With the NBA regular season a little more than a month away, Washington Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura will sit out the remaining FIBA World Cup games with his Japanese national team.
In a joint release sent Thursday night, the Wizards and Team Japan said they have monitored Hachimura’s fitness and have decided to rest him because of “knee discomfort” and “general fatigue.” Despite the statement’s ominous message on “load management,” a person close to the situation said Hachimura remains in good shape and health.
As the host team of the 2020 Olympics, Japan qualifies automatically, making its World Cup outcomes in Shanghai this month meaningless.
“I love Team Japan. This was a difficult decision for the Wizards, Japan Basketball, and myself to make,” Hachimura said in the statement. “I am still learning about my body and trust that the Wizards and Japan Basketball are doing everything they can to help me be the best I can be for the NBA season and the 2020 Olympics.”
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Hachimura, whom the Wizards selected ninth overall in the NBA Draft in June, is an immensely popular figure in his country as the face of the national team. Since welcoming Hachimura, the Wizards have attempted to build a relationship with Team Japan because of the teams’ shared stake in his future. Both organizations agreed to be cognizant of the rigors of his upcoming 82-game rookie season and to exercise precautions.
In three FIBA World Cup games, Hachimura has averaged 29 minutes, 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists. The news about his shutdown followed Hachimura’s performance against Team USA in which he played 24 minutes, scoring four points and grabbing four rebounds in a 98-45 loss.
Hachimura will return to Japan after the tournament and is expected to arrive in Washington around the middle of the month. The Wizards will start training camp Oct. 1.
“We support Rui always playing with his national team and wish them the very best in the next two games to close it out and nothing but success for them,” Wizards General Manager Tommy Sheppard said. “And we look forward to [Japan] participating in the Olympics next summer."