Tam USA loses Knicks’ Lee to finger injury
LAS VEGAS – The United States lost another big man Wednesday, as David Lee will miss the world championships because of an injured middle finger on his right hand.
USA Basketball said Lee will have his finger placed in a splint and could miss six weeks.
The All-Star forward is expected to be ready in time for the Golden State Warriors’ training camp.
Lee was hurt Tuesday, the first day of practice. He flew to San Francisco and was examined by Dr. Bill Green, who diagnosed him with “mallet finger,” and injury to the tendon.
Lee, who just signed a six-year, $80 million contract with the Warriors after averaging 20.3 points and 11.7 rebounds for the New York Knicks last season, was trying to earn a spot on the 12-player roster that will compete in Istanbul, Turkey from Aug. 28 to Sept. 12.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski said Lee would have been a strong candidate for the team.
“I feel badly for him because he really wanted to play,” U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “He even said, ‘Coach, I’ll see the doctor and I’ll even pay the expense of a private plane to get me down here.’ Last summer, he was going through contracts and he couldn’t play then, either.”
The Americans already are missing Amare Stoudemire and Robin Lopez, who were forced to pull out Tuesday. The Knicks asked Stoudemire to withdraw because of a problem insuring his contract, while Lopez is still rehabbing a back injury.
“We’re trying to find out who this team is,” Krzyzewski said. “If we had a philosophy coming in and you lose three big guys, our philosophy may have gone out the window. So we didn’t take that approach. We said, ‘Let’s see who we’re going to have, let’s watch them and develop a philosophy.’
“Yesterday was big in that we learned more about the guys. And it was a big disappointment with Lee. And obviously with Amare and Robin. Robin would have tried for an 11th or 12th spot. We don’t need our big guys to be scorers. We need our big guys to be shot blockers, rebounders and screeners. And Robin would have competed for that spot.”
The roster is down to 19 players and Krzyzewski said he doesn’t expect to name replacements.
“Instead of being across the board it’s all in one line,” Krzyzewski said. “We’d rather have them here and make a decision based on them being here. All three of those guys are good.
“Amare and David would have had significant roles. It makes us a little more perimeter oriented. We’re heavy in the perimeter. At times, you might see three guards out there. We didn’t know until this morning the final decision on David. If he’s here then we are looking at different things.”
One of the lineups Krzyzewski looked at was comprised of guards Rajon Rondo, Chauncey Billups and Kevin Durant, and forwards Rudy Gay and Lamar Odom, with Gay playing where Stoudemire would have been.
“On paper, it’s not the way to choose a team,” Krzyzewski said. “I mean you look at it and then you watch it. That’s what we’re trying to do as coaches; say what we now need to watch, and with Lee being gone we even had Durant at a 4. We’re going to be an unconventional team.
“Or don’t call any of them anything. You could have (forward Jeff) Green, Gay and Odom in the front line and who is the 3, 4 or 5? That’s what I mean about unconventional. That’s kind of what we’re looking at with the guards, and Durant being the pillar we can start building the team on, and I think Odom. So, how do you mix them up? That is what we are trying to do.”