BOXFORD, Mass. -- It was just last week that Kelly Olynyk underwent right shoulder surgery that will keep him from playing for the Canadian National Team this summer in their quest for an Olympics berth in Rio, as well as have him sidelined until sometime in October.
And yet there was the Celtics center on Wednesday with his right arm in a sling, chatting it up with kids at Spofford Pond School as part of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab during an unveiling ceremony, courtesy of the Celts and National Grid.
The C's and National Grid purchased 25 Chromebooks, 13 Samsung Galaxy Tablets and a 65-inch Samsung Smart TV as well as other high-tech, education-related items.
“I love the opportunity to come out, give back to the community,” said Olynyk who was also joined by former Celtic Leon Powe and Terry Sobolewski, the Chief Customer Officer for National Grid Massachusetts. “I’ve been sitting in my living room the last eight days, looking at the same four walls.”
And for Olynyk, the days of going stir crazy won’t end anytime soon.
The 7-footer had surgery on May 16, the day after he told CSNNE.com that if he elected to have surgery he would be sidelined for five months.
On Wednesday, Olynyk reiterated that the timeline for him to resume full contact had not changed.
Olynyk told CSNNE.com earlier that the surgery was “inevitable,” but that didn’t make it any easier.
“Probably the hardest decision of my life,” Olynyk said. “As far as weighing the national team, the opportunity to play in the Olympics. I played with Team Canada the last eight years, waiting for this opportunity, waiting for this day to come where we’d be on this stage, have this before us. But with the Celtics . . . talking to a bunch of people, it was inevitable that I was going to need surgery.”
Among the biggest concerns for Olynyk was the possibility of playing with Team Canada and suffering another right shoulder injury that would require surgery and potentially lead to him missing the start of the season.
By having the surgery last week Olynyk is expected to resume practicing with the Celts in the middle of October, which would give him a couple weeks of having been cleared before the season starts.
“I couldn’t miss next year,” said Olynyk who added that the decision to have the surgery was his and did not involve the Celtics pressuring him to do so. “We’re moving in the right direction. You want to keep that momentum going. It was a really tough decision. But it was something I needed to do.”
Olynyk said he will be in a sling for at least two weeks, adding that he will be in it for another 10 days or so.
“My guess is you progress, getting that motion back, making sure everything is fine, all that kind of stuff,” he said.
A healthy Olynyk could prove vital to the growth of his game as well as the Celtics’ desire to build off of last season’s 48-win club that made it to the playoffs for the second year in a row but also suffered a second consecutive first-round defeat.
Last season, Olynyk averaged 10.0 points per game and shot a career-best 40.5 percent from 3-point range. A stronger Olynyk could give the Celtics more options in how they want to use him going forward. For the most part, Boston likes to have Olynyk on the floor because of his perimeter shooting, which helps with spacing. But if he’s physically stronger, Boston can look to post him up from time to time as well, which would make him a much more dangerous weapon offensively.
No one anticipates Olynyk will suddenly morph into a dominant, inside-outside scoring threat. But added strength does give him a chance to improve as both a rebounder and defender, two areas in which Olynyk was up and down this past season.
And admittedly he was at his worst during the playoffs, when the Celtics desperately needed someone -- anyone -- to help space the floor as the Hawks packed in the paint, which limited the drives to the basket by Isaiah Thomas.
“(I was) cleared [medically to play], but I wasn’t able to help the team at all. I couldn’t do anything,” Olynyk said. “My arm . . . I couldn’t hold off one of these kids with my arm. Shooting pains, it was giving out. Motions without contact were okay. But once you put any contact on my arm, it was done. So I couldn’t do anything.”
Olynyk is hopeful the surgery will alleviate the issues with the shoulder, which sidelined him for 12 games in addition to limiting his effectiveness in the playoffs.
“[The doctors] tell me [I’m] going to be stronger than [I’ve] ever felt, ever been,” Olynyk said.