NBA club Utah Jazz has given prized draftee Dante Exum permission to play for Australia at the World Cup in Spain after he was named in an extended 17-man Boomers squad to train in Canberra next week.
Just two weeks after signing a $4 million rookie deal with Utah, Exum will be one of four NBA players to feature in the camp that Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis will use to finalise his 12-man World Cup squad.
It caps a big few days for basketball in Canberra, with local product Patty Mills and San Antonio Spurs teammate Aron Baynes to bring the NBA trophy to town on Friday.
There were concerns Jazz may wrap their No. 5 draft pick in cotton wool as they begin to rebuild, but Lemanis confirmed on Tuesday the 19-year-old had been given the green light.
Exum has long expressed his desire to play for Australia at every opportunity, even requesting his manager write a clause into any NBA contract he signs.
Three-time NBA champion Luc Longley admitted he thought Exum would struggle to convince Jazz officials to allow him to play.
But Lemanis praised the club for seeing the bigger picture.
"They've been very open in their communication with us and I can't be more thankful of the way they've handled the situation,'' Lemanis said.
"I think Utah also sees the benefit in Dante going and getting this experience at the World Cup.
"Every time Patty's come into our system he's gone back and got better, and had a breakout season this year.
"Dante has been very firm in his desire to play for the national team. I'm sure in the process of being recruited that would have been expressed, and Utah would have been aware of it. ''
Lemanis rejected thoughts the Jazz were taking a risk with Exum, saying: "He wouldn't be sitting on his backside and doing nothing if he stayed in Utah, he'd be playing competitive basketball, I'm sure.
"The risk of injury is the same regardless of whether you're playing the World Cup, or working out with your team at home.''
Injury has forced both championship-winning San Antonio Spurs star Mills and Golden State Warriors’ Andrew Bogut out of the tournament, which tips off in late August.
Canberra product Mills underwent shoulder surgery a fortnight ago and isn’t expected to play until next year. Bogut, who has been dogged by injury the past few years, announced earlier this month he would not be available for Australia’s campaign.
Mills' absence means Exum is likely to enjoy more game time after playing limited minutes in Australia's Oceania series win over New Zealand late last year.
Boomers assistant coach Longley said he was surprised but pleased by the Jazz's decision.
"I have been proven wrong,'' Longley said. "I was betting he was going to struggle to spend time with us over the off-season.
"I'm pretty happy to be wrong, it's really good news for us.''
Chicago Bulls allowed Longley to play in the 1992 Olympics after his rookie NBA season, but said Exum's situation is more complex.
He believes the Spurs' march to the title with an internationally diverse line-up has helped change perceptions about releasing players.
"His is a bit different, I thought they would wrap their hands around him being a fresh draft pick,'' Longley said.
"The Spurs have done a lot to improve the image of international basketball in the NBA and shift the way clubs view international experience for their players and what value comes out of that.
"I've never dealt with the Jazz before, but I like to think it's another example of the NBA shifting their stance.''
Lemanis on Tuesday named four NBA players in his preliminary squad, which will be cut down to 12 before the squad finalises preparations with a three-week tour of Europe.
Baynes, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Matthew Dellavedova and Cameron Bairstow, fresh from being drafted by Chicago Bulls, will all feature.
The Boomers will play a series of games in Europe in the lead up for the first time, including clashes against Lithuania, France and Ukraine.
Rising stars Chris Goulding and Brock Motum, who are both in action at this week’s NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, have also been named, as has teenage prodigy Ben Simmons.
Preliminary Boomers squad: David Andersen (Strasbourg, France), Cameron Bairstow (Chicago Bulls, NBA), Aron Baynes (San Antonio Spurs, NBA), Angus Brandt (Sydney Kings, NBL), Ryan Broekhoff (Besiktas, Turkey), Matthew Dellavedova (Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA), Dante Exum (Utah Jazz, NBA), Adam Gibson (Adelaide 36ers, NBL), Chris Goulding (Melbourne United, NBL), Joe Ingles (Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Israel), Nathan Jawai (Galatasaray, Turkey), Damian Martin (Perth Wildcats, NBL), Brock Motum (Bologna, Italy), Brad Newley (Gran Canaria, Spain), Ben Simmons (Montverde Academy, USA), Lucas Walker (Melbourne United, NBL), Mark Worthington (Melbourne United, NBL)