US men's basketball faces Olympic deadline hurdle

The first hurdle facing the U.S. men's basketball team in defense of its gold medal could be the schedule.

USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo says the earlier start date for the 2012 Olympics could require the Americans to submit a 12-man roster before the NBA season is over.

The rosters will be due on June 18, 2012, forcing Colangelo and coach Mike Krzyzewski to pick their squad without the benefit of having the players together for a training camp.

"Literally what I have to do now is just look at what happens the rest of this season and what happens next season during the year and then we have to submit our roster," Colangelo said Friday.

With the NBA finals going the full seven games last year, the season didn't end until the early morning of June 18. A seven-game series in 2012 could go as late as June 21.

The London games open July 27, 2012. Teams would still be able to make changes to the 12-man rosters after the deadline if there is an injury.

The Americans picked their gold medal-winning squad without a tryout camp in 2008, but they were choosing from a much smaller pool of players. With all those players remaining in the national team roster, plus the group that won the world championship last summer in Turkey, Colangelo may have to sort through more than 30 names.

And while all the top superstars passed on the worlds, they will likely be more interested in returning for the Olympics, which are much more valued by Americans.

"That's a long time away. You never know what happens in life and everything. As of right now we're all committed to being with the team, I think it's like us and 30 guys and we're still going to have to compete," said Miami forward Chris Bosh, who played on the '08 team.

"So we're going to have to go out there and compete against the guys who won the world championship and the guys who won the Beijing games in '08. So it's a lot of things that can happen, but we'll see and I'm sure we have the Olympics on our minds. At the end of the day, it was a lot of fun so everyone is going to consider it."

But the earlier reporting date could weigh more on Bosh and fellow All-Star teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, who will be favored to be playing in June next season. Colangelo might need them to give their Olympic commitments while still focused on a playoff run with the Heat.

"The good news is this: Everyone wants to play. Start with that," Colangelo said. "The difficulty is we will not have the get-together camp situation to go through a lot of that stuff."

Colangelo said he wasn't concerned about another potential roadblock: A lockout could wipe out the 2011-12 season and he wouldn't get to see players on the bubble for a roster spot in action.

The 2008 Olympics opened on Aug. 8, and the Americans played their first game two days later. The gold-medal game in London is scheduled for Aug. 12.

The Americans automatically qualified for the Olympics by winning the world championship, so unless Colangelo schedules a camp this summer, the players wouldn't be back together until 2012. He would prefer it was before he had to determine which ones were headed to London with him.

"It's not a tryout, (but) things do happen," he said. "You hear me say the same things over and over again. Sometimes contracts, sometimes injuries, sometimes things happen. But having said all that, at the end of the day we're going to have to pick 12 names on a date in June without having the ability to get our team together."