Kristaps Portzingis has yet to step onto the court as a member of the Boston Celtics.
But Brad Stevens’ top offseason pickup is already dealing with injury issues, as the 7-foot-3 big man was ruled out of playing in the FIBA World Cup with his native Latvia due to plantar fasciitis in his right foot, which will keep him on the sidelines for several weeks.
Given both Porzingis’ lengthy injury and the ominous implications regarding foot ailments for NBA big men, it’s to be expected for Celtics fans to hold their breath over Porzingis’ availability going into the 2023-24 NBA season.
But speaking on WEEI’s “Jones and Mego” show as part of the NESN/WEEI Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, Stevens stressed that the Celtics aren’t worried about Porzingis’ status entering his first year with Boston.
“I’m not concerned about that,” Stevens said of Porzingis’ foot issue. “He’s at the FIBA Tournament with the team so he’s doing his rehab there. We were with him in the 10 days, our training staff was with him [before the tournament] as he was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. He went through all the progressions and he really tried to ramp up and play. He just determined he didn’t want to deal with lingering effects down the road.
“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 for Day 1 of training camp. He really wanted to try the ramp-up because it really mattered to be there [at the World Cup].”
Stevens acknowledged that the Celtics were not aware of Porzingis’ plantar fasciitis at the time of their blockbuster trade with the Wizards that also saw Marcus Smart dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies.
However, Stevens added that the team doesn’t believe Porzingis’ current injury is something that could severely impact his career, especially when weighed against other far more concerning ailments such as a broken bone or recurring ankle plan.
“You never know how it all ends up,” Stevens said. “From a sports science perspective and physical therapists, they are as good as I’ve been around about navigating. and managing that if we do this now, we’ll be in good shape.
“If you manage it, if you treat it correctly and you ramp back up at the right rate, it has a lot less chance of being a lingering issue. This isn’t what I would call a significant injury that you are concerned about big picture.”
Speaking in a recent interview with Sporta Studija, Porzingis acknowledged that he hopes to be ready for the upcoming 2023-24 season, with training camp expected to start for the Celtics on Oct. 3.
“The foot hurts after exercise, I feel almost nothing when walking, a really funny injury,” Porzingis explained, via translation. “I have an idea what the origin of the injury might be, but it’s something that builds up over the course of a career and pops out at one point. It got worse during the training process – it started to hurt, then I couldn’t get rid of the inflammation.”
Conor Ryan can be reached at email@example.com.