DALLAS — Mike Krzyzewski, who led the “Redeem Team” to Olympic gold in 2008, said Monday the upcoming London Games will be his last as the U.S. men’s basketball head coach.
Whether he can cap his national-team career with a second Olympic gold could be affected by the shortened NBA season.
Because of injuries to NBA players who were in the Olympic team pool, USA Basketball asked the U.S. Olympic Committee to extend its deadline for naming the team, as first reported by USA TODAY Sports last week.
The team now will be named on July 7. The previous deadline was June 18.
“We know exactly where we want to be, but we need to take inventory of what status our players have,” USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo said Monday at the U.S. Olympic media summit. “We need to get through this playoff season and pray and keep our fingers crossed that we don’t have additional injuries.”
The original 20-man preliminary roster from January already has lost four players to injury: Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose, Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups and Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
Because of the losses, USA Basketball also got the USOC’s permission to add two more players to the preliminary roster â(euro) “ Oklahoma City James Harden and University of Kentucky center Anthony Davis.
The new final-roster deadline will give USA Basketball a chance to observe players in training camp for two days before naming the team.
“It’s not a tryout,” Colangelo said. “It’s more about taking inventory about where each individual is in terms of health.”
Because the lockout-shortened NBA season required players to compete more frequently, including some back-to-back-to-back games, Krzyzewski said making sure players are rested and ready for the Olympics will be paramount.
“The key for us during the first couple weeks is that we get them fresh mentally, emotionally and physically,” he said.
The team’s biggest concern, Krzyzewski said, is the dearth of big men. He expects Davis’ biggest contribution, if he makes the team, to come on the defensive end, he said.
Krzyzewski coached the U.S. team to Olympic gold in 2008 and to world championships gold in 2010, re-establishing the U.S. men’s power in the international game.
“I think this is the last time,” he said of coaching in London. “I hope we can win the gold medal.”
If the U.S. men do win, Krzyzewski would become the first U.S. men’s basketball coach to win back-to-back Olympic golds since Hank Iba in 1964 and 1968.
The departure of Krzyzewski could ensure Colangelo will stay at USA Basketball through another Olympic cycle.
“I think it’s important, for a lot of reasons, to maintain continuity,” Colangelo said. “So I’m leaning that way.”