Andrew Wiggins

14 NBA Players On Canada’s Preliminary Olympic Qualifying Roster

Team Canada has yet to secure a place in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics, but the club should have a loaded roster as it looks to lock up a spot in a qualifying tournament next month.

Canada Basketball issued a press release today announcing its 21-player preliminary roster for the Olympic qualifier, and the group includes 14 players who finished the season on NBA contracts. Here’s the full list:

Of the seven players who didn’t play in the NBA this season, one (Bennett) is a former first overall pick, another (Nicholson) was also a first-round selection, and a third (Alexander) has NBA experience. Bell-Haynes has played in the G League, while Doornekamp, Ejim, and Nembhard all have extensive experience representing Canada in past international competitions.

Still, a few noteworthy names are missing from the list. Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is recovering from a torn ACL and won’t be able to participate. Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is also dealing with an injury, announcing on Instagram that rehabbing the plantar fasciitis in his right foot will prevent him from representing Team Canada.

Raptors big man Chris Boucher is a third notable omission. According to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link), Boucher is focused on rehabbing a knee sprain and wants to make sure he’s 100% healthy heading into 2021/22. He also has a somewhat uncertain contract situation — his $7MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed, though I’d be shocked if he’s not retained.

Even without Murray, Gilgeous-Alexander, and Boucher, Canada Basketball is in position to run out a roster stacked with NBA talent and led by former NBA Coach of the Year Nick Nurse.

While the final roster will depend in part on which players are available, none of the 21 players on the preliminary are on teams expected to still be alive for the conference finals. However, a club like Powell’s Mavericks or Barrett’s Knicks could surprise.

Team Canada will compete against Greece, China, Uruguay, Turkey, and the Czech Republic in a qualifying tournament in Victoria, British Columbia between June 29 and July 4. If the club wins that six-team qualifier, it will be part of the 12-team field in Tokyo and would be a legit contender for a medal.

And-Ones: Wiggins, Canada, Overtime Elite, Yabusele, More

It has been several years since Warriors wing Andrew Wiggins represented Team Canada in an international competition, but it appears that’s about to change. As Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets, Wiggins posted a message on Instagram strongly suggesting that he’ll suit up for Canada when the team competes in the Olympic qualifiers this summer.

Eight of the 12 teams that will compete in the men’s basketball event at the Tokyo Olympics have clinched their spots, including Team USA. Twenty-four countries will compete in four separate tournaments from June 29 to July 4 for the final four Olympic berths. In order to qualify for the Tokyo games, Canada will have to top Greece, China, Uruguay, Turkey, and the Czech Republic.

While it certainly won’t be a cakewalk, Canada will benefit from home-court advantage – the tournament will take place in Victoria, British Columbia – and could deploy a roster featuring far more NBA players than their opponents. Wiggins, who averaged 18.6 points per game in 71 contests for Golden State this season, would be a key addition.

“I don’t think there’s any question about what he can bring,” Canada Basketball general manager Rowan Barrett said, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. “The versatility he has at 6’8″ with a tremendous wingspan and with the focus he has on defense now will help us. And as an offensive player, it’s clear. He’s got a career average of 20 points a game in the NBA. Clearly he can score the ball.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The Overtime Elite league has secured two more commitments from top high school prospects, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Florida twins Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson are signing two-year contracts with OTE. The Thompson twins rank 22nd and 23rd in ESPN’s list of top class-of-2022 recruits. Overtime’s first two commits were twin brothers Matt Bewley and Ryan Bewley.
  • Speaking of high school basketball, Jeff Borzello and Paul Biancardi of ESPN report that several of the nation’s biggest high school powerhouses are forming an elite national league called the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference in advance of the 2021/22 season. Six programs – including Oak Hill, Montverde, and IMG Academy – have committed so far to the eight-team league that will feature a 10-game regular season and a postseason tournament, per ESPN’s duo.
  • Former Celtics first-round pick Guerschon Yabusele is in advanced talks with Real Madrid, reports Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas (via Twitter). If Yabusele doesn’t feel he has an NBA opportunity lined up, he’ll likely sign with Real Madrid, Urbonas adds.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Wiggins, Thunder, Nuggets

