Canada Basketball released an updated roster for their training camp ahead of this summer’s FIBA qualifiers, with a few names taken off an two big ones added.
Youngsters R.J. Barrett and Andrew Nembhard will join 15 other senior team players for camp, which begins Wednesday in Richmond and will include a pair of games against China in the Pacific Rim Classic. Barrett is the biggest Canadian basketball prospect of all time, as you’re surely aware, and Nembhard is coming off of a tremendous performance in the U-18 Americas tournament last week that saw Canada earn a silver medal.
Leaving the roster are Tristan Thompson, Jamal Murray, and Kevin Pangos, likely due to some combination of fatigue from long post-season runs, contract/insurance status (Pangos just signed a new deal), and the usual fatigue/individual development factors cited by the Andrew Wigginses of the world. Murray and Thompson have been such consistent stalwarts of the program that it seems likely that they’ll rejoin the mix for September qualifiers if at all possible. And even without those names providing some of the very high-end talent, Canada’s roster looks as deep as it ever has, especially compared to the two rosters they rolled out during in-season FIBA qualifiers (those teams also highlighted the depth of the program, given that none of the 14 Canadians who played in the NBA this season were available while on an NBA roster). There’s a lot to like here.
|R.J. Barrett||Guard||6’7″||Mississauga, ON||Montverde Academy (Florida)|
|Anthony Bennett||Forward||6’8″||Toronto, ON||Maine Red Claws (G-League)|
|Aaron Best||Guard||6’4″||Scarborough, ON||Raptors 905 (G-League)|
|Khem Birch*||Centre||6’9″||Montreal, QC||Orlando Magic|
|Chris Boucher||Forward||6’10”||Montreal, QC||Golden State Warriors|
|Dillon Brooks||Forward||6’7″||Mississauga, ON||Memphis Grizzlies|
|Melvin Ejim||Forward||6’6″||Toronto, ON||BC UNICS (Russia)|
|Olivier Hanlan||Guard||6’4″||Aylmer, QC||Austin Spurs (G-League)|
|Brady Heslip||Guard||6’2″||Burlington, ON||Trabzonspor (Turkey)|
|Cory Joseph*||Guard||6’3″||Toronto, ON||Indiana Pacers|
|Kaza Kajami-Keane||Guard||6’2″||Ajax, ON||Raptors 905 (G-League)|
|Andrew Nembhard||Guard||6’4″||Aurora, ON||Montverde Academy (Florida)|
|Andrew Nicholson||Forward||6’9″||Mississauga, ON||Guangdong Southern Tigers (China)|
|Kelly Olynyk||Centre||7’0″||Kamloops, BC||Miami Heat|
|Dwight Powell||Forward||6’9″||Toronto, ON||Dallas Mavericks|
|Phil Scrubb||Guard||6’3″||Richmond, BC||Fraport Skyliners (Germany)|
|Tommy Scrubb||Forward||6’6″||Richmond, BC||S.S. Felice Scandone (Italy)|
IN: R.J. Barrett, Andrew Nembhard
OUT: Jamal Murray, Kevin Pangos, Tristan Thompson
An asterisk indicates those players won’t be available for the exhibition games against China. Of this group, 12 will be selected to play against Dominican Republic in Toronto on June 29 and against U.S. Virgin Islands in Ottawa on July 2.
Canada is 3-1 in the opening qualification round so far and has punched a ticket through to the next stage (which begins in September), but they’ll want to avenge their lone loss in Group D so far, a disappointing defeat at the hands of Dominican Republic. (Bahamas is the other team in Canada’s group; Canada has already beaten them twice.) The top three teams in each group of four advance to the next round, where three of the top six in each pool (plus a seventh team) will advance to the 2019 World Cup. Records carry over into the second stage and these are the programs first home games in a long time, so they obviously wanted to put their best foot forward.
In other news, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports that the Toronto Raptors were denied permission to hire Chris Finch away from the New Orleans Pelicans to join Nick Nurse’s staff. This isn’t really surprising on either side – Finch was at the top of the list of potential Nurse assistants we identified last week, but the Pelicans weren’t likely to want to let a well-though of lead assistant go elsewhere in a lateral move. This didn’t seem worthy of its own post.
Stein also reports that every Raptors is on the table as the team seeks a top-10 pick, which isn’t at all surprising. What is surprising is that Stein identifies Canadian guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as the Raptors’ target. He hasn’t worked out for any teams and has basically been off the media radar since the combine, which is fairly unusual even for a lottery pick.
There’s a bunch of noise out there following up to this, including some other reporters putting specific names to “nobody is off the table.” It’s grain of salt season, and the Raptors leak little themselves, so be careful. With that said, it’s not exactly a secret that everything is on the table for Toronto right now.