NEW ORLEANS As of this season, Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer is a two-time NBA All-Star. He may soon become a two-time U.S. Olympian as well.
And Jazz point guard Deron Williams?
Though already a national-team member, his hopes for playing in this year's Summer Games in China may be a tougher hill to climb.
Jerry Colangelo, managing director of USA Basketball's senior men's national program, spoke glowingly Friday of Boozer, who will play in Sunday's All-Star Game here.
"His game is something we don't have much on that roster you know, a power forward with an inside post-up game," said Colangelo, who is in New Orleans for All-Star Weekend.
"We really wanted him last summer," Colangelo added. "It would have been a great addition. And he just couldn't do it."
Boozer an Olympian at the 2004 Games in Greece spent last offseason caring for his young son Carmani, who has been battling sickle cell anemia.
He missed playing alongside Williams for the U.S. in FIBA's Americas zone qualifying tournament, which was held in Las Vegas.
"After they got back from Vegas, I talked to Coach K (Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski, who also was Boozer's coach at Duke University) about it, and I talked to Jerry (Colangelo) about it, and they wanted to add me to the team," Boozer said. "I told them I'd love to be on it. I planned on going this past summer, but with my situation with my son I couldn't make it."
Boozer definitely will be part of a 17- or 18-prospect mini-camp that will be held in late June at Las Vegas, Colangelo said.
He'll probably be joined there by the 12 members of last summer's team, including Williams; New Orleans point Chris Paul, Miami guard Dwyane Wade and Toronto big man Chris Bosh, all of whom did not play internationally in 2007 due to injuries; and one or two others.
From that pool, Colengelo and crew will select the U.S.'s 12-member Olympic team and three alternates.
"I'm not worried about it," Boozer said when asked Friday about making the final 12-man roster. "I'm gonna go out there and play hard, and have fun, and hopefully be on the team, then go from there."
Williams, meanwhile, might wind up having to fend off Paul for the job of No. 3 point behind veterans Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups.
"I'm a big Williams fan," Colangelo said. "I think he's a terrific player, and a great understudy with Jason Kidd ... He took (Williams) under his wing last summer."
Nothing, though, is guaranteed to Williams, Colangelo suggested.
"It's gonna be difficult to select the final spots," he said.
"Those are the tough decisions regarding nine, 10, 11 12, or 10, 11, 12 on the roster and who are the alternates," Colangelo said. "So, I just say Deron Williams is a big part of USA Basketball's future."
Williams does have the advantage of size over Paul, but Paul beat out Williams for a spot on the Western Conference team in Sunday's All-Star Game.
"He is what he is," Colangelo said of Paul, selected one spot behind Williams in the 2005 NBA Draft making virtually everything he and Williams do a cause for constant comparison.
"He's not gonna grow between now and July," Colangelo said. "But Chris Paul is gonna come in there and make things very interesting."
For his part, Williams fully expects to protect his roster position.
"I've never got cut from a team, so I like my chances," he said Friday.
"I think I impressed the coaches last year," Williams said. "I think I can bring a lot to the team, whether I'm playing five minutes or 20. Whatever they need me to do, I'm there for the team. I can be a cheerleader if they want me to."
As for Boozer, he'll be rooting chiefly for the U.S. to do what it could not in Athens.
Win, that is, Olympic gold.
"We didn't get a chance to make an impact on it," Boozer said of he and then-teammates LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, current NBA All-Stars who played sparingly on the 2004 team."We wished we would have had a chance to do it again and play more, and maybe we would have won the gold medal," Boozer said.
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