Damian Lillard has long been commended for his loyalty to the Trail Blazers, but Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports questions where that loyalty has gotten Lillard during what has been his most frustrating season. The veteran guard, who has repeatedly stated his desire to win a title in Portland, hasn’t played with an All-Star since 2015 and the team doesn’t appear to be moving any closer to contention — the Blazers’ recent 4-9 slide has them in play-in territory at No. 7 in the Western Conference.

Acquisitions like Robert Covington and Norman Powell looked like steps in the right direction, but Haynes advocates for the Trail Blazers’ front office to take a more aggressive, riskier approach, seeking a deal that would pair Lillard with a legitimate second star.

While Haynes’ piece for Yahoo Sports is an opinion column, it’s worth noting that the veteran reporter is on good terms with Lillard, having frequently interviewed him and reported on him. That doesn’t necessarily mean Lillard shares the views Haynes puts forth in the piece, but the Trail Blazers star will turn 31 this summer and will want to make the most of his remaining prime years.

Whether or not they’re getting a push from Lillard, it’s fair to say the pressure is increasing on the Blazers’ front office. That pressure applies to the coaching staff too. Echoing another recent report, Haynes suggests within his column that head coach Terry Stotts is very much on the hot seat.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Former Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins, who played in Minnesota on Thursday as a Warrior, said he has “nothing but love” for his old team and for his time in the city, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “Living here was great,” Wiggins said. “I got to meet a lot of people in the community. I made a lot of friends and people that I’ll talk to and be cool with the rest of my life. Just playing here with the organization it was cool. Helped me grow into the man I am today.”
  • Charlie Brown Jr. is looking to make the most of his 10-day audition with the Thunder, a team he worked out for prior to the 2019 draft, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman details. Meanwhile, in a separate story, Mussatto writes about Gabriel Deck‘s “welcome to the NBA” moment during his debut on Thursday — the Argentinian forward was matched up with Zion Williamson during his first few minutes in the NBA.
  • In his latest mailbag for The Denver Post, Mike Singer explores Michael Porter Jr.‘s contract situation, JaVale McGee‘s role, and whether any more roster moves are coming for the Nuggets. Singer expects the current 17-man group to be the one Denver takes into the postseason.

California Notes: Poole, LeBron, Kings, Wiggins

Anthony Slater of The Athletic wonders if second-year reserve point guard Jordan Poole should be given the keys to the Warriors‘ bench ahead of current main backup point guard Brad Wanamaker.

Poole has struggled to carve out consistent minutes in Golden State’s rotation this season, as he appears better-suited toward a play-maker role than an off-ball one, and yet he has frequently been slotted in the latter position to accommodate Wanamaker. Poole has flashed his bona fides in the NBAGL Orlando “bubble” thus far, averaging 22.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 3.8 APG in eight games for the Santa Cruz Warriors.

There’s more out of California:

  • Lakers All-Star forward LeBron James is happy with his heavy minutes load, even in his 18th NBA season, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. In February alone, James has played more than 40 minutes in four games. “This is a fast turnaround from last season, and we all wish we could have more rest,” James acknowledged. “But I’m here to work, I’m here to punch my clock in and be available to my teammates.” With starters Dennis Schroder and Anthony Davis both recently sidelined, James has been needed more than usual to help Los Angeles. He is currently averaging 35.0 MPG.
  • Kings backup swingmen DaQuan Jeffries and Robert Woodard II represent the ideal athletic, big wing defenders Sacramento’s front office is targeting, writes Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee.“Toughness on the defensive side of the ball is definitely something [Jeffries] brings,” center Richaun Holmes said. Kings head coach Luke Walton also expressed excitement for Woodard. “Woodard, obviously he’s a rookie and he needs a ton of experience himself, and he’s getting some good experience down in the [NBA G League] bubble right now.”
  • Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams lauded the defensive development of swingman Andrew Wiggins, according to Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area. “His total defensive game is coming along,” Adams said. “He’s getting better on the help side.” Adams cited one area in which he would like to see Wiggins continue to grow. “Like any player he has a few things he can improve — we’d like to see him rebound [he’s averaging 4.7 per game] a little bit better.”

