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Jerry Colangelo hints Suns’ Devin Booker, Chris Paul in Team USA pool

Former Phoenix sports franchise owner Jerry Colangelo visits Doug & Wolf on Arizona on Feb. 12, 2019. (Arizona Sports/Matt Layman)

Three-time defending gold medalist USA Basketball was scheduled to defend its place atop the world at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team will have to wait until July to get back on the court to represent the red, white and blue.

The rearranging of schedules has also greatly affected the NBA, with the 2019-20 season ending on Oct. 11 and the 2020-21 campaign starting on Dec. 22.

This year’s regular season is tentatively scheduled to end on May 16 — roughly one month later than the usual start of the playoffs in April — which means camp for Team USA will commence during the NBA Finals.

“We will start camp without our full roster, we know that,” Jerry Colangelo told Arizona Sports’ Doug & Wolf on Tuesday. “So we’re looking at what we can do to make the best out of our circumstances.”

The “Godfather of Valley Sports” said that USA Basketball is getting ready to announce an extensive group of players from a pool of 50-plus candidates.

“We’ll select 12, obviously that’s the roster maximum,” Colangelo said. “But because of COVID, because the season lasted as long as it did, the new season, the playoffs — there isn’t much of a turnaround time.

“I had one player who’s an All-Star tell us just a few days ago, he didn’t care if his last game was the last game of the NBA Finals, he’d be there 24 hours later. That’s how committed he is to wanting to play.”

When it comes to the guard position, Colangelo might not have to look further than the Valley in Phoenix Suns Devin Booker and Chris Paul, the latter of which won the gold medal in 2008 and 2012.

“We haven’t announced anything but I guess if you were a betting guy, you could go one way or the other and you can’t go wrong,” Colangelo said when asked if Booker or Paul were among the pool of 50-plus players.

“You can see the confidence growing with Devin Booker for sure and I can’t say enough about Chris Paul,” he added. “He played for us with the Olympic team back in ’08, so I’ve had that relationship with him and I know what kind of a leader he is.”

However, a big concern for Colangelo is the availability and health of bigs that can represent the U.S. after Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis suffered an Achilles injury and will miss some time.

“He’s a big part of what we’re looking at. We do not have a lot of bigs,” he said. “Most of the bigs in the NBA are European players, so that’s going to be a challenge for us. The old days of having centers playing in the low post with their back to the basket are gone. They all want to be 3-point shooters on the perimeter.

“So it’s a different game, it’s a different skill set, but some of the best centers in the league right now are Europeans.”


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