Basketball: Steven Adams reportedly on verge of ending Tall Blacks exile before knee injury

A knee injury suffered playing in the NBA could have thrown a spanner in the works of Steven Adams potential international debut, with the Memphis Grizzlies star reportedly closer than ever to suiting up for the Tall Blacks. 

For the last decade, 29-year-old Adams has been New Zealand's sole representative in the NBA, and arguably one of the biggest names in Kiwi sport. 

However, a well-documented falling out with Basketball New Zealand over financial aid as an age-group player has meant Adams has never represented his country, and instead concentrated on the NBA, with stints for Oklahoma City Thunder, New Orleans Pelicans, and now Memphis Grizzlies.

Steven Adams.
Steven Adams. Photo credit: Getty Images

According to Stuff, multiple sources state this year's Basketball World Cup in the Philippines would have seen the hatchet buried between Adams and the national body - only for the Kiwi centre to suffer a knee injury playing for the Grizzlies.

While there is conceivably time for Adams to recover to play for the Tall Blacks in the World Cup which starts at the end of August, it remains to be seen if playing and risking further injury that would jeopardise his career with Memphis . 

In August 2022, Basketball NZ chief executive Dillon Boucher told Newshub he was confident Adams would at some point play for the Tall Blacks, even if there was no guarantee as to when that would be.

"We are in good dialogue with him and his team, and we are confident, when the time is right, that he'll be able to put on the black singlet one day," said Boucher.

"Our understanding is one day he wants to put on the black singlet, we just don't know when that will be.

"That's just working with him and his management to make sure the stars align."

Adams has been out of action since January and is expected to miss the Grizzlies' NBA postseason, as ESPN reported he has also received stem cell injections to aid his recovery. 

Before his injury, he averaged 8.6 points and a career-high 11.5 rebounds over 42 games, while the Grizzlies were 28-14 with him in their line-up. Adams signed a two-year, US$25.2 million contract extension before this current season.