Not long after Washington Wizards fans started making preseason plans and deciding what they would do in their down time until training camp leading up to the October 5th 2010-11 preseason opener, the AP’s Brian Mahoney Tweeted that Brook Lopez of the New Jersey Nets would be pulling out of the FIBA World Championships as he continues to recover from mono. His replacement? JaVale McGee.
Now, it’s unclear if this means that McGee has made the final roster of 12 players, or if he’s just replaced Lopez amongst the cut of 15 that now includes Chauncey Billups, Tyson Chandler, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Rudy Gay, Eric Gordon, Danny Granger, Jeff Green, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Love, Lamar Odom, Rajon Rondo, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook, in addition to McGee.
Common sense would say that, since Team USA was already thin at the center position, McGee will straight up replace Lopez. But what’s common sense worth anyway? Team director Jerry Colangelo has said that they might take a couple of extra players with them as they travel to Europe before the tournament. Team USA is scheduled to play exhibition matches against Lithuania on August 21 and against Spain on August 22 (both to be held in Madrid, Spain). They will play a final exhibition game against Greece in Athens on August 25 before arriving in Turkey, which is kinda in both Europe and Asia … Eurasia, for the FIBA tournament the next day, which is essentially when Colangelo will be required to submit an official roster of 12.
But first, McGee will report to New York City by next Tuesday, August 10, for continued training with the team, including an exhibition game against France on Sunday August 15 at 1 p.m. (EDT) at Madison Square Garden. Yi Jianlian and the Chinese team will take on Puerto Rico following the USA-France game.
So, it’s yet to be seen if McGee will be afforded the opportunity to play in for real, for real international competition … but in the least, we’re guaranteed to see several more scenes like the one below — McGee being mentored by a great NBA vet and training against some of the top talent in the world. In the basketball doldrums that’s usually the entire month of August, the bare minimum scenario is a pleasant surprise that’s more than Wizards fans could ask for.