No Tall Blacks this year for Steven Adams
Hopes of Steven Adams pulling on a Tall Blacks singlet against Australia next month have been dashed with the Oklahoma City Thunder saying he will remain in the United States to continue his NBA education.
Basketball New Zealand had raised some optimism after declaring they were willing to stump up the $25,000-plus to cover Adams' insurance costs.
The Tall Blacks play Australia in a home-and-away series which opens on the North Shore on August 14.
But a Thunder spokesman told The Dominion Post that: "Steven will remain in the States to continue his training here during that time."
BBNZ chief executive Iain Potter was philosophical about that news and said he was leaving the situation in the hands of coach Nenad Vucinic.
"The reason there was a glimmer of optimism he would make it is he was on record as saying he was coming to New Zealand for a while after summer camp and summer camp finishes at the beginning of August," Potter said.
"His enthusiasm for New Zealand and wanting to play for New Zealand is genuine but his new reality is the Oklahoma team is where he's got to put his attention."
The 19-year-old centre last month became the first Kiwi to be picked in the first round of the NBA draft.
He made an encouraging start to his Thunder career earlier this month, logging significant court-time as the powerful franchise won the Orlando Summer League.
Potter was hopeful Adams would play for New Zealand at next year's World Cup in Spain.
The Thunder have several international players on their books, including Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook (both USA) and Serge Ibaka (Spain).
"World Cup year, there will be more pressure on for him to be released," Potter said.
"Nenad's view is that next year would be fabulous but really just getting him involved in the Tall Blacks set-up would be advantageous. But at least we now have a sense of what we're dealing with."
The Dominion Post