Celtics

Celtics

BOSTON – For most of the Boston Celtics, the past few days of training camp have afforded them an opportunity to shake off a summer’s worth of rust and get back into a playing rhythm.

Not so for Kelly Olynyk, who spent most of the summer playing with the Canadian National Team.

And that in some ways may give him a leg-up in the early going as the 7-footer joins an extremely crowded front court of players who will all be vying for minutes this season.

“I’m in pretty good shape, ready to roll,” said Olynyk who will be among the players to keep an eye on tonight when the Celtics hold an open practice for season ticket holders at the TD Garden.

However, that optimism wasn’t quite as high a few weeks ago when Olynyk suffered a knee injury in an exhibition game with Team Canada.

The injury sidelined him for a few games and once again raised the injury concerns many NBA executives – probably the most vocal being Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban – have about their players competing for their national teams.

Olynyk’s left knee injury was certainly a moment to pause and give some thought to his participation with Team Canada, but he said there was never any talk about him not continuing to play.

“They want you to play basketball, they want you to get better,” Olynyk said. “If it’s something serious, we probably wouldn’t have kept going. We thought we had it under control and I was able to contribute to the team.”

 

Team Canada’s goal was to qualify for the Olympics, but they fell short of that following a controversial 79-78 loss to Venezuela earlier this month in the FIBA Americas Qualifying Tournament in Mexico City.

Olynyk had his best game of the tournament that night, scoring a game-high 34 points to go with 13 rebounds.  

But it was the ending that most – especially Team Canada – will remember.

In the game’s closing seconds, Venezuela was looking to win the game with its final shot. Heissler Guillent missed a shot at the buzzer and the game appeared to be heading into overtime.

However, a foul was called on Canada’s Aaron Doornekamp with 0.03 seconds to play that gave Venezuela a pair of free throws with one being knocked down to secure the win.

Canada will get another shot at qualifying for the Olympics in July as part of a world qualifying tournament which will award the final three Olympic spots.

That means whenever the Celtics season ends, Olynyk will likely continue playing with the Canadian National Team.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who may be in line to someday be part of Team USA’s coaching staff, fully supports Olynyk and any of his players who want to compete for their respective country.

“I don’t think there’s any negative about that,” Stevens said. “I’m a big believer in the international experience. I realize there are risks that come with that, but it’s a great opportunity for these guys and they’ll always be supported from my end to play in it.”