|Rajon Rondo said he was never called to participate in Team USA tryouts. (Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff)|
Rondo omission ‘miscommunication’
Celtic says he’d love to play for Team USA
DALLAS - When Rajon Rondo wasn’t among the 27 names on the roster for the 2010-12 USA men’s basketball team, the perception was Rondo either hadn’t responded to Team USA’s invitation or that he declined.
Rondo said he never got a call.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone from USA Basketball,’’ Rondo said. “No one’s talked to my agent. I talked to my agent yesterday, and he said the same thing. He thought I said something to the media or to someone about declining to play. But I haven’t heard anything this year about USA Basketball.’’
Yesterday, both Rondo and Team USA managing director Jerry Colangelo said Rondo’s omission was the result of crossed signals. Colangelo expressed interest in having Rondo on the team, and Rondo said he would “love’’ to play.
“There may have been a little miscommunication on that one,’’ Colangelo said. “The last go-around he was unable to accept an invitation because he was going to be involved in Kendrick Perkins’s wedding. I was advised that he would not have interest but that may have been misinformation.
“But he’s a young player and there will be an opportunity in the future and we have a fluid roster to begin with. I’ve made that pretty clear. So we will revisit that. The door’s not closed.’’
Because of the wedding, neither Rondo nor Perkins worked out with Team USA last year.
“I don’t know if they took that as I didn’t want to play because I had other obligations or priorities,’’ Rondo said. “I was in the wedding, so neither of us could make it.’’
After winning gold in 2008, Chris Paul and Deron Williams are on the roster again, joined by Derrick Rose and Chauncey Billups, who withdrew from the selection process in 2008. Colangelo made reference to the team’s depth at point guard. “I believe in equity,’’ he said. “There are a lot of young point guards, and they’ve put in the time and effort.’’
Rondo is having his best season as a pro, averaging 14.3 points, 9.7 assists (fourth in the league), and 2.5 steals.
“It would be an honor to play,’’ he said. “I would go.’’
But Billy Hunter said that doesn’t mean the league is closer to a lockout when the current deal expires July 1, 2011.
“No, I think that everybody has a different sense of things and nobody wants to see this thing that David Stern has worked and built, the NBA, the successful entity that it is, the brand, we’re not out to damage it or destroy it,’’ Hunter said.
“So we’re going to make every effort to get an agreement done, we just want an agreement that’s a lot more equitable and one that doesn’t have a structure that’s oppressive.’’
Hunter said the union received the proposal Jan. 29. It calls for dramatic financial changes, with Hunter saying the league seeks a “hard’’ salary cap that would eliminate the Larry Bird and midlevel exceptions that teams over the cap can use to sign players if they are willing to pay a luxury tax.
A person who had seen the proposal told the Associated Press it called for first-round picks to have their salaries cut by about one-third, would reduce the minimum salary by as much as 20 percent, and would guarantee contracts for only half their value. Also, the total value of a maximum salary would drop sharply.
The proposal rallied the players, especially after Hunter forwarded them comments from an executive who recently told CBSSports.com that, “if they don’t like the new max contracts, LeBron [James] can play football, where he will make less than the new max. [Dwyane] Wade can be a fashion model or whatever. They won’t make squat and no one will remember who they are in a few years.’’
“Sheed and I have such an unbelievable respect for each other that he knew when it was time to get down there, I was going to demand that he get down there,’’ Billups said. “I think it takes time, though. He’s only been there [Boston] for a little while, and I don’t know if he has that same respect for anybody on the team like that yet. I don’t know. But I had a good way of getting him down there.’’
In his years with Billups, Wallace shot no less than 42.3 percent from the floor and 31.8 percent from 3-point range.
This year, he’s shooting 40.8 percent and 29.6 percent, respectively, excelling when he takes opponents to the block but struggling with his outside shot.
Both teams were on the list of this year’s Hall of Fame finalists.
Johnson paid homage to the 1960 team. “They set the standard,’’ Johnson said. “Their team was probably more balanced than our team.’’
On how a fantasy matchup between the teams would play out, Johnson said, “It would have been outstanding. We probably would have bit each others’ heads off and really hurt each other because we both want to win so bad.’’
Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone were also named finalists. Pippen and Jordan won six championships together in Chicago, beating John Stockton and two-time MVP Malone for two of them.
Chris Mullin, another Dream Team member, the late Dennis Johnson, coach Don Nelson, and four-time WNBA champion Cynthia Cooper are among the returning finalists. Also on the list: Lakers owner Jerry Buss, Bernard King, and Jamaal Wilkes.
Material from the AP was used; Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.