Kobe Bryant was the lone Lakers player to compete for Team USA in 2008′s Olympic triumph.
Yet it’s no coincidence that not a single player from the Lakers, Celtics, Spurs, Cavaliers, Magic or Mavericks will participate in Team USA’s mini-camp set to take place from July 23-25 in Las Vegas, Nevada. After all, the NBA’s elite teams feature established names like Bryant, Garnett, Duncan, James, Howard and Nowitzki, each of whom lead contenders for the league championship and whose teams don’t often feature lottery picks.
However, Oklahoma City, Memphis, New Jersey and the Clippers all have at least two players on the 23-man mini-camp roster, which highlights their collective place among the league’s developing teams. In fact, only two players on the squad were taken after the first round, both by the Utah Jazz: Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver. Most are high lottery selections like O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Love, Jeff Green, Eric Gordon, Anthony Randolph and Josh Smith. Highlighting the group are 2007-08 Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant, 2008-09 winner Derrick Rose and 2009 No. 1 overall pick Blake Griffin.
Former Laker and now Houston Rocket Trevor Ariza had previously been among those names, but he – along with LaMarcus Aldridge, Glen Davis and Brandon Roy – will not attend the mini-camp.
USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo, responsible for the roster, had this to say about the process:
While we look to continue to build continuity within the USA National Team program and continue to improve, in 2009 we will get a look at some of the top young NBA players who haven’t been involved in USA Basketball at the top national program level previously. Although some of these players have represented USA Basketball in the past, this is their opportunity to be considered for the next generation of players who will help make up the USA Basketball National program. As was the case in 2005-08, the roster for the national team program will be fluid in 2010-2012 and we will make adjustments to the roster each year to help insure we have the strongest program and the strongest teams possible.
The Lakers do feature three international players that are set to compete for their National teams in the coming Eurobasket Tournament: Pau Gasol (Spain); Sasha Vujacic (Slovenia) and D.J. Mbenga (Belgium). As for the Americans? Team USA’s senior squad will next compete in the 2010 FIBA World Championships from Aug. 28-Sept. 12 in Turkey.