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Could ‘Melo’s role with D’Antoni cost him a spot on Team USA?

Mar 20, 2012, 4:22 PM EDT

Carmelo Anthony, Jason Kidd, Olympics AP

Mike Krzyzewski and the coaches of Team USA have some very tough decisions ahead of them as they trim the list of 20 candidates down to 12 who get to suit up in London this summer for the Olympics.

Look at the power forward spot. You only really need three and the guys on that finals list include Kevin Love, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge and Carmelo Anthony. (Yes in the NBA ‘Melo is a three, but in international ball where you need a stretch four he plays mostly in that spot.)

One of the guys getting input on those cuts — Mike D’Antoni. The deposed Knicks coach. Anthony didn’t go to Knicks management and say “fire this guy” but his clashes and effort made it clear one of them had to go. And the elite players always beat the coach in the power struggle. Always. Then Anthony has admitted he is trying harder for D’Antoni’s replacement Mike Woodson.

But with Team USA D’Antoni has more power and putting together a team that fits well matters. Ken Berger of spoke with an international basketball source about this very issue.

Among the greatest honors and marketing opportunities NBA stars have is to play with Team USA in the Olympics, and a person with ties to international basketball told that Anthony’s role in D’Antoni’s demise — however unintended — did not sit well with USA Basketball authorities. D’Antoni, of course, is an assistant coach with Team USA. Anthony is by no means a coach killer, but his hold on a prominent role with the team in the London Olympics could be jeopardized by how his body of work with the Knicks is viewed by Team USA officials….

“I don’t even think Carmelo is thinking about this, but I think it’s going to hurt him,” the international basketball source said. “I don’t think he’s playing as well as the other power forwards are right now. He’s not a bad guy, but he needs to start playing better because the USA team is looking at that, and Mike is an assistant. It should not be given to him.”

I think in the end Anthony is there in London, and not just because Nike wants it. Although that helps. But ‘Melo’s game fits very well in international ball — he may have been Team USA’s third best player in Beijing four years ago. He can play inside and out and — with team USA — has been great about molding his game into the team concept.

If Team USA really is about winning, they need to bring Anthony. (Of that group listed above I’d leave Griffin home because his jumper is not nearly as steady as the other three.) But if they don’t the drop-off is not that steep.

  1. claymatthewsisonsteroids - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:28 PM

    I would’ve thought his bad play is what would cost him a spot on the team…

  2. eddit13 - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Yea, Melo plays small forward. Sorry for the late memo.

    • Filipe Furtado - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:01 PM

      He actually played almost exclusively PF in 2008 (as KD did in 2010).

    • cordae - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      When selecting lineups like these (and the all-star game) any guard, or forward can play either guard or forward spot. So despite playing small forward, he can be selected as a power-forward.

      Sorry for the later memo…

  3. pbanach01 - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    Melo is a beast in the mid-range game and that is something you need for international play. Plus if you watched the ’08 Olympics you would see he was one of the better players in those games. Melo didn’t fit well in Mike’s system but that should not and imo will not keep him off of the roster. He is a vet who is a serious weapon in the international game because of his shot and post game. Let’s stop the melo bashing and talk about who will win the guard spots for the olympics. Melo will be suiting up for the red, white and blue this summer.

  4. Filipe Furtado - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    I d guess Melo is along with Bosh, the two 2008 guys whose spot is more likely in jeopardy. Even two years ago that would be impossible, but now league changed enough one can’t claim they are sure things. I’d argue Melo’s star power is much higher than his percewptive value among basketball people (just think about how low Melo ranked in those players rankings that every site did during the lockout). In Melo’s case it is worth point out that team USA starting power forward will be Kevin Durant, a player with similar skillset to Melo who is both better and by now a bigger name. Melo can definitely backup both KD and Lebron as a 6th man, but I don’t think it’s a done deal, lots of PF options and wouldn’t surprise me if Iggy makes the team as Lebron’s main baclup and designated stopper as team USA seems to like to have a player that fits that profile. If everyone’s healthy Melo, Bosh, Love, LMA, Griffin, Odom and Chandler might be fighting for 3 bench spots. I’d argue that if there’s truly bad blood between Melo and D’Antoni and Coach K can make sure Kobe and Wade do suit (I m still not sold one of them will be okay coming of the bench) there might be enough scoring on second unity that dropping Melo might be very easy.

