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Kidd Takes Hill's Spot For USA

Grant Hill's upcoming wedding opened a spot for Jason Kidd on the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team.

Kidd was among the nine players officially selected to the qualifying team today by USA Basketball.

The others, all of whom are expected to remain on the team for the 2000 Olympics, are Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Gary Payton, Tim Hardaway, Steve Smith, Tom Gugliotta, Allan Houston and Vin Baker.

Hill, who was among the original nine selections, opted not to play in this summer's qualifying tournament July 14-25 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, because it conflicts with the date of his planned marriage to the singer Tamia.

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Kidd, the league leader in assists and one of the flashiest players in the NBA, gave his commitment late last week.

Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich will coach the U.S. squad in both the qualifying tournament and the Olympics.

Three non-NBA players will be added later this year to the team for the qualifying tournament. The United States must finish first or second in that tournament to qualify for the 2000 Olympics.

Three NBA players will be added to the Olympic team after the 1999-2000 season, with Shaquille O'Neal almost certain to receive one of those spots.

Hill, Scottie Pippen and Karl Malone are among the early candidates for the other two spots.

If the U.S. qualifies, it will use NBA players in the Olympics for the third time.

The original Dream Team won the gold medal in the 1992 Olympics at Barcelona, and an American team comprised entirely of professionals won the gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

A team of NBA players was selected to represent the United States in last summer's World Championships at Athens, but those players were replaced when they would not commit to playing in the event of a lockout by the owners.

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