USA Basketball named five players to the men's Olympic team Friday, officially filling out the roster with 12 players organizers feel are versatile and athletic enough to win the gold medal in Athens.
The question now becomes: Will those players be the ones who compete in August?
Even as officials announced the addition of LeBron James, Richard Jefferson, Stephon Marbury, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire to the roster, they said that guard Ray Allen won't play because of a family situation, and acknowledged that the roster could fluctuate further as players still involved in the NBA playoffs decide whether they will participate.
"We have to roll with that," USA Basketball Vice President Stu Jackson said. "If we have another player or two or three that elect not to participate, we'll just have to go to the next best option."
The roster consists of the five players added Friday along with Mike Bibby of the Sacramento Kings, Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs, Allen Iverson of the Philadelphia 76ers, Jason Kidd of the New Jersey Nets, Karl Malone of the Los Angeles Lakers, Tracy McGrady of the Orlando Magic and Jermaine O'Neal of the Indiana Pacers. That leaves just seven of 12 players who were on the team that won an Olympic qualifying tournament last summer in Puerto Rico, a factor that could affect consistency, Jackson said.
"It doesn't hurt us from a talent standpoint," Jackson said, "but it does hurt us from a team standpoint."
Lakers star Kobe Bryant has pulled out of consideration because of the sexual assault charge he faces in Colorado. Add in the fact that some of the players still on the roster -- Malone and McGrady in particular -- have acknowledged that they might not play, and there is no telling who might be on the team when training begins July 26 in Jacksonville, Fla.
"It doesn't bother me," said Larry Brown, who will coach the U.S. team in Athens. "Everyone has their reasons. I think they're all valid reasons. The way I look at it is as an opportunity for Stephon, LeBron and Richard. I'm going to coach the guys who come."
Jackson and Brown said there were no players on call, ready to fill in should another player bail out. But Jackson said he has not given up hope that Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal would participate; O'Neal has said that he will decide based on how far the Lakers advance in the playoffs. Jackson also said Denver Nuggets rookie Carmelo Anthony and Kings forward Chris Webber, among others, have been discussed as possible replacements.
Jackson said officials wouldn't consider college players.
The addition of James, in particular, puts one of the NBA's brightest young stars in the Games. The 19-year-old NBA rookie of the year averaged 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He, Jefferson (New Jersey Nets), Marbury (New York Knicks), Stoudemire and Marion (both of the Phoenix Suns) will be making their first Olympic appearances.
"It's something I would never turn down, no matter what the circumstances," Marbury said. "It's not about us. It's about our country. It's about showing that we're the best at what we do."