Marc Stein of ESPN reports that final cuts for Team USA could come as soon as Thursday, and that promising point guard Damian Lillard is at risk of not making the team.
USAB must cut the current 16-man roster to its final 12-man roster by August 29, the day before the FIBA World Cup begins. Stein reports that as many as 10 players are competing for the final six spots. Among them is Lillard, who is looking up at Derrick Rose, Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving.
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.
According to Stein, USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski have repeated that the six core players of the team are Rose, Curry, Irving, Anthony Davis, James Harden and Kenneth Faried.
Lillard seems to be on the short list of cuts coming, after playing just two minutes and not recording any statistics in USA’s exhibition win against Brazil on August 16.
Stein also reports that DeMarcus Cousins, Mason Plumlee and Andre Drummond are competing for what will likely be one backup center spot behind Davis. Colangelo could cut the existing the current 16-man roster after Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Dominican Republic at Madison Square Garden, according to Stein.
Along with Lillard, Korver and Parsons saw limited playing time while Drummond, Hayward and DeRozan didn’t log any minutes at all.
It seems Lillard’s chances of making the team are slim, but if Coach K decides to go with Curry at shooting guard Lillard could fill in as Team USA’s third point guard. He would still be looking at limited playing time, but having the ice-cold shooter on Team USA could be a valuable asset in the tournament.