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Could rookie Dwyane Wade's year culminate in a sensational Olympics appearance? Team USA is reportedly assuming that Mike Bibby will not be in Athens this summer, and so they will be looking for a point guard to backup Stephon Marbury. Other possibilities, such as Sam Cassell, Baron Davis, or Andre Miller, are either too injured or still smarting from their sixth place finish in the World Championships two years ago.
The roster as it currently stands in confirmed players is: Tim Duncan, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Stephon Marbury, Richard Jefferson, Ben Wallace, Shawn Marion, and Amare Stoudemire. For those counting at home, that's one center, two power forwards, two small forwards, two off guards, and one point guard. Team USA needs four more committed played on its roster, and presumably two of those spots should include a center and a point guard.
In addition, Larry Brown has said that he is looking to have at least one or two zone-busting shooters, and the names mentioned in connection with that goal have been Michael Redd and Rip Hamilton. If I were a betting man, I'd guess Hamilton would get one of the four remaining roster spots. That way the current Detroit-Lakers series also becomes, at least in his mind, an Olympian-lazybum series: Brown, head coach of both the Pistons and Team USA, would like nothing better than to beat the Lakers, who are the only team to have three players pull out of the Olympics (Shaq, Kobe, and the Mailman).
Unmentioned in the ESPN.com story reporting on Wade's possible entry (see Newslines below) is the possibility of Chauncey Billups being invited. It would not be surprising if the top three Pistons -- Ben Wallace, Rip Hamilton, and Chauncey Billups -- all played on the Olympics. And it would be even more fitting that none of the Lakers' four future Hall of Famers were on the team. However, Billups has had some nagging injuries, and Brown would be wise not to fiddle with his team's Finals focus by waiting until the season is over one way or another before inviting two more of his players.
Even with Billups and Hamilton, however, and even throwing in Michael Redd, that still leaves one roster spot open, and while a center is coveted by everybody in this league, if there's no one available, there's no one available. Brad Miller has been tossed around as a possibility. So it may very well end up that Wade gets his shot, and his spot, only if Billups is unable to participate.
Yet another reason to keep a close watch on this Finals series.
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Mark Stein ofESPN.comwrites: Sacramento's Mike Bibby is the latest original member of Team USA to surrender his Olympic spot, ESPN.com has learned. Sources also told ESPN.com that the need for a point guard to replace Bibby makes Miami rookie Dwyane Wade a more likely addition to the roster than Denver's Carmelo Anthony... Wade isn't a lock, though, because he's more of a combo guard than a pure point. Minnesota's Sam Cassell would have been a more obvious choice to replace Bibby, after his first All-Star season, but Cassell is expected to undergo hip surgery after hip and back ailments severely limited his participation in the Western Conference finals. New Orleans' Baron Davis and Denver's Andre Miller have yet to be mentioned as possibilities after both struggled on the American squad that finished an embarrassing sixth at the 2002 World Championships in Indianapolis.
Daisy Olivera ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: The first Leaders for Life Award was presented by Rev. Msgr. Franklyn Casale to alumni Andy Elisburg, senior vice president of basketball operations for the Miami Heatand to trial attorney Ervin González, with Colson Hicks Eidson. The $500 per ticket goes to the school's scholarship fund. The gala committee included Ed and Carol Williamson; Thomas and Maria Abreu; Bob and Marta Butterworth; Patricia Delinois; Omar and Alicia Alvarez; Raul and Mercy Masvidal; Mario and Susana Trueba; Edward and Joselyn Miller; Stephen and Blanca Putman.
Roscoe Nance ofUSA Todaywrites: Point guard Mike James went from being a starter who played heavy minutes to being a backup who gets limited minutes when he was traded from the Boston Celtics to the Detroit Pistons at midseason... James started 55 games with the Celtics. He was their assist leader (4.4) and third-leading scorer (10.7 points) while playing 30 minutes a game and ranking among league leaders in three-point field goal percentage (86-for-226, 38%). That ranked as a fairy tale season for James, who was not drafted by an NBA team out of college and bounced around for three years playing overseas and in the CBA. James went to training camp with the Miami Heat in 2001 but was waived prior to the season.
Barry Jackson ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: The Heat's coach said he ``couldn't understand'' people who questioned him for not inserting Dwyane Wade on the final play of Game 6 against Indiana.``There's this notion that Dwyane was hot, but he wasn't hot from three-point range,'' Van Gundy said.