Durant, Collison Dropped From U.S. Team
Tuesday, August 21, 2007; 5:36 AM
LAS VEGAS -- After last year's world championships, the United States knew it needed better shooters, stronger defenders, and more experienced players.
That last one cost Kevin Durant.
The Seattle rookie was one of two players cut Monday night as the Americans got down to the 12-player limit for the Olympic qualifying tournament that begins Wednesday.
SuperSonics teammate Nick Collison also was dropped when the Americans announced their decisions about two hours after practicing at the Thomas & Mack Center. The final roster needed to be submitted Tuesday, a day before the U.S. opens the FIBA Americas tournament against Venezuela.
The Americans have learned in recent years that international basketball is not a young man's game.
"The experience of the team helps us, there's no question," U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "The good teams we play against are not only older individually, they're old collectively. They've grown old together. So maybe we can make up some of that with the selections that we made."
As expected, Michael Redd and Mike Miller had nothing to worry about. The Americans have gone too long without a reliable perimeter threat, so they weren't going to send home two of the NBA's best.
Besides the shooters, USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo and Krzyzewski also sought some stoppers. That created spots for New Orleans' Tyson Chandler, one of the NBA's top rebounders and shot blockers, and versatile Detroit forward Tayshaun Prince.
"We knew exactly what we felt we needed in terms of adding certain components to our roster, and the good news is we were able to accomplish that," Colangelo said.
The U.S. roster includes: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Dwight Howard, Jason Kidd, Chauncey Billups, Redd, Miller, Chandler, Prince and Deron Williams.
When the 18-year-old Durant was added to the national team roster in May, it was thought that he was a pick for the future. Then he showed he was a legitimate candidate to make the team this year when he scored 22 points last month in the intrasquad game to close minicamp.
But the Americans were looking for more experience after the average age of the players on last year's world championships team was 24.5. This squad averages 26.2, largely because of the additions of veteran point guards Kidd and Billups.