Canadian men’s basketball team faces U.S. in exhibition ahead of Paris Olympics | CBC Sports

Canadian men’s basketball team faces U.S. in exhibition ahead of Paris Olympics | CBC Sports

The Canadian men’s basketball team will get its first litmus test ahead of the Paris Olympics.

Canada goes head-to-head with the United States on Wednesday night in an exhibition game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The seventh-ranked Canadians last saw the top-ranked Americans in the bronze-medal game at the FIBA World Cup in September, when Canada came out on top 127-118 in overtime to win its first-ever medal at the event.

Both teams have since beefed up their rosters in preparation for the 12-team tournament at the Games, scheduled from July 27 to Aug. 10.

Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray and rising Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nembhard entered the fold for Canada, joining the likes of NBA MVP finalist Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and fellow NBAers RJ Barrett and Dillon Brooks.

The Americans, meanwhile, added NBA stars LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, and more, as they look to win their fifth consecutive Olympic gold medal.

Kawhi Leonard a no-go for Paris

Derrick White of the NBA champion Boston Celtics has replaced the Los Angeles Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard on the U.S. team for the Paris Olympics, USA Basketball said Wednesday in the first shakeup to a roster that was announced in the spring.

Leonard, who led the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title in 2019, missed 12 of the Los Angeles Clippers’ final 14 games this past season with right knee inflammation, though he said in recent days he felt fine and the knee was doing well. USA Basketball said it, along with the Clippers, made the decision on Leonard’s status for Paris.

“Kawhi has been ramping up for the Olympics over the past several weeks and had a few strong practices in Las Vegas,” USA Basketball said in a statement. “He felt ready to compete. However, he respects that USA Basketball and the Clippers determined it’s in his best interest to spend the remainder of the summer preparing for the upcoming season rather than participating in the Olympic Games in Paris.”

Leonard is a two-time NBA champion, six-time all-star and six-time All-NBA player, but injury issues have been a recurring theme in his career. USA Basketball had monitored him closely in recent weeks, making sure he was doing well enough to be on the court after his season with the Clippers ended prematurely.

He has missed 256 regular-season games over the last seven years, including all of the 2021-22 season with knee trouble. He appeared in 68 games this past season for the Clippers, his most since playing in 74 for San Antonio during the 2016-17 season.

White averaged 15.2 points and 5.2 assists for the Celtics this past season.

He is expected to be in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, later this week to join the U.S. squad. The team will fly to Abu Dhabi from Las Vegas on Thursday and is scheduled to practice there Saturday ahead of exhibition games against Australia on July 15 and Serbia on July 17.

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