LAS VEGAS — The U.S. men’s basketball team held its first practice Friday, and there was a quick reminder of the rocky run-up to the London Games.
Chris Paul was forced to leave the opening day of training camp to get an X-ray after hurting his thumb. The Americans don’t believe the injury is serious.
USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo called it a tweak of a previous injury, and he hopes Paul can practice today.
That would be some rare good news for a team has been severely weakened by injuries.
Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all were forced to pull out, leaving the Americans with 15 players vying for 12 spots.
The roster will be announced tonight.
LeBron James, about two weeks removed from winning NBA Final MVP honors after Miami’s championship, didn’t scrimmage Friday so he could get some extra rest. Deron Williams sat out as planned because he still can’t sign his $98 million extension with the Nets, and top draft pick Anthony Davis remained sidelined because of a sprained ankle.
That allowed the Americans time for extra looks at some of the players on the bubble, such as Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, James Harden and Andre Iguodala.
“You could build a case for each of the contenders if you will, depending on what you want,” Colangelo said. “It’s like a menu: Another shooter, it’s Eric Gordon. You want a scoring guard, it’s Harden. You want a defensive specialist, it’s Iguodala. You want another guy with length who can shoot the ball and run the court, it’s Rudy Gay.”
What the Americans really want is another big body, having lost their 2008 center rotation with the absences of Howard and Bosh. James and Carmelo Anthony even could see time at center.
The need for size has Colangelo intrigued by Davis, the shot-blocking college player of the year who led Kentucky to the national title.
But he’s not ready to go full speed yet after hurting himself less than a week ago while working out with the Hornets, leaving him frustrated but eager.
Colangelo said it would be a “reach” to pick Davis without really seeing him, but acknowledges the 6-foot-10 forward has qualities no other U.S. player has.
So he could pick him today and hope he’s ready in a couple of weeks.