For USA Basketball, big-name NBA injuries and absences are mounting like casualties emerging from a freeway pileup: Derrick Rose (torn ACL), Dwight Howard (back surgery), Chauncey Billups (torn Achilles), LaMarcus Aldridge (hip surgery) and Lamar Odom (personal issues) have all been crossed off the original list of 20 finalists to represent the U.S. at the London Olympics this summer. Lakers All-Star center Andrew Bynum, a likely replacement who had a triple double on Sunday in an opening postseason win against the Nuggets, has ruled himself out of the Olympics in order to pursue treatment for his troubled knees after the playoffs. USAB chairman Jerry Colangelo had planned to announce the 12-man roster on June 1, but the expanding list of unavailable stars has persuaded him to hold off until the June 18 deadline. "It seems ridiculous with a lot of playoff games to play that we would select a team," Colangelo told SI.com's Sam Amick. "We might as well keep the options open as long as we can."
Cause for panic? Of course not. This potential Dream Team was always going to be built around Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, who led the U.S. to gold at the 2008 Olympics, as well as Kevin Durant, the star of the '10 world championships. The U.S. can cull a dominating rotation of point guards from Chris Paul, Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook. While Tyson Chandler is the only true center among the current finalists, coach Mike Krzyzewski could always shift Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, Anthony or James to the five spot. The trend of injuries will have to become catastrophic before the Americans' role as prohibitive favorite is threatened.
JOHN BIEVER (JAMES)
DON'T FRET With James (right) and Bryant still at the core of the team, the U.S. should be as strong as ever despite some missing stars.