Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said he’s “not concerned” about the plantar fasciitis that kept newly acquired Kristaps Porzingis out of FIBA play this summer and said the team is “planning on having him on Day 1 of training camp” in October.
Porzingis is currently overseas with the Latvian national team but is being held out of the competition after being diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The Celtics said in mid-August that he would engage in a four-to-six week rehab program with hopes of being cleared for the start of camp.
Stevens, making an appearance on WEEI as part of the station’s yearly Jimmy Fund radio-telethon, downplayed concern about Porzingis’ health.
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"I'm not concerned about that,” said Stevens. “He's doing his rehab [at the FIBA championships]. We were with him, our training staff was with him in the 10 days as he was diagnosed with plantar fascia. He went through all the progressions. He really tried to ramp up and play and just determined like, 'I don't want to deal with lingering effects down the road.' So this is something that we should be able to navigate and manage in the next few weeks and be ready for training camp.
“We're planning on having him on Day 1 of training camp. But he really wanted to try to ramp up because it really mattered to be there. I don't know if you saw the clip of him the other day, when Latvia [eliminated France] and he's kind of behind the bench — it was a huge win, as big of a win probably as they've had in a while — and just the genuine joy and emotion. Those guys that represent their countries, they really enjoy that opportunity. So he was heartbroken not to do it. But he put the opportunity here and took away any chance of having lingering effects by addressing it now and it shouldn't be a big deal.”
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Stevens reaffirmed the team’s desire to get bigger with the addition of Porzingis while reflecting on the deal to acquire the former All-Star.
“The part that was very obvious. He’s 7-foot-3, he can play the 5 and the 4 and he can play with any of our 5s and 4s, which I think is important, right?” said Stevens. "When you're talking about bringing in somebody that's just a center, it's hard to play them and Rob [Williams III] together, right? But if you bring in somebody that has the skill set that Kristaps has, has the skill set that Al (Horford) has, now you can mix and match a little bit and you can stay bigger, longer.
"And I think that that's something that we couldn't do as much last year with our smaller groups, because a lot of our best players are guards, and so we just ended up playing small. I do think you've got to be able to do both, gotta have some optionality to do both. But when we were hurt on the front line, we were thin.”
Stevens detailed again how tough it was to send out Marcus Smart as part of the Porzingis acquisition but bottom-lined the decision.
Said Stevens: “Ultimately, our job is to try to chase banners. That’s what we're trying to do, and we think this team will be in the mix again.”