  5. 69jaredallen69 - Mar 20, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Kevin Love is a lock for the US Team…it doesn’t matter if Melo is a 4 or not he is going to London

  6. sellahh - Mar 20, 2012 at 6:05 PM

    Considering how team-based is the international play and how good of a teammate Melo is, I sure want to see him on Team USA.
    Oh wait…

  7. goforthanddie - Mar 20, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    Considering Mr. Vasquez has admitted playing harder for his new coach than his old one, thereby admitting a crappy work ethic…Add to that a crappy season thus far, Mr. Vasquez shouldn’t be a consideration.

  8. boilerup1869 - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    The US has so much freakin talent that you can easlily drop Melo (for being a turd) and still beat Lithuania by 45.

    • manwithpizza - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:37 PM

      This is 1996 thinking. It is true that the US still has the best team by a good margin. But it is not true (and hasn’t been true for a long time) that we can win games without trying, or without our best guys.

      Also remember that once we get to the quarter-finals it’s one game and you are out. The best team doesn’t always win a 1 game playoff, so it’s best to take our best players to make the odds as far in our favor as possible.

    • manwithpizza - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:44 PM

      We lost in 2004 and 2006 when we did not send all out best guys. Notable absences were Kobe, Shaq and Kevin Garnet.

  9. manwithpizza - Mar 20, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    It’s obvious to me the Blake should be the odd man out. In international ball you need at least 4 of your 5 guys to be legitimate threats to shoot from the outside at all times. Since we need Dwight on the floor for his D, Blake is out.

  10. jroll01971 - Mar 21, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    Melo deserves nothing he is cancer at this point he is Allen inversion reincarnated he couldn’t make it work with him because they are the same when a team kills it when ur out and they stink when ur in u are cancer especially if u are so called elite

  11. jroll01971 - Mar 21, 2012 at 4:14 AM


  12. skids003 - Mar 21, 2012 at 7:40 AM

    Drop Griffin and pick Melo? You have to be kidding?

  13. brianjoates - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:11 AM

    Since ’04 it has been Melo, Wade and Lebron, it is those 3 guys who have been the core of USA basketball. Yes, USA basketball owes it to those three to finish out this last Olympic games together. And if you heard any interviews post China games, all of the guys talked about how Melo was the real leader of the squad.

    And USA basketball should leave off Aldridge as Blake( along with Durant and Rose) will become the face of USA basketball, so he needs the exposure in this games to learn from the Vets on how to represent the country as a pro and become a leader.

    • sham13ert - Mar 21, 2012 at 12:15 PM

      Actually, it’s been Kidd who has been the leader of those teams. His veteran leadership has been indispensable, while his rebounding prowess and game management have been crucial in controlling the tempo of games. Kobe has been the best defender.

      James, Melo and Wade have been the wildcards sometimes finding it difficult to get into a rhythm offensively against mostly zone defenses that have been coached to play against the American team.

      Some of the younger guys might say they are the leaders, but Kidd and Kobe have been without a doubt the best players on the court.

      I’ll give you the fact that Melo was the best option at the 4 in china. Odom filled that role quite well in world championships. Aldridge is a wonderful stretch 4. Kevin Love offers the range of Melo, but is also a better defender on the block and rebounds better. Griffin doesn’t really belong in the convo because his game is suited for jumping over KIAs and catching alley-oops.

  14. tomtravis76 - Mar 21, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    And isn’t Boeheim a top assistant on Coack K’s staff for the London Olympics? Don’t you think he might have something to say about leaving Melo off that squad?

    Melo, Lebron and Wade are the three who committed to USA basketball in ’04. This idea that Melo is not one of the top talents in the league couldn’t be more wrong. Melo makes any team better.

  15. jagwar73 - Mar 21, 2012 at 8:49 PM


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