Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins has withdrawn from Team Canada‘s Olympic qualifying tournament, and that could ultimately cost his country a shot at going to Rio de Janeiro.
Wiggins will still be eligible for the 2016 Olympics if they do well enough in the tournament; however, Canada must beat squads like Team France and Team Turkey to make it happen. He is clearly bummed about the situation, but it seems like everyone around him has told the forward to sit this one out.
“After much thought, consideration and speaking with my family, I will not be participating in the Olympic qualifying tournament with the Canadian Men’s National Team in July,” Wiggins said in a prepared statement. “As my third NBA season approaches, I understand my increased role with the Timberwolves and dedication to the upcoming season must have my total focus. We are building a championship contending team, which has always been my goal. This was definitely not an easy decision and I fully support and wish Team Canada nothing but success this summer.”
It makes sense that he would concentrate on the Timberwolves for next season, because new head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau basically lives in the gym during the offseason. Wiggins was the 2014-15 rookie of the year, but he has to prove himself again with Thibodeau manning the ship now. The Timberwolves have a lot of phenomenal pieces to build their future around, and they have another lottery pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Minnesota will be back in the playoffs before too long; Wiggins is just trying to stay ready.
The man some call “Maple Jordan” has been super durable in his first two seasons of professional basketball. He’s only missed one game while averaging over 35 minutes per contest, and it’s a shame that he won’t use this stamina to help Canada make the Olympics. He isn’t the only Canadian to pull out of the qualifiers, though. Tristan Thompson has stayed quiet about whether or not he’ll participate during the NBA Finals, but Nik Stauskas and Anthony Bennett have opted out officially. Kelly Olynyk wants to be involved, but he is rehabbing from shoulder surgery.
Wiggins is probably making the right decision when it concerns his health, and so it’s hard to blame him for bailing on his country. However, he was a proud Canadian before ever getting into the NBA, and it would be surprising if he skipped the Olympics should his team qualify without him.