Warriors Notes: Looney, Wiseman, Wiggins, Poole, Smailagic

After opening the door over the weekend to a possible starting lineup adjustment, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr made a change at center on Monday night, inserting Kevon Looney into his starting five in place of rookie James Wiseman, as Nick Friedell of ESPN details.

Looney scored just two points on the night, but he was a plus-21 as Golden State defeated Minnesota 130-108. While the lineup change was effective on Monday, Kerr wasn’t ready to commit to it becoming a permanent solution.

“From the beginning, we’re trying to win games too,” Kerr said, per Friedell. “And so I have to figure out what that means. All it meant tonight was let’s start Loon, let’s try to get off to a better start, flip their roles, and I think it worked out well. It doesn’t mean I’m going to do it the whole year. It just feels like what I should do right now.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Following Monday’s win over Minnesota, Kerr admitted that he’s not ignoring the impact that beating the Timberwolves – and keeping them near the bottom of the NBA standings – has on the Warriors’ draft outlook (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). Golden State will receive the Wolves’ first-round pick if it doesn’t land in the top three.
  • Andrew Wiggins, who had spent his entire NBA career in Minnesota before being traded to the Warriors a year ago, praised Golden State’s “winning culture” after beating his old team on Monday. “It’s very positive over here, very positive, everyone’s getting along. No egos, nothing like that,” Wiggins said, per Friedell. “Everyone just wants to win. It’s just a winning attitude, winning culture, everything is about winning.” Although Wiggins didn’t specifically address the Wolves’ culture, it’s probably safe to assume he wouldn’t describe it in exactly the same terms.
  • Jordan Poole and Alen Smailagic will join two-way player Nico Mannion in the G League bubble, Kerr confirmed on Monday, per Marcus White of NBC Sports Bay Area. All three players will depart Sunday and will suit up for the Santa Cruz Warriors at Walt Disney World next month. “Hopefully we stay healthy during that time so those guys get as much experience as they can,” Kerr said. “They all need to play.”

Warriors Notes: Starting Five, Wolves’ Pick, Mannion

The Warriors suffered their second consecutive loss on Saturday in Utah, dropping to .500 (8-8) on the season. In the wake of that blowout, head coach Steve Kerr left the door open to the possibility of making changes to his struggling starting lineup, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

“It’s going to take us 20 games to figure out where we really want to be with our rotation,” Kerr said. “We’re at 16 now, and I think getting a pretty good look at everything. We just had two bad losses in a row, so we have to assess everything. No doubt.”

Kerr has suggested that Golden State’s starting five – Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Kelly Oubre, and James Wiseman – has the highest upside of any of the team’s lineups, but the results haven’t been there so far. That unit has played 161 minutes together, while no other five-man group has played more than 37. In those 161 minutes, the Warriors’ net rating is -20.3.

