Tristan Thompson is unlikely to play for Canada in the Olympic qualifying tournament this summer, in a Dec. 16, 2019 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Tristan Thompson is unlikely to play for Canada in the Olympic qualifying tournament this summer, in a Dec. 16, 2019 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Thompson’s contract status likely to keep him out of Olympic qualifying

TORONTO — Nick Nurse says Tristan Thompson would “look good” playing for Canada’s men’s basketball team this summer.

It might take getting to the Tokyo Olympics, however, for that to happen.

Thompson has been a mainstay of the national men’s team for the past several years, but his NBA contract status will likely keep the Cleveland Cavaliers forward from playing in the Olympic qualifying tournament this summer.

“We hope he plays,” Nurse said before his Toronto Raptors tipped off against Cleveland. ”It’s a little difficult for me to comment on that kind of stuff sometimes. But as with any of them, we hope he plays, he’s one of the best rebounding bigs in the world, playing on the world stage. He’d look good on our team.”

The 28-year-old from Brampton, Ont., becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, three days after the Canada’s last-chance qualifier in Victoria ends.

Thompson was hesitant to talk about this summer at Monday morning’s shootaround, saying: “I’m just thinking about tonight, playing against the Raptors at home at 7:30 at Scotiabank Arena. So that’s where my mindset is at. I’m happy Nick Nurse is the coach.”

But it’s unlikely Thompson or Miami Heat centre Kelly Olynyk — who would also be without a contract if he opts out of his deal — will play in the June 23-28 tournament, which Canada must win to earn its first Olympic berth in the 20 years.

Both Thompson and Olynyk could join the Canadian team for the Tokyo Games.

Thompson has yet to play for Nurse, who was hired by Canada Basketball shortly after the Raptors’ historic NBA championship run, but he’s pleased with the choice.

“We’ve got a good relationship and he’s a great guy,” Thompson said. “For him to take time out of his summer, especially after winning a championship, to coach the national team (at the World Cup in China last August) says a lot about his character and how much he cares about Canada Basketball.”

Thompson has stepped up numerous times when Canada has come calling. He played in Canada’s last-chance qualifier for the Rio Olympics in the Philippines, in which Canada lost to France in the final to narrowly miss an Olympic berth. He also played in a handful of Canada’s qualifying games for the 2019 World Cup, among other tournaments.

Last month saw a groundswell of Canadian players enthusiastically declare their intention to play for Canada this summer.

Denver Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who hasn’t worn the red and white since the 2015 Pan American Games, got the ball rolling, tweeting: “I want to play my part to help push our team into the Olympics and compete at the highest world stage.”

RJ Barrett, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Melvin Ejim, Kyle Wiltjer and Trey Lyles all quickly followed suit.

“It’s good that guys are finding times in their schedules to play for the national team,” Thompson said. “We’ve got a lot of pros and we’ve got more coming every year, so the fact that guys are stepping up and making themselves available to play is huge, and it’s great for Canada Basketball.”

Thompson, who won an NBA championship with Cleveland in 2016, said he was happy to see his hometown Raptors win.

“It was huge for the city, huge for the country … Toronto basketball’s on the rise,” he said. “It was great with Kawhi (Leonard) and it especially was huge for Kyle (Lowry), just because I know how many times we’d beat up on him in the playoffs.”

The Raptors were eliminated by Cleveland in the three previous post-seasons, winning just two of a combined 14 games.

“I’m happy for them, they deserved it and now we’re gonna try to get a win tonight,” Thompson said.

Thompson is having a strong season averaging 13.1 points and 9.8 rebounds. He had 18 points and eight rebounds in Monday night’s 133-113 rout by Toronto.

“Tristan’s always going to be right up there at the top of the best reboundng bigs in the league. Gosh, and he’s sure had some amazing games in this building,” Nurse said. ”I hope he doesn’t have one of them tonight, because he’s really been a handful in this building a few times. I think there were a couple 18-rebounder nights in there.”

Cleveland, however, hasn’t been enjoying much success. The Cavs (6-21) have lost 10 of their last 11 games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 16, 2019.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Andre Lemus, the owner of Las Palmeras in Red Deer, says he hopes in-person dining restrictions are lifted this upcoming Thursday. (Photo courtesy www.laspalmeras.ca)
Red Deer restaurant owner hopes in-person dining restrictions are lifted Thursday

The owner of a Red Deer restaurant says business has “dropped” since… Continue reading

The Town of Ponoka and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) have ratified a new agreement, averting a strike. (File photo from Facebook)
Alberta gov’t ‘using pandemic as shield to lay off workers,’ says AUPE

The Government of Alberta’s “attacks on workers” is continuing with a new… Continue reading

Rocky Mountain House RCMP, EMS, Search and Rescue, STARS air ambulance and Alstrom Helicopters worked together to rescue a fallen ice climber Friday. (Photo contributed by Rocky Mountain House RCMP)
Rocky Mountain House RCMP help rescue fallen ice climber

Rocky Mountain RCMP helped assist a fallen ice climber Friday afternoon. At… Continue reading

Students Association of Red Deer College president Brittany Lausen says she’s pleased the college is offering students a choice to attend class in-person or remotely. (Red Deer Advocate file photo)
Red Deer College winter term enrolment dips

Enrolment down about six per cent but mix of online and in-person instruction is going over well

Dwayne Buckle, 40 of Red Deer finished a 1,638-kilometre walk, in honour of his family. The 12-week, 82 day-journey wrapped up in Port Hardy, B.C. on Monday. Facebook photo
Red Deer man completes 1,638 km hike for cancer research

Dwayne Buckle, a Red Deer firefighter returned home Friday after his 12-week journey

Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party: O’Toole

OTTAWA — Federal Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole says there is “no place… Continue reading

Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage addresses the attendees while Tom Olsen, Managing Director of the Canadian Energy Centre, looks on at a press conference at SAIT in Calgary on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Greg Fulmes
‘Morally and ethically wrong:’ Court to hear challenge to Alberta coal policy removal

First Nations, ranchers, municipal officials and environmentalists hope to persuade a judge… Continue reading

Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Delisle arrives at Nova Scotia provincial court for a sentencing hearing in Halifax on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Canada’s spy-catching system caused delay, angst in Delisle case: former FBI official

OTTAWA — The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s former head of counter-intelligence… Continue reading

People wait to be screened before entering Little Mountain Place, a long-term care home that has had 41 residents die since a COVID-19 outbreak was declared at the facility in November in Vancouver on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Staff in long-term care homes across Canada are struggling to isolate elderly residents with dementia during COVID-19 outbreaks, accelerating the deadly spread of the virus, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Care home staff struggle to isolate dementia patients during outbreaks: experts

VANCOUVER — Staff in long-term care homes across Canada are struggling to… Continue reading

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what's fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most… Continue reading

Winnipeg Jets' Blake Wheeler (26) just misses the net against goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during  scrimmage at their NHL training camp practice in Winnipeg, Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Jets return to practice a day after suspending workouts due to COVID concerns

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have returned to practice a day after… Continue reading

Travellers wait at the Covid-19 testing facility at Heathrow Airport in London, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. The UK will close all travel corridors from Monday morning to protect against the coronavirus with travellers entering the country from overseas are required to have proof of a negative Covid test.(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
UK aims to give 1st COVID-19 shot to all adults by September

LONDON — The U.K. government plans to offer a first dose of… Continue reading

Most Read