NBA AM: Injuries Happen, Don’t Blame National Teams

Was Dante Exum’s knee injury avoidable, or is it simply the cost of doing business?… Who has cap space and exception money left?

Steve Kyler profile picture
Updated 1 year ago on

4 min read

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Injuries Happen:  With the news that Jazz point guard Dante Exum may have a serious knee injury, sustained during Australian National team play, the subject of NBA players risking their careers for their National Teams has come back to the surface.

Before we get too far into this, injuries happen. They even happen just getting off the sofa, just ask Greg Oden who suffered his first knee injury banging his knee on a coffee table. So trying to say that not playing for the Aussie team would have prevented Exum’s injury is a little short sighted. Players have to play to improve, and they have to play to stay in shape, something that’s required in the NBA’s uniform contract:

The Player agrees, notwithstanding any other provision of this Contract, that he will to the best of his ability maintain himself in physical condition sufficient to play skilled basketball at all times. If the Player, in the reasonable judgment of the physician designated for that purpose by the Team, is not in good physical condition at the date of his first scheduled game for the Team, or if, at the beginning of or during any Season, he fails to remain in good physical condition, in either event so as to render the Player unfit in the reasonable judgment of said physician to play skilled basketball, the Team shall have the right to suspend the Player for successive one-week periods until the Player, in the reasonable judgment of the Team’s physician, is in good physical condition.

Now there is a real and viable economic case to be made for NBA players to not play for National teams. There is no question that National teams generate revenue off of players NBA teams have developed and cultivated, but there is something to be said about the international gains NBA teams receive from having international players on their rosters. The Jazz are a hit in Australia because of Exum and Joe Ingles, so the relationship is not without gain on both sides.

That bring us back to the risk versus reward issue. To suggest that playing for a National team is riskier than say a pick-up game with no trainers, medical staff or organization in a gym somewhere isn’t necessarily true.

The truth is that the National team games are better organized, the minutes and health of players in most cases are monitored and the resources available to them as players are better than most of the second tier training sites.

One of the big appeals of being invited to Team USA camp, which opens next week in Las Vegas is the chance to train with some of the best coaches and trainers in the country as well as learn from and play against the best of the best in the NBA. There is no better way to improve than to play against high level talent and National teams.

Is there risk? Absolutely, but there is risk getting off the sofa, so to somehow condemn the National program as the reason for an injury like Exum’s isn’t necessarily on point. Those kind of injuries happen.

Players have to play to improve, to stay in shape and to meet their contractual requirements. Injuries are the unfortunate risk that comes with all of that, so let’s not blame the National team.

So What Does The Cap Look Like?:  Basketball Insiders’ Senior Writer Eric Pincus has all of the team’s updated and here is what the cap looks like for each team, as well as where they stand with their exception money:

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Steve Kyler is the Editor and Publisher of Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA and basketball for the last 17 seasons.

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