Double Dribble

An NBA blog from Newsday's Bobby Bonett

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Team USA basketball injuries piling up

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, leaves the

Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, left, leaves the court after the Magic's 119-89 win over the Detroit Pistons. (April 9, 2012) (Credit: AP)

When USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo pared down the U.S. men's basketball field to 20 players in January, he probably didn't envision needing reinforcements to fill out a 12-man final roster. But with Dwight Howard's season-ending back injury presumably keeping him on the sidelines for the London Olympics, the U.S. is now up to four players from the original field that will be unable to play in the summer.

In addition to Howard, Chauncey Billups is out with a torn Achilles, LaMarcus Aldridge will probably be unavailable following surgery on his right hip, and the saga surrounding Lamar Odom will keep the banished Maverick off the roster.

Of the four players expected to miss the Games, three are big men: Howard, Aldridge and Odom. That leaves Colangelo with just four front line options: Tyson Chandler, Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, and Kevin Love.

And don't assume Love is a definite, either. The Timberwolves power forward suffered a concussion on April 11, and still hasn't been cleared to play. While the Olympics are still three months away, there are plenty of cases -- Sidney Crosby, for example -- of professional athletes who have had prolonged absences due to a head injury.

The other 12 finalists are Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Dwyane Wade, Rudy Gay, Andre Iguodala, Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James and Kevin Durant.

Colangelo could opt to add to the finalists, though.

Accoding to a report by Chris Tomasson of FOX Sports Florida, Colangelo said he "won't rule out adding some additional people." Colangelo added, though, that "It's too early to say that we will do that."

Among the U.S. big men not already on the roster are Lakers center Andrew Bynum, Jazz center Al Jefferson, Hawks power forward Josh Smith, and a real wildcard, Kings power forward DeMarcus Cousins.

The various injuries aren't the only blow that has been dealt to Team USA this summer. Three of the four U.S. coaches had less-than-desirable endings to their season: Mike D'Antoni was fired by the Knicks, Nate McMillan was fired by the Blazers, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski's Duke Blue Devils were shocked by 15-seed Lehigh in the first round of the NCAA tourney.

Jim Boeheim, D'Antoni and McMillan are the three assistants.

As noted by Tomasson, Colangelo will meet with the Team USA coaching staff in May 1, and the idea of adding players could be brought up then.

The team opens training on July 6 in Las Vegas, and opens up exhibition play with the Dominican Republic on July 12 at UNLV. 

Tip-off in London is on July 29.

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