The U.S. Olympic men’s basketball roster has been in flux due to injuries suffered by members on the team’s original 20-man invitation list. Thunder sixth man James Harden received an invitation last week to try out for the squad after Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose suffered a serious knee injury in Game 1 of the playoffs.
Harden will join Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who were previous invitees and valuable members of the gold-medal team at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Turkey. Durant was named most valuable player of the tournament and chosen 2010 USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year. Thunder head athletic trainer Joe Sharpe also was on staff for the FIBA team and will assist with this year’s Olympic team.
With three potential players for the 2012 Olympic team in London, USA Basketball should consider adding Thunder coach Scott Brooks as an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski’s staff.
Team USA assistant coaches Mike D’Antoni (New York Knicks) and Nate McMillan (Portland Trail Blazers) lost their jobs within hours of each other in mid-March. D’Antoni resigned and McMillan was fired, but both remain on the Olympic team staff.
A USA Basketball official said D’Antoni and McMillan are still in good standing to remain on staff, having been employed three of the last five years. No coaching changes for Team USA are anticipated because of the resounding success of Krzyzewski’s staff, which also includes Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim and managing director Jerry Colangelo.
However, what would be the harm inviting Brooks as an observer to Team USA’s training camp in July at Las Vegas? Brooks could share his insight on Durant, Westbrook and particularly Harden, whose stock continues to soar.
Brooks has no experience with USA Basketball, but this could get his foot in the door, perhaps as a Team USA staff member for the next quadrennial. Durant and Westbrook are only 23 and Harden is 22, which makes all three prime contenders for the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Asked Monday if he would have any interest in serving as a coach for USA Basketball, Brooks said: “Oh, heck yes. It would be an honor. It’s your dream as a player or a coach to represent your country.”