MIAMI – The injury that sidelined Miami Heat forward Kelly Olynyk during a Wednesday exhibition with the Canadian national team in Toronto turned out to be nothing more than a bruised knee.
Part of the roster that Canada is preparing for the World Cup later this month in China, the former Gonzaga star took an awkward tumble during the third quarter of an exhibition against Nigeria.
That led to initial concerns of something more serious. Instead, there was encouraging news Thursday, with Michael Grange, a reporter for Canada’s Rogers Sportsnet, posting on Twitter that Olynyk, “will take a week off but continue on to the Worlds as planned.”
X-rays were negative.
Canada is next scheduled for another exhibition against Nigeria on Friday in Winnipeg, before traveling to Australia for a five-game exhibition series against the United States, New Zealand and Australia that runs Aug. 16-26. The World Cup opens Aug. 31. Olynyk had not planned to play in Friday’s game due to previous plans to attend a wedding.
Olynyk, a mainstay on the Canadian national team, had 11 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in his 16 minutes before being sidelined in the 96-87 victory.
Like USA Basketball, Canada is dealing with a limited roster after several players elected to bypass the World Cup, with Tristan Thompson, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jamal Murray, R.J. Barrett, Andrew Wiggins, Dwight Powell and Brandon Clarke among those skipping the opportunity with Canada.
Olynyk is entering the third season of the four-year, $50 million contract he signed with the Heat in the 2017 offseason, with the right to opt out and become a free agent next summer. The 28-year-old closed last season as a Heat starter in the power rotation alongside Bam Adebayo, who is trying out for the U.S. National Team during USA Basketball camp in Las Vegas.
Olynyk stressed at the start of Canada’s camp that he viewed playing for the national team as an opportunity he could not bypass.
“To be able to compete for your country and help your country out, put your country on the map, you know, it’s something special,” the Toronto-born, Kamloops, B.C.-raised 7-footer told the Toronto Star. “And to be able to put on a jersey with Canada on the front, it’s a prideful thing, it’s a special thing. It’s an opportunity that’ll pass you by quicker than you think. So to be able to come out here and do that, it’s always something to look back on, tell your kids, your family, friends.
“It’s something in the history books. So it’s something to do and something not to take for granted.”
The Heat open training camp the last week of September, with their preseason opener the following week and their regular season starting Oct. 23.
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