in Friday night’s intrasquad scrimmage, sources told ESPN.com that various Team USA players have talked amongst themselves about the need to stay together, with showing support for George ranking as one of their primary motivations.
“No one is pulling out,” one source told ESPN.com over the weekend.
Added one general manager who has a player on the Team USA squad: “No one on this team wants to walk away because that would seem unfair to Paul. If there is any fallout from this injury, it may not be felt until the next time invites [for Team USA] go out.”
Coach Mike Krzyzewski and USAB chairman Jerry Colangelo originally planned to make their first round of cuts on the morning after Friday’s scrimmage. While at least a few cuts are indeed still expected before the team is scheduled to reconvene in Chicago on Aug. 13, USAB officials are deliberating whether to carry 14, 15 or 16 players into their 10 remaining days of scheduled preparation on U.S. soil before the plane bound for Spain leaves Aug. 23.
On the eve of the tournament, which opens Aug. 30, Colangelo must submit an official roster of 12 players. George was widely regarded as one of the six locks for that roster along with perceived shoo-ins Kevin Durant, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Derrick Rose and Steph Curry.
George had surgery in the early hours of Saturday morning. He is scheduled to be released from the hospital Monday and then likely to travel to Indianapolis for further evaluation, but George is already expected to miss the entire 2014-15 season for the Indiana Pacers.
Colangelo and Krzyzewski acknowledged in the immediate aftermath of George’s misfortune that the whole program would need additional time to cope with emotional aspect of losing the popular George in such fashion. It’s the first-ever injury of a season-ending nature suffered by an NBA player representing the United States since the original Dream Team was ushered in for the 1992 Olympics.
“I’ve never been in a situation like that where someone goes down that hard,” Team USA assistant and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike” on Monday morning. “This is a very, very difficult thing. It’s not something where you can just say, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re gonna get back together and go.’
“I think it’s gonna take us a few days to get back together and get the team back together.”