JaVale McGee to get cut again?
If Team USA's closed scrimmage against China was a sign of things to come, then that doesn't bode well for two players with connections to D.C. Wizards center JaVale McGee and former Georgetown star and Hyattesville native Jeff Green were both kept out of the game, which the United States handily won, 98-51, at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski tried to downplay the significance of the decision. When asked if the benchings were a negative for either player, Krzyzewski said, "I don't know what a negative is." He then added, "We already know what JaVale and Jeff can do."
But it wasn't a good sign for either player in such a lopsided game, in which the U.S. was hardly challenged by a Chinese team led by Wizards forward Yi Jianlian. Yi was the only player to score in double-figures for China, as he finished with a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds. And, the U.S. spent most of the game forcing turnovers and sprinting down the court for uncontested dunks and layups. The Americans dominated the third period, taking advantage of Yi's absence to outscore China, 35-8. With his team having its way, Krzyzewski never seemed interested in letting Green or McGee get garbage time.
Team USA has until Aug. 26 to select its final 12-man roster, but Krzyzewski said he wasn't sure when they would cut the remaining three players. McGee -- who was cut last month after the first training session in Las Vegas and was added only after Brook Lopez removed himself because of illness -- still has a chance of traveling with the team to Europe as insurance in case either starting center Tyson Chandler or Lamar Odom gets hurt. The U.S. will play France on Sunday in an exhibition game at Madison Square Garden before leaving for Spain.
"We want to go through tomorrow and not make decisions that we'll regret a week from now," Krzyzewski said. "A week from now, we'll be playing Lithuania (Aug. 21) and Spain (Aug. 22) in Madrid. And that type of situation will give us much more knowledge of how to pick the 12."
The game against France appears to be critical for both Green and McGee -- with them appearing to be obvious cuts, barring injuries -- but the other players on the bubble appear to be Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon or possibly Russell Westbrook given the wealth of point guard talent on the roster.
Krzyzewski said he was interested in seeing how the team would look with Chandler and Odom getting practically all of the time at center. But it had to be a little disconcerting for McGee when Krzyzewski sent in a lineup to start the final period with Kevin Durant -- yes, Kevin Durant -- at center as the team utilized a two-three zone. Krzyzewski said the "last period is all experimentation," but those experiments did not include McGee or Green.
Durant said he was little shocked to play center -- especially with China putting 7-foot-3 center Zhang Zhaoxu on the floor. "Coach wanted to try something different," Durant said. "Of course, I'm not used to playing the five, but it was fun, being the general on defense. Kind of being the guy in the driver's seat."
McGee said he didn't expect to sit the entire game. "They just said we are going to play four quarters," McGee said, when asked what he told before the game. "It's definitely disappointing not to play, but we got the win. So, it's whatever."
McGee said he was impressed with the play of his new teammate Yi. "He's a great player. He was the go-to player here and just doing his thing."
August 14, 2010; 11:52 PM ET
Categories: JaVale McGee , Yi Jianlian
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