The team will have a good opportunity to turn things around this week, with home games against the 4-11 Timberwolves on tap for Monday and Wednesday.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Nearly one year after the Warriors and Timberwolves made a blockbuster trade involving D’Angelo Russell and Wiggins, Anthony Slater of The Athletic explains why he thinks Golden State has gotten the better end of that deal. As Slater outlines, neither Russell nor Wiggins has been a major difference-maker, but the Warriors were able to avoid the tax last season by dumping salary in that trade and are still owed a Wolves first-round pick that will likely land in the lottery.
  • Within the same story, Slater says that – while the 2021 Timberwolves first-rounder owed to Golden State is top-three protected – the Warriors shouldn’t worry about Minnesota finishing with a bottom-three record. Even in that scenario, there’s still about a 60% chance that the Wolves’ pick will land in the No. 4-7 range and will change hands.
  • The Warriors have discussed the possibility of sending rookie guard Nico Mannion, who is on a two-way contract, to the G League bubble at Walt Disney World next month, tweets Slater. I haven’t played a full game since March 12,” Mannion said. “Going down there, getting into a flow, would be good for me.” The Santa Cruz Warriors are one of 18 teams participating in the revamped NBAGL season.

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Horton-Tucker, Williams, Wiggins

The Clippers have seen their bench production nosedive during the 2020/21 season thus far, according to Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Los Angeles is averaging a league-low -5.3 plus-minus through its first 10 games, according to Swanson. This is a marked drop-off from years past, as former Clipper Montrezl Harrell was the Sixth Man of the Year for the 2019/20 season and longtime Clipper Lou Williams won that honor in ’18/19.

“We are going to figure that out,” Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue said of the Clippers’ bench’s struggles. “It is a good problem to have, especially when you can get Marcus (Morris) back, who has been a starter and now is coming off the bench. You have that kind of talent coming off the bench, it adds a different dynamic to your team.”

There’s more out of California:

  • Lakers reserve shooting guard Talen Horton-Tucker, a restricted free agent in 2021, is expected to draw interest from several squads during the offseason, including possibly the Knicks, Cavaliers, and Mavericks, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Los Angeles possesses Horton-Tucker’s Early Bird rights. While the Lakers could technically match any offer for Horton-Tucker, an opposing team’s GM speculates that a rival club could outbid make it hard on L.A. “Teams that have a lot of cap space and are looking to gamble on a young guy, why not put your money into him?” the GM wonders. “The upside is obvious.”
  • A rotation tweak by the Clippers has freed up backup guard Lou Williams, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times reports. L.A. coach Tyronn Lue and his staff have opted to surround Williams with four solid defenders on the floor.
  • The 2020 trade deadline deal wherein the Warriors sent D’Angelo Russell to the Timberwolves in a package for swingman Andrew Wiggins and a top-three protected 2021 first-round draft pick continues to pay off for Golden State, according to Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area. After a rocky start, Wiggins has transformed into a solid two-way option on the wing to help fill the void left by injured Warriors star Klay Thompson. Through 10 games this season, Wiggins is currently averaging 17.5 PPG on 43.3% shooting from the floor and 38.5% shooting from deep, on 5.2 attempts. The 6-4 Warriors are the No. 4 seed in the West.

California Notes: Kawhi, Matthews, Batum, Wiggins

Clippers All-Star wing Kawhi Leonard is making a concerted effort to be a more vocal leader this season, as Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register details. His new teammate Serge Ibaka, who won a title with Leonard in 2019 when both were with the Raptors, encouraged Leonard to do this when he arrived to LA this season.

“Leaders need not only to come on the court and score 30 points. You have to show the team, your teammates, like you’re willing to give everything for them,” Ibaka said of the All-NBA Clippers forward. “And so far, he’s been doing a great job of that. He’s been communicating with everybody… this is something really new I see from Kawhi.”

There’s more out of California:

  • New Lakers wing Wesley Matthews, a longtime starter in the NBA, is adjusting to his new role coming off the bench, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. “We don’t worry about Wes,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s a knockdown shooter and a great defender. Just excited that he’s in a Lakers uniform and what kind of things he’s gonna give us throughout the year.”
  • With newly-extended Clippers forward Marcus Morris out of commission due to a sore right knee, veteran offseason addition Nicolas Batum has comfortably slid into his starting power forward role, per Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register. Batum is averaging 27.5 MPG, 6.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 3.5 APG for Los Angeles.
  • Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins has vastly improved his pick-and-roll output this season, writes Zach Harper of The Athletic. He is producing 116.7 points per 100 possessions as a pick-and-roll scorer thus far in 2020/21.

