Utah Jazz: Jazz duo likely headed to Beijing
The official announcement won't come until Monday, but USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo all but confirmed Friday that the Jazz's Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams will be making the trip to Beijing as members of the Olympic team.
"They are two highly thought-of candidates to be on the team," Colangelo said in a phone interview with The Tribune. "We've said that all along, but we're not pre-announcing anything."
Colangelo confirmed that he would be keeping three point guards on the U.S. roster - expected to be Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Williams - and said he was still in the process of notifying players who were going to be on the 12-man team.
The pool of players under consideration was reduced by two this week when Chauncey Billups withdrew, citing family reasons, and Amare Stoudemire decided against a full summer of basketball only three years removed from microfracture knee surgery. Williams played last summer as the U.S. cruised to gold at an Olympic qualifying tournament in Las Vegas. He served as the No. 3 point guard behind Kidd and Billups and went on to earn second-team all-NBA honors with the Jazz last season.
"He continues to get better and better," Colangelo said. "He's a young player and the biggest thing you can say about his game is his peers in the league look at him as a young Jason Kidd with even more offensive skills."
A two-time All-Star, Boozer did not play for the U.S. either of the past two summers, but Colangelo said the Jazz forward was fully committed last year before pulling out with his infant son set to undergo a bone marrow transplant.
"He gets strong consideration because of his previous international experience," Colangelo said of Boozer, who played on the U.S.'s bronze-medal winning team at the 2004 Olympics. "His size as a post-up player brings something to the table
that deserves strong consideration."
Boozer and Williams would join the U.S.'s confirmed roster that includes Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, Dwight Howard, Tayshaun Prince, Michael Redd, Kidd and Paul.
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor declined to comment until Colangelo and U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski make their official announcement Monday.
The Jazz are planning a news conference expecting one or both players to be chosen.
Williams will be expected to compete with Paul - the NBA's MVP runner-up last season with New Orleans - for playing time as Kidd's backup. In addition, Colangelo suggested Williams could play at shooting guard in certain situations.
"We think that one of them can play both positions at times depending on matchups," Colangelo said. "So you could have two so-called listed point guards on the court at the same time."
Notes: The Jazz will hold draft workouts today and Sunday.
Utah State's Jaycee Carroll headlines a group of six potential second-round prospects who will work out today.