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Olympic roster gets another addition

NBA confident U.S. team will be ‘exceptional’

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LOS ANGELES — Call it the Olympic shuffle.

With a long list of veteran players, including ex-Jazz star Karl Malone, declining to play for one reason or another, USA Basketball's 2004 Summer Olympics entry keeps getting younger and younger.

The latest reported additions and subtraction: Miami's Dwayne Wade and Cleveland's Carlos Boozer in, Sacramento's Mike Bibby out.

"When the smoke clears, we're confident we'll have an exceptional team go to Athens," NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik said before Tuesday's Game 2 of the NBA Finals. "I think it's going to be a younger team than it initially looked like it was going to be, but that's OK."

"I just look at it as maybe a missed opportunity for guys that are dropping out, but an unbelievable chance for the guys that want to play," added Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown, who will coach the U.S. team this August at the Summer Games in Athens, Greece. "The more young kids with enthusiasm that are going to be our future, in my mind, the better off we can be."

Youngsters already on the team include Cleveland's LeBron James and Phoenix's Amare Stoudemire. Among those still under consideration: Denver's Carmelo Anthony, who like James and Wade just completed his rookie NBA season.

A formal announcement of roster additions is expected soon.

As it stands now, seven players are officially on the team and definitely plan to participate: San Antonio's Tim Duncan, Philadelphia's Allen Iverson, New York's Stephon Marbury, New Jersey's Richard Jefferson, Phoenix's Shawn Marion, James and Stoudemire.

But that list seemingly changes daily.

Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal has a spot, but it remains uncertain if he will play. Wade, Boozer and Detroit's Ben Wallace all reportedly will be added, meaning only one or two positions remain available.

As for the gold-winning chances of such a young club, no promises are being made.

Even Granik stammers when asked: "We think, in the end, we ought to . . . this team ought to be . . . we can't guarantee medals anymore with any team from the U.S, but certainly we think the team we're going to send out ought to be, and will be, competitive."

EUROPEAN EXPANSION: There are plans for new NBA-compatible arenas to perhaps be built in London and Berlin, but that's not enough for the league to consider expanding to Europe anytime soon, NBA commissioner David Stern said Tuesday.

"We need more than two venues, in my opinion, to have a successful European expansion," said Stern, who previously has sounded much more optimistic about overseas possibilities for the NBA.

FREELANCING: Jeanie Buss — executive vice president of business operations for the Lakers, daughter of Lakers owner Jerry Buss and girlfriend of Lakers coach Phil Jackson — reportedly told a radio interviewer in Los Angeles there is a "95 percent" chance Jackson returns to coach the Lakers next season.

That's news to Jackson, who was asked if perhaps his gal pal had inside info.

"No," Jackson said Tuesday. "She freelanced on it."

TRYING TIMES: Malone feels for longtime Jazz teammate and current Laker teammate Bryon Russell, who is finding postseason minutes few and far between.

"He's been going through a tough time," Malone said, "but he's handled himself as a professional every day."

Russell did play in Sunday's Game 1 or Tuesday's Game 2.

ASK AGAIN: The take from noted media-hater Rasheed Wallace of Detroit on the NBA fining Lakers guard Gary Payton $5,000 for not talking to media members Sunday or Monday? "I'm pretty sure it ain't no sweat off his back."

Wallace feels the league asks too much of players in terms of media cooperation, especially during the Finals.

"Pretty much, it's crazy," he said. "What different questions will you ask from today and tomorrow morning? What's going to be different? Nothing too much. You only can rephrase questions but so many times."

JAZZ SALE: The Jazz will hold a nothing-over-$10 sale of old uniforms, practice gear, warmup jackets and assorted other merchandise at its Fanzz Warehouse, 1832 West 2770 South in Salt Lake City. The sale runs from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. today and Thursday, and from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Friday.


E-mail: tbuckley@desnews.com