Fit Exum puts Boomers ahead of NBA plans

·3-min read

I have only tweaked one quote but was thinking it should go out as a 1? If you don't think we need to update then happy to delete.

Dante Exum didn't have to think twice about suiting up for the Boomers in this month's Olympics despite his NBA future being under a cloud.

Exum joined Houston in January but didn't play a game due to troublesome calf issues, with his ongoing injuries and salary cap pressures threatening his future there.

While Ben Simmons flip-flopped on his international career and ultimately withdrew from the Tokyo campaign, Exum jumped at the chance after missing the Rio Olympics when recovering from knee surgery.

Last playing for Australia in 2015 as a 20-year-old, the inclusion of a fit Exum is widely viewed as the element that could see the men's team land their first Olympic medal.

"It was no decision - it's always been my dream to play in an Olympic Games," Exum said on Saturday from Las Vegas, where the Boomers are playing Olympic warm-up games starting with world No.4 Argentina on Sunday.

"I told my agent straight away that it was always the Olympics and I didn't care what anyone had to say, it was just: 'I'm doing this, plan around it'.

"Whenever I'm healthy I'm definitely going to put my foot forward to play whenever I can."

Only managing six games this NBA season, Exum said while he had overcome the calf problem, he would likely need to take a cautious approach to his playing return.

As well as the calf and knee issues, he has also battled shoulder and ankle injuries throughout his career since been taken by Utah as the fifth pick in the 2014 NBA draft.

The Australians have four games within a week, including two against the powerhouse USA, before they head to Tokyo.

"In my head I'm good to go but I haven't played in like 186 days so it's always smart to manage, in some capacity, what I'm doing," Melbourne-born Exum said.

"I'll go out and play tomorrow and see how I feel - I've played scrimmages, five on five, pick-up, all that, and I've felt good and haven't had any trouble.

"A game is next level up so it will be something we manage but I wouldn't put my foot forward if I wasn't 100 per cent."

Three-time Olympian Matthew Dellavedova said it was exciting to see Exum fit to make his Games debut.

"He's had a tough run with injury but he's always been committed to the Boomers," Dellavedova said.

"I've got to play with him in Cleveland and it's been great to see him healthy and moving really well, getting into the paint, getting to the rim and being aggressive on the defensive end.

"He's really enjoying it and it's been great fun having him a part of the group and I'm excited to see what he can do for us."

The Boomers open their Olympics campaign against Nigeria on July 25.

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