Brandon Rahbar: Daigneault on SGA’s injury and possibly playing with Canada this summer: “Shai’s a young guy, but he’s a smart guy. He understands the big picture. He’s gonna prioritize getting healthy. As far as the national team, that’ll be his decision.”
Michael Grange: Nurse said he was happy but not surprised Khem Birch said he planned to play for Canada this summer but didn’t plan to shut him down to keep him healthy. Says these end of season games are important reps for him.
With the revised NBA schedule, the final qualifying tournament for Canada will be June 29 to July 4 in Victoria, B.C. If all goes well, a spot in the Tokyo Olympics July 23 to Aug. 8 will come before free agency. Players often choose to be cautious about any chance to sustain an injury when they are not under contract, but Olynyk said Wednesday he still hopes to compete. “That’s obviously my goal,” Olynyk said. “Obviously, I played for Canada for more years than I played in the NBA. It’s always been a goal of mine to play in the Olympics and represent Canada on the highest stage. Hopefully, we can this summer. Hopefully, I get that opportunity.”
At the time, the NBA was on its normal schedule, allowing players to complete their free agency decisions before the usual Olympics schedule. The revised schedule, however, would give him something to consider, if not necessarily enough to change his plans. “It definitely does change that,” Olynyk said. “Usually, your free agency is done July 1 and the Olympics are the beginning of August and you’re good to go. Now, the Olympics are the end of July and free agency is the beginning of August, so it’s kind of flip-flopped. Obviously, that plays a role and you have to think about it, whether it’s insurance or what the best route to go is. We’ll cross those bridges when they come but my goal is to go out there and play and represent my country.”
But his absence also has implications for the Canadian National Team as it enters Olympic qualifying in Victoria, British Columbia June 29-July 4 . The winner of the event which also features China, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Uruguay and Greece (coached by Rick Pitino) will receive one of four remaining berths in the men’s Olympic basketball tournament this summer in Tokyo. Canada hasn’t made the Olympics since 2000, when current Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash was the team’s star.
In a next-level spinoff this summer, when the Canadian men’s national basketball team tries to qualify for its first Olympics since the Sydney Games in 2000, it will play on the court upon which the Toronto Raptors in 2019 became the first team based outside the United States to win an N.B.A. championship. “We want the entire court to be the lucky loonie,” said Scott Lake, a board member of Canada Basketball who was instrumental in the federation’s bid to obtain that court and host a six-team Olympic men’s qualifying tournament in Victoria, British Columbia, from June 29 to July 4.