Anthony Davis is reportedly the latest player to suffer an injury that will keep him out of the London Olympics, seemingly opening the possibility that the Jazz's Derrick Favors could be selected to replace him on the 12-man roster for Team USA as it seeks to defend its gold medal.
However, a close with direct knowledge of the situation told The Salt Lake Tribune that it's “highly unlikely.”
Davis, the No. 1 pick of the New Orleans Hornets, suffered a severely sprained ankle during a workout on Saturday and “almost assuredly” will pull out of consideration for the team, according to Yahoo! Sports — although the Times-Picayune of New Orleans said one source indicated the ankle was “lightly sprained” and the Hornets issued a statement that said the 6-foot-10 shot-blocker is “day-to-day” and will be re-evaluated later in the week.
If Davis cannot play, that would deplete Team USA even more in the frontcourt.
Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge and Chris Bosh already had pulled out due to injuries, leaving just four other players in the 16-man pool of finalists who are 6-foot-10 or taller — Tyson Chandler, Kevin Love, Blake Griffin and Lamar Odom.
The 6-10 Favors and 6-11 DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings already have been named to the “Select Team” that will practice against Team USA in its preparations for London, which begin Friday in Las Vegas. Favors could be viewed as a strong candidate to move up because of his size and shot-blocking ability, and he doesn't have the same perceived baggage as Cousins, who has said that he intends to play his way onto the Olympic roster.
But it's not known whether USA Basketball could use one of them to replace Davis, even if they wanted to do so, and international drug testing issues could also be a major hurdle.
The federation had to submit a list of finalists for its Olympic roster in May, and a source told the Tribune that it might be impossible for players can be added to that now.
Furthermore, the source told the Tribune that USA Basketball officials are extremely confident in its remaining finalists, and might not choose to replace Davis, if they want him on the final roster. It's possible that a less severe ankle sprain could heal significantly by the time the Americans play France in their opener on July 29, and Davis would not be expected to play a ton, anyway, as a likely 12th man.
Officials from the federation could not be reached immediately for comment.
But Sam Amick of SI.com wrote on Twitter that managing director Jerry Colangelo said that “just getting a report that his ankle is serious doesn't mean anything to me until we get an official doctor's report on what that means. Does it mean he can't practice for a week? Does it mean he's out for a month? You know what I'm saying. I don't like to speculate.”
Players are scheduled to report to Las Vegas on Thursday, in advance of the opening of their pre-Olympic training camp at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center on Friday. Officials have scheduled a press conference at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino on Saturday to announce the Olympic roster.
Michael C. Lewis
Brian T. Smith contributed reporting