Last Wednesday night, Miami Heat big man Kelly Olynyk limped back to the locker room after a nasty looking fall during the third quarter of a Canadian World Cup team exhibition game against Nigeria. There was no contact, just a wet spot on the floor, but the fall looked painful.
Olynyk suffered a bruised knee from the spill, not something considered serious. X-rays came back negative, according to the team.
However, it is serious enough for Olynyk to withdraw from Canada’s national team for the upcoming FIBA World Cup, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
Olynyk is a floor-spacing big who shot 35.7 percent from three last season and has shown some chemistry next to likely starting Miami center Bam Adebayo. Olynyk, who averaged 10 points a game last season, could start at the four for Miami when the season tips off in October (with Adebayo and Jimmy Butler on the court together, a shooter who can space the floor at the power forward spot likely is the priority).
Olynyk has two years left on his contract, $12.7 million this season and a player option for $13.2 million next season. Olynyk has been mentioned in a lot of trade rumblings, if Miami makes a move to get another star next to Butler.
The Heat and Mavericks reportedly blamed each other for a trade falling through during the chaotic start of free agency.
Dallas thought it was getting Kelly Olynyk and Derrick Jones Jr. Miami thought it was sending Goran Dragic.
The non-deal put the Heat in a bind. They had to unload salary to complete a sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler. The 76ers, who got Josh Richardson for Butler, were counting on that payroll reduction to sign Al Horford. A lot of dominoes were in play.
Eventually, Miami traded Hassan Whiteside to the Trail Blazers to complete the Butler deal. The Mavericks saved their cap space for Delon Wright and a run at Danny Green, who wound up with the Lakers.
But what happened with the trade that wasn’t?
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
“As far as we can tell, it was just miscommunication,” Cuban told me in an email exchange.
Cuban did not discuss specific players in his email but said “I was sitting in the room full of people when the call was discussed and we put the trade we thought was happening on our board. We later discussed trade kickers and added a player to make it work. They obviously thought they heard something else.”
Cuban said “there was absolutely nothing malicious that went on.”
This isn’t fair to Cuban, but his willingness to move on without spite makes me think the Mavericks were at fault. If the Heat caused the problem, Dallas would be more likely to cause a stink.
Again, that’s totally unfair. Maybe Cuban is just taking the high road. Those negotiations are in the past. Even the wronged team is better off moving on.
But it’s the conclusion I jumped to and can’t shake.
USA Basketball is struggling to gets its top players to compete in the upcoming World Cup.
The United States isn’t the only country with that issue.
After initially announcing a training-camp roster featuring 17 NBA players, Canada is down to five NBA players in contention for the World Cup roster.
Team Canada’s best player (Nuggets guard Jamal Murray) and most highly touted young player (Knicks guard R.J. Barrett) will both attend training camp. But dealing with injuries, neither will go to China.
Other Canadian NBA players no longer in the roster pool:
Nik Stauskas is both longer in the roster pool and no longer in the NBA.
That leaves the only NBA candidates for Team Canada as:
Other Canadians heading to training camp: Aaron Best, Melvin Ejim, Brady Heslip, Kaza Kajami-Keane, Andrew Nembhard, Duane Notice, Eugene Omoruyi, Kevin Pangos, Addison Patterson, Phil Scrubb, Thomas Scrubb and Kyle Wiltjer.
That could still be a decent team, but Canada has definitely lost a lot of bite.
Just three 7-footers have averaged 3.5 3-pointers per game and made 35% of them each of the last two seasons:
The Bulls will now have most of them.
Markkanen is Chicago’s top young player. Kornet will join him with the Bulls next season.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
I’m a little surprised Kornet got more than his minimum ($3,383,360 over two years). But it’s worth taking a flier on him.
In addition to his outside shooting, Kornet has shown good timing as a shot-blocker in two seasons with the Knicks. The 24-year-old must get stronger and improve as a rebounder to play major minutes.
But the Bulls won’t have to press him into action. They also have Thaddeus Young, Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr., Daniel Gafford and Cristiano Felicio as bigs.
No Andrew Wiggins, no problem.
The disconnect between Wiggins and Canada Basketball seemed like a big deal when Wiggins looked like a budding star from a country without much basketball pedigree. But Wiggins has stagnated. Canada, on the other hand, looks like a rising international power.
Canada Basketball announced its training-camp invitations for the FIBA World Cup. The list includes a whop 17 NBA players:
Though the Nuggets clearly expect Murray to reach the next level, this group is short on star power right now. Don’t expect Canada rival Team USA. But this is a deep pool of solid players. They should be competitive in the tournament this fall in China.
This group is also pretty young. Players like Murray, Gilgeous-Alexander, Barrett, Alexander-Walker and Clarke could take Canada to an even higher level in years to come.
And then the generation that’s growing up idolizing the championship Raptors will come through. Expect Canada’s climb to continue.
The other 12 players invited to Canada Basketball’s training camp: Aaron Best, Aaron Doornekamp, Andrew Nembhard, Andy Rautins, Brady Heslip, Kevin Pangos, Kyle Wiltjer, Melvin Ejim, Naz Mitrou-Long, Oshae Brissett, Phil Scrubb, Thomas Scrubb.