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If LeBron James wants to assure himself of a trip to the Beijing Olympics, he’d better show up for Team USA in Las Vegas this summer.
Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo told ESPN.com that James could be jeopardizing his status as one of the five or six core players for the Beijing Olympics.
“Unless people have a legitimate reason for not participating, I expect them to uphold their three-year commitment. I’m standing by my commitment and I expect people to stand by theirs. If someone chooses not to participate just because they’d rather not play, that person would put himself at risk as far as who ultimately represents us at the Olympics,” Colangelo said.
“I don’t have a rule, but it just makes common sense that if you miss the first two events you don’t go to the third,” Colangelo said, adding that he also does not expect to have Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson and Chris Paul on the Tournament of the Americas roster because of their various injuries and possible surgeries.
In addition to Kidd, Boozer and Greg Oden (who attended camp briefly last summer), at least two other new players are expected to be invited to training camp in mid-July. One is all but certain to be Kevin Durant of the University of Texas, and another could be Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz.
Colangelo expects everyone on the roster to attend mini-camp in Las Vegas in mid-July, with 15 players being brought back Aug. 12 when the team assembles for camp 10 days prior to the Tournament of the Americas.
James gave his “50-50” prognosis last month, saying: “Right now, I’m 50-50. My girlfriend is expecting another [baby] in June. Health is always an issue. You have to re-evaluate things, go through the season, go through the playoffs and then look at it afterward.” James has waffled to varying degrees throughout the season when questioned on the subject, repeatedly saying he wants to sit down with his family to discuss it after the NBA season.
“I’m not giving out a free pass, that’s my point,” Colangelo said, emphasizing that he expects the same level of commitment from everyone on the roster, not just James. “You have to look at each individual situation and weigh it.”
Kevin Garnett standing up for James
“The body can only take so much,” Garnett said. “It’s hard to make other people understand that. But sometimes, you have to do what’s best for yourself for you to be productive. It’s easy to sit in the back and critique what others do, but it’s one of the hardest things to do in our league.
“Let me tell you what’s going to happen. LeBron is going to step up and not going let the pressure dictate what he’s doing,” Garnett said. “I think USA Basketball is trying to throw it on him. He’s human. Otherwise, he’s going to break down and no one wants to see that. At one point he’ll step up and speak up, and that’s all right to do that. Your body is telling you. You have to listen to your body. If he’s going to be effective in the playoffs, he’ll have to do that.”