The Boston Celtics will be well represented when Team USA opens training camp in Las Vegas next month and it could be the start of repairing the chemistry troubles that plagued the team last season.
Marcus Smart excitedly tweeted about his invite Monday and noted how he’d be joining teammates Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. Jaylen Brown has also been added to the training camp roster, according to Shams Charania.
There is the slim possibility that the Celtics will account for a third of the 12 total roster spots for the group that Team USA ultimately takes to China for World Cup play starting on Sept. 1. Three more Celtics players — Daniel Theis (Germany), Vincent Poirier (France), and Semi Ojeleye (Nigeria) — are expected to be on Cup rosters.
After last season’s debacle, Team USA provides an opportunity for newcomer Walker to bond a bit with his new Celtics teammates. It’s a head start before players start trickling back to Boston in late August and early September in advance of the official start of training camp.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a horde of Celtics players mingling with some of the best young talent in the NBA. Boston players are like the old card slappers that once lined the Vegas strip, discreetly spreading the gospel of Brad Stevens and telling other stars why Boston could eventually be a good spot for them.
Scoff if you want, but one of the indelible images of Team USA at the 2016 Olympics in Rio was Kevin Durant and DeAndre Jordan hobnobbing at every turn. Three years later, Durant, Jordan, and fellow Team USA buddy Kyrie Irving are teammates in Brooklyn. These experiences create lasting bonds.
Yes, the list of elite stars participating has thinned out but Boston’s contingent can get friendly with the likes of Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell, and Myles Turner. Boston’s players will also get a chance to work with Gregg Popovich, a noted Brad Stevens pal.
The World Cup certainly doesn’t carry quite the same heft as Olympic years but that might not be a bad thing for Boston players. They can fraternize and bond in a low-pressure environment.
In the bigger picture, it’s an encouraging sign about the way Boston’s talent is viewed with multiple invites. It suggests that outsiders still put a high value on the potential of Boston’s young core. Walker was a slam dunk invite but it bodes well for 21-year-old Tatum, 22-year-old Brown, and 25-year-old Smart.
Last year’s Celtics never got the chemistry right. Team USA is a chance for Boston to start its own Redeem Team.
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