LAS VEGAS (AP) - Kyrie Irving isn't in a position where he could play with USA Basketball this week at its minicamp.
He made the trip to Las Vegas anyway.
The way Irving sees it, if USA Basketball calls, you answer. So he was in the gym Thursday for the start of the two-day camp, watching and interacting with guys but not partaking in the on-court action.
And he insisted that when the Boston Celtics start training camp in about two months, he will be fully ready to go.
''Easily. Easily. Easily,'' Irving said. ''It's just the summertime. This is probably one of the first summers in my last seven years where I've actually had time to kind of develop and work on things that I want to improve on.''
Irving's first season with the Celtics ended in mid-March with a knee issue that required surgery. The Celtics went to the Eastern Conference Finals even without him and Gordon Hayward (who missed all but the first five minutes of the season because of injury) anyway.
In April, Irving had his surgery, which involved having two screws removed from his left patella after the Celtics revealed a bacterial infection was found at the site of the screws.
Irving said yesterday that the infection that was found on the metal wiring and screws in his knee could have turned into a staph infection. However, the infection was caught and treated in enough time to avoid that outcome.
"I mean, you ask anybody with an infection, they will probably try to downplay it," Irving said when asked how scary the infection was. "It's a personal thing because your body is going through it. I was fighting an infection in a specific place in your body where you can't necessarily reach with your hands. You got to go in there and kind of see what's going on, and what happened for me was, the metal wiring and the screws that I had in there, the infection was on that, so I had to remove that and then be on antibiotics for about two months.
"It could have evolved to staph, but good thing we caught it early. I am glad that is done. That was a long, long f-ing two months."
.@KyrieIrving assisting @KDTrey5 @russwest44 & @VicOladipo- USA Basketball (@usabasketball) July 26, 2018
📍 #USABMNT Minicamp pic.twitter.com/NPFigoVRlr
Given that LeBron James is now out of the East - he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, meaning his eight-year run of being on the team that wins the East is ending - Boston figures to be a popular pick to reach the NBA Finals next season.
''At the end of the day, we're going to be battling anyway,'' Irving said. ''We haven't started. Everyone's 0-0 right now. The expectations, the power rankings, all that other good stuff that the media loves doing, it's all part of the game. Obviously there's some expectations that we have to meet individually and then as a group.''
Irving was the third-leading scorer for the U.S. at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, starting all eight games and averaging 11.4 points. The U.S. went 8-0 in Rio on the way to gold.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.