As we've mentioned before, Chauncey Billups, Tayshaun Prince and Rip Hamilton have all been in talks with Jerry Colangelo regarding joining Team USA to play in the upcoming 2006 World Championships and 2008 Olympics.
Much of the recent discussion has centered around whether or not Billups would accept an invitation, but MLive.com has a report today indicating that Prince and Hamilton will likely pull their names from consideration:
Prince spoke recently with Colangelo, and reiterated his reservations about the three-year commitment players would have to make to be part of Team USA. Prince is concerned that the long-term commitment might interfere with Detroit's quest for winning an NBA title or two.
"Who knows if we (the Pistons) go all the way (through the playoff) to June, and a couple of weeks after we finish, this starts up," Prince said. "If you think about playing for a gold medal, of course, you'll be like, `yeah, I'm for that.' You want to represent your country and USA basketball. But, we're trying to win a title every year."
Prince is the only Piston to appear in every game since the 2003-2004 season.
"The last couple of years, I've played 100-and-something games (a season) and hopefully, I'll do the same this year," Prince said. "If I commit to this, then my whole summer is going to be booked, and then I'll have to turn right back around and start playing another 100-and-something games. That's the most important thing for me to think about."
It's seems obvious that Prince and Hamilton have been discussing this, as Hamilton nearly echoed Prince with the same concerns:
"We feel as though we have a team that can play into the (NBA) Finals every year," said Hamilton, who will also probably turn down Colangelo's invitation. "So that means right after the season, you're playing. And right after that, you're playing for another season. You don't want to tire yourself out and things like that. So it's definitely something me, and all the guys they're talking to on this team, have to think about."
As a Pistons fan, I'm torn: I'd like to see Detroit represented on Team USA, though not quite as much as I'd love for this team to make a few more trips to the NBA Finals. And honestly, who doesn't believe that is possible right now? Assuming Ben Wallace re-signs this summer, the starting lineup, which already has the best chemistry in the league, should remain intact for at least the next few years.
We'll have to wait and see what everyone decides, but I can respect either decision. Not every player has the opportunity to represent his country, but not every team has the chance to play at an elite level for several years in a row.