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Jayson Tatum misses start of USA Basketball camp in Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jayson Tatum of the NBA champion Boston Celtics was not present Saturday for the start of the U.S. men’s Olympic basketball training camp, excused because of personal reasons.

Tatum is expected to join the team by Monday, when it will have the third of its four camp practices in Las Vegas, U.S. coach Steve Kerr said. The team plays its first exhibition on Wednesday against Canada, then leaves Thursday for nearly five weeks abroad — going first to Abu Dhabi for two games, then to London for two more games, then finally to Paris for the Olympics.

The 26-year-old Tatum — one of two Celtics on this U.S. team, along with Jrue Holiday — is seeking his second Olympic gold medal, after being part of the team that won at the Tokyo Games held three years ago. Tatum averaged 15.2 points for the Americans in those Olympics, second on the team behind Kevin Durant’s 20.7 points per game.

The Olympics will be the capper of a busy few months for Tatum. The five-time All-Star helped the Celtics win their first NBA title since 2008 last month — then started his offseason by agreeing to a league-record $314 million, five-year extension that could keep him in Boston through the 2029-30 season.

That contract was finalized Saturday, the first day that such a deal could be executed by NBA rule.

“Jayson is a special person and player, and it’s been a thrill for all of us to watch his entire journey in Boston,” Celtics President Brad Stevens said Saturday in a release distributed by the team. “He has embraced all that comes with being a great Celtic, and shows consistent and genuine care for every one of his teammates, coaches, and staff across the organization.

Tatum averaged 26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game this past season for the Celtics, and has averaged 23.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists in his first seven NBA seasons.

Tatum was in Las Vegas for most of the week prior to the start of the U.S. camp, hosting his own elite camp for select high school and college players. Fellow U.S. Olympian Bam Adebayo was also part of that camp, as were fellow NBA players Paolo Banchero and Chris Paul.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games

By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer

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