Celtics have no concerns in qualifiers

As Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers try to lower their golf handicaps and spend more time with the family this summer, here is one thing neither fellow need worry about in the next two weeks: a call from South America or Europe telling him one of his players has been injured while competing in an Olympic qualifying tournament.

Ainge and Rivers are part of a select group in that regard. The Boston Celtics are one of a handful of NBA teams without a player in either the 24-team EuroBasket tournament in Lithuania or the 10-team FIBA Americas Championship in Argentina. Both tournaments, which will produce two qualifiers each for the London Olympics next year, began this week.

The only participants in either tournament with recent Boston ties are Carlos Arroyo, who is back in his familiar position as one of the stalwarts for the Puerto Rican national team, and Nenad Krstic, playing for Serbia. Arroyo is a free agent and, given how the Celtics buried him in the playoffs, would not appear to be a serious candidate for a return to Boston whenever pro basketball resumes. Krstic has signed to play for CSKA in Russia next season.

Ainge had shied away from international players during his first seven-plus years running the Celtics. (Yes, it has been that long. He came on board in the spring of 2003.) He traded for Jiri Welsch, who never panned out. Then last year, the Celtics turned into a veritable Ellis Island, welcoming four international players to the team: Semih Erden, Krstic, Sasha Pavlovic and Arroyo.

Erden, a key player on the Turkish national team that took second place at the 2010 FIBA World Championship, was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers last February. But he is not playing in EuroBasket 2011 due either to an injury (one version) or a dust-up he had with the coach of the national team (the preferred version of Turkish journalists). Krstic and Pavlovic played in the 2004 Olympics for Serbia-Montenegro. Pavlovic, a free agent, is not competing for either country (Montenegro now has its own national team).

As for US-born Celtics, both Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett won gold in Sydney in 2000, but were still seven years away from coming to Boston. Neither has played for the national team since then. Paul Pierce played on the 2002 world championship team, but has not participated since. Rajon Rondo was a late cut from the 2010 world championship team.

According to an examination of the national rosters in both tournaments by Hoopshype.com, only four other NBA teams have no roster (or possible roster) players participating in either qualifying tournament: the Cavs, the Phoenix Suns, the Indiana Pacers and the Golden State Warriors.

Newly acquired Cavaliers player Omri Casspi can't play for Israel because of a knee injury, Anderson Varejao (Brazil) also is out and Tristan Thompson (Canada) is not playing even though he was drafted No. 4 overall in 2011.

The Suns' Marcin Gortat desperately wanted to play for his native Poland but reportedly couldn't get insurance coverage. Steve Nash (Canada) has retired from international competition, and Mickael Pietrus is not playing for France.

Golden State center Andris Biedrins, a native Latvian, is not competing because of injury, and Indiana, like Boston, has no internationals on its roster.

There are plenty of teams with players, including franchise guys, competing. For starters, Dirk Nowitzki of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks has donned the German uniform in hopes of getting his country to London. (The Clippers' Chris Kaman also is playing for Germany.)

Think Gregg Popovich and RC Buford in San Antonio are getting much sleep these days? The Spurs have a boatload of players competing in both tournaments, from Manu Ginobili (Argentina), Tiago Splitter (Brazil) and rookie Cory Joseph (Canada) in the FIBA Americas to Tony Parker (France) in EuroBasket 2011. Matt Bonner, a former Toronto Raptors player, wanted to play for Canada, but his citizenship papers have not been approved.

The Chicago Bulls have a couple of key guys competing as well: Luol Deng for the Great Britain team (which, as host, is guaranteed an Olympic berth) and Joakim Noah for France (which has six current or former NBA players on its roster).

The Los Angeles Lakers will have to hope Pau Gasol (Spain) gets through the tournament unscathed, and the Grizzlies will hope for the same for Marc Gasol, Pau's younger and rapidly improving brother, as well as Greivis Vasquez (Venezuela).

The Dominican Republic has three NBA players, including All-Star Al Horford and former UConn star Charlie Villanueva. But its most interesting personality might well be its coach, John Calipari.

Overall, about 50 NBA players or soon-to-be NBA players are competing for one of the 34 countries represented in the two tournaments. The Celtics are sure to be watching both events, but at a distance and for scouting purposes only. That's where their interests lie this time around.

Peter May is a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com.