Kings Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Sacramento Kings and the NBA.

August 25, 2008
Kevin Martin, Jerry West and the next Team USA

Had a story in the Sunday paper outlining why this has been a great summer for Kevin Martin and his USA Basketball future. That could be for the 2010 world championships in Turkey, the 2012 Olympics in London, both or, in the end, neither, but he's very much in the mix and that in itself is a notable step for a relative unknown in the draft just as the previous Games were played and a guy who hasn't even been an All-Star.

The premise:

*Jerry Colangelo, the Team USA managing director, and Mike Krzyzewski, the Duke coach who ran the current team of pros, were proven right in constructing a roster loaded with perimeter players. That's Martin. Building off the success of Beijing, future teams should be heavy on guards and athletic wings, agile players who can shoot and pass and on defense disrupt the pick-and-roll schemes that ruined the Americans in the past. The international game is not the isolation game of the NBA.

*There will be turnover at guard from this '08 Redeem Team. We may not know for years exactly how much turnover, but it will happen. The aging process heading toward Turkey in 2010 -- party at Hedo's house! -- mandates change in the backcourt more than any place.

*Martin was put on the select team, the group of young players brought to Las Vegas in July to practice against the Beijing-bound stars. Think of it as a farm system. USA Basketball wants him in the loop.

Again, the next major international competition for the United States isn't for two years and it may take Colangelo and Coach K that long to get the champagne smell out of their clothes. Martin, among the many candidates, still has an entire 2008-09 of auditioning. But things broke very well for his candidacy.

In that case, Team USA moving forward:

Managing director -- The man who sets the tone and has the strongest voice in choosing a coach and players. Colangelo has been noncommittal about whether he wants to sign up for another tour. If he does, the job is his. He's earned it.

And if not? Two words.

Jerry. West.

The Logo is a perfect fit in so many ways. Great presence, respected within the NBA offices, and this is an NBA operation, unemployed and therefore able to devote the time.

Coach -- Same as Colangelo: let Krzyzewski come back if he wants to come back. But it won't happen. It never happens with Olympic coaches.

Gregg Popovich of the Spurs, an assistant at the 2004 Olympics, and Mike D'Antoni of the Knicks, an assistant this time, are the favorites. Both have extensive international experience, both are players' coaches who could properly balance driving a team with the understanding it's a summer job.

Players -- This is where it gets tricky.

The Redeem Team: Carlos Boozer, Jason Kidd, LeBron James, Deron Williams, Michael Redd, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh, Chris Paul, Tayshaun Prince, Carmelo Anthony.

Redd, supposedly the designated shooter, played the second-fewest minutes. He won't be back. Kidd is 35 now. Ditto.

This is where it gets really tricky.

It is impossible to predict the next international step for Bryant -- he turned 30 on Saturday and, while it's easy to see him as a popular and marketable star in four years, it's also realistic that he will not want to make another lengthy commitment. Same goes for Wade. He's much younger, 26, but a lot of these guys may want their summers back. That will become the overriding consideration for most potential returnees.

That leaves James, Anthony, Paul and Williams as the youth among the wings, making them more likely to stay in the program. Plus, Nike will drag LeBron to London if that's what it takes. So there could be two openings (Redd and Kidd) or more, and no one is close to knowing the number. And then that number could shift if Colangelo / successor decide to add another big as insurance or because a guy like power forward Kevin Love is too good of an international fit (great passer, shooting range) to skip despite lacking the mobility of the others. Or maybe the play of Amare Stoudemire, Andrew Bynum or, for defense, Greg Oden demand their inclusion at center.

Here's the Martin competition for the moment, though, just among the wings and just on what we know now: Brandon Roy (front of the line), Kevin Durant, Andre Igoudala, Monta Ellis, Mike Miller, Rodney Stuckey, and O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose (incoming rookies, but on the select team). Any change is possible depending on improvement, stumble and injury between now and Turkey, among that checklist or others who may emerge, but it's a good starting point.

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