Western Notes: Melton, Gobert, Wiggins, Oubre

Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton is the latest player to miss game action due to the coronavirus pandemic. He won’t play against Atlanta on Saturday due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. Melton played 25 minutes in Memphis’ season-opening loss to San Antonio on Wednesday.

We have more Western Conference news:

  • Despite the emphasis on the 3-point shot, Rudy Gobert remains a big part of the Jazz’s offense, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Gobert made 8-of-10 field-goal attempts in the team’s season-opening victory over Portland while scoring 20 points. “When we move the ball that way it doesn’t really matter who gets the shot,” Gobert said. “I’m able to get my teammates open by just setting the screen or running the floor, or by catching the ball and then swinging to the open shooter. It’s fun.” Gobert signed a five-year, $205MM extension on Sunday.
  • Warriors wings Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. are off to very slow starts, Nick Friedell of ESPN notes. Wiggins, who was acquired by Golden State in February, and Oubre, who was added in the offseason, shot a combined 14-for-58 from the field and 2-for-21 from the 3-point line in the first two games this season. Coach Steve Kerr isn’t pushing the panic button. “Kelly’s going to be fine. Andrew will be fine,” Kerr said. “Those guys are proven players in this league. I’ve got to do a better job of putting them in positions to get comfortable, too.”
  • Big man JaMychal Green left the Clippers and signed with the Nuggets on a two-year, $15MM contract. Nuggets coach Michael Malone saw that as an example of Denver’s reputation around the league, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. “The fact that he decided to join us, I think, was a sign of respect,” Malone said. “He wanted to be a part of the team he saw in the Western Conference semifinals when we played head to head.”

California Notes: Kings, Ty Lue, Wiseman, Wiggins

Ahead of the 2020/21 season, John Hollinger of the Athletic wondered if the Kings will be able to move the contracts of shooting guard Buddy Hield and forward Harrison Barnes, and whether or not Sacramento would be able to surround newly-extended point guard De’Aaron Fox with enough help to reach the playoffs.

New Kings GM Monte McNair has expressed a desire to give Fox similarly-aged teammates. Hield is currently in the first season of his four-year, $94MM extension, which declines over each year, while Barnes has three years and $61MM left on his deal. Moving at least one of those players for assets could help in McNair’s quest to find players who align with Fox’s timeline.

There’s more out of California:

  • The Athletic’s Bill Oram and Joe Vardon explore the process last summer that ultimately led to the Lakers hiring Frank Vogel as their head coach in 2019 and the Clippers promoting Tyronn Lue to their head coaching job this year. Vogel had expected to be a top assistant on Lue’s staff with the latter serving as head coach for the Lakers in May of 2019 when negotiations between the Lakers and Lue fell apart. The Lakers would not budge from a three-year, $18MM offer, while Lue was hoping to receive closer to a five-year, $35MM deal. Lue ultimately pivoted to become the lead assistant on the staff of then-Clippers head coach Doc Rivers. Lue assumed the head job this offseason.
  • Though the Warriors may have gotten soundly defeated by the Nets in their season opener, No. 2 draft pick James Wiseman flashed plenty of potential in his NBA debut, according to Marcus Thompson II of the Athletic. The rookie center scored 19 points and pulled down six rebounds in just 24 minutes. “He’s a presence,” star point guard Stephen Curry said, “and I think he showed exactly how he can open up the floor for me in the middle of those pick-and-rolls and put pressure on the rim.”
  • Warriors small forward Andrew Wiggins is hoping to be more aggressive on offense in Golden State’s Christmas bout against the Bucks, per Anthony Slater of the Athletic“Shoot, I hope I find that flow next game,” Wiggins said. “I’m not trying to wait. I’m trying to get after it and get it as soon as possible.”