The USA Basketball Selection committee held a conference call
Tuesday to choose several replacement players on a roster that will
be missing several of the best American players.
Three sources with knowledge of the selection committee's
actions, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the U.S.
federation had decided to add the 19-year-old James, the NBA's
Rookie of the Year from the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the likely
replacement at shooting guard for Kobe Bryant.
The Cavaliers said James would accept the invitation and make a
public comment Wednesday.
The committee is still awaiting definitive word from Shaquille
O'Neal, who has said his decision will depend in part on how far
the Los Angeles Lakers advance in the NBA playoffs.
"A lot of guys that were selected are now up in the air," U.S.
coach Larry Brown said, "but I feel comfortable with the guys I'm
going to go with."
Malone has not officially withdrawn, though he has made it clear
that nobody should expect to see him in Athens.
Bryant has said it is unlikely he will play, though he left his
options open in the event his sexual assault trial in Colorado is
scheduled for September or later.
Sources told the AP that if Shaquille O'Neal decides to sit out
the Olympics, Kenyon Martin of New Jersey and Lamar Odom of Miami
are among the players being discussed as possible replacements. If
Bibby withdraws, Sam Cassell is the leading candidate to replace
him, and Ron Artest and Carmelo Anthony are among the names being
discussed to replace McGrady, if he backs out.
James will become the youngest member of the team.
He averaged 20.9 points, 5.9 assists and 5.8 rebounds for the
Cleveland Cavaliers, becoming one of the league's top road
attractions while leading the revitalization of that franchise.
Marbury, an eight-year veteran point guard for the New York
Knicks, previously played for USA Basketball in 1994 at the Junior
Marion, a five-year NBA veteran, was a member of the U.S.
national team that finished a disappointing sixth at the 2002 World
Championships. That team was the first American team with NBA
players to lose at an international competition since professional
players began competing at the Olympics in 1992.
"The four years that have transpired since Sydney, the teams
have gotten better, the players have gotten better," Brown said.
"And maybe we're not sending the very best, but we'll be well
represented and I'm confident they'll do well."