Celtics' Marcus Smart Cleared to Return for Team USA After Calf Injury

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistAugust 17, 2019

ANAHEIM, CA  - AUGUST 16:  Marcus Smart #40 of Team USA warms up before the game against Team Spain on August 16, 2019 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE  (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Marcus Smart has reportedly been cleared to return to Team USA activities after missing more than a week with a calf injury.

Marc Stein of the New York Times updated Smart's health, which will be paramount to Team USA's success as its guard roster dwindles. De'Aaron Fox pulled out of consideration for the World Cup earlier Saturday to focus on next NBA season.

Team USA has 13 players remaining on its training camp roster, 12 of whom will make the trip to the World Cup. Smart is considered a near-lock and perhaps the team's best overall defender. Coach Gregg Popovich has emphasized defensive presence during camp because he feels the United States can outscore any other team in the field.

Smart said he was "100 percent confident" he would play in the World Cup while appearing on NBATV on Friday.

"That's not my makeup. I made a commitment to play with these guys," Smart said of the possibility of him leaving to prepare for the NBA season. "We worked together, we sweated, we hurt together, so I'm in it, and I'm in it for the long run."

Team USA could wind up using Smart as a primary ball-handler when Kemba Walker, the lone All-NBA selection on this team, is on the bench. Smart, Donovan Mitchell and Derrick White are the three remaining guards who appear capable of handling that responsibility.

Team USA opens the World Cup against the Czech Republic on Sept. 1 and will travel to Australia this month to finish camp.