Brad Stevens fully supports Celtics playing for Team USA

Celtics coach Brad Stevens (right) believes the opportunity to compete on a world stage will be an invaluable experience for Jayson Tatum (left), Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Kemba Walker. –FILE/WILLIE J. ALLEN JR./ASSOCIATED PRESS

Coach Brad Stevens is completely on board with the high number of Celtics that could be competing in the 2019 FIBA World Cup this summer.

“I think it’s great when you get a chance to play for your country,’’ Stevens said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

There’s potential for this iteration of Team USA to feature a large proportion of Celtics, with Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown all planning to attend the four-day training camp in Las Vegas. Of the 20 players expected to participate, 12 will go on to represent the US in tournament play that is scheduled to begin Sept. 1 in Shanghai.


Daniel Theis and new center Vincent Poirier will also represent their home countries, Germany and France, respectively.

Stevens expressed no concerns about the demands of the commitment — “I’m not worried about it’’ — as Boston’s training camp will likely begin two weeks after those participating return. As for whether he thinks the practices and games will provide a chance for the group to build some early chemistry? He doesn’t buy too much into that, either.

“I don’t think that really factors in a whole lot because there’s 12 other guys on our team,’’ he said.

Stevens, who was an assistant coach for the US national team in the 2011 World University Games, said he very much enjoys watching FIBA events — and called the opportunity to compete on that stage a valuable learning experience.

“I think the international game, which the NBA has become more like in the past five years, opens you up to new ideas and new things,’’ Stevens said. “It also really challenges you because you’re out of that 30-team NBA, where you play the same teams over and over and over again and see the same things.’’

In fact, when Indianapolis hosted the 2002 FIBA World Cup, Stevens stole a play from Yugoslavia, the eventual champions, after watching one of its games.


While he doesn’t plan to go out to China, Stevens said he will be out west during training camp. He noted he has already spoken to San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who will once again lead Team USA after taking over for Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in 2016, about the various preparations for each of the Celtics.

Stevens seemed excited by the fact that his players will get to play for not only Popovich but also Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce.

The US will enter the tournament heavily favored, yet Stevens emphasized the necessary sacrifices required to win.

“The most important thing you take from it is: When you put that USA jersey on, you got to give up yourself in every which way for the good of the team for the four, six weeks that you’re all together,’’ he said. “You have to play that way.’’