Stevens: Not worried 'one iota' about player injuries in FIBA World Cup




 

BOSTON -- The sight of Jayson Tatum hobbling on the Team USA sideline in the closing seconds of their 93-92 overtime win against Turkey was exactly what so many Celtics fans feared when the 12-man US roster included a quartet of C's players.

There's a tremendous amount of pride that Tatum and all those associated with Team USA take in being part of a group whose goal is to win a gold medal at the FIBA World Cup in China.

But they are still NBA players whose talents will be best utilized on an each of their team's roster when the season starts in a few weeks.

However, the Tatum left ankle sprain doesn't appear to be a major injury that will keep the 21-year-old out for an extended period of time.

"It feels better than when it first happened," Tatum told reporters after the Team USA win. "I can walk a little bit. Obviously, it's sore … just get some treatment and see how I feel."

There is indeed a risk-reward dynamic to Tatum's injury that has a place in the discussion about whether players should participate or whether they would be better suited to spend the offseason working out on their own or participating with a national team.

One of the biggest reasons there are four Celtics on the team is because several NBA players opted to not participate for an assortment of reasons.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens understands the arguments those in favor of players not participating on national teams will make.

No NBA team has the potential to be significantly impacted by an injury in this World Cup than the Celtics.

Still, Stevens has made it clear on more than one occasion that the potential for one of his players to get hurt in World Cup play is not something he's losing sleep over.

"To me there's risk in every workout, every five-on-five game, walking down the stairs …," Stevens told reporters at the ABCD Hoop Dreams basketball event at the Celtics' practice facility.

Stevens added, "End of the day, I'm not worried one iota about that. Basketball injuries can happen in a lot of different avenues, a lot of different ways, organized and unorganized."

As Boston gears up for another season, Stevens believes participating in the World Cup can only be a plus for his players on Team USA as well Germany (Daniel Theis) and France (Vincent Poirier) which gives Boston six players in the World Cup - more than any other NBA team.

"There is no better preparation than for these guys to get a chance to play," Stevens said. "We talked about it this morning. every game that's close, it's gonna be a tightness like you're on the road; like it's gonna be hard and that's the beautiful part of what they're doing.

Stevens added, "I can't think of a better way for those guys to prepare and jell together and then bring back what they learned. Because, the other thing is they're not playing against the same 29 teams they're used to playing against, that runs stuff they're used to playing against. It's totally different. It's fun to watch."

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Stevens: Not worried 'one iota' about player injuries in FIBA World Cup originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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