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Canada Basketball

Around the NBA: Canadians traded at the deadline

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Apr 1, 2021

A week after the NBA trade deadline, the dust continues to settle. In one of the most active deadlines in history, players shifted teams, conferences and situations. A handful of Canadians in the league were memorizing new addresses by the time last Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET deadline passed. First up was Kelly Olynyk who moved to the Houston Rockets after spending the last three and a half seasons with the Miami Heat. Next was veteran guard Cory Joseph who went from Sacramento to Detroit, reuniting with former Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. Mfiondu Kabengele moved from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Sacramento Kings, and was later released to open up a roster spot for the Kings. The final trade involving a Canadian on the deadline was a three-way trade that sent Knicks forward Ignas Brazdeikis to the Philadelphia 76ers. In a non-trade move, Canadian Oshae Brissett signed a 10-day contract with the Indiana Pacers after spending this season with Indiana’s G League affiliate Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

While being uprooted mid-season can be tough, Joseph welcomed the reunion with Casey, who he spent two years with during their time in Toronto. The veteran point guard found the adjustment to playing in Casey’s system again to be a smooth one. Joseph scored nine points and then eight points in his first two games with the Pistons, then scored 17 points in a 118-104 victory over the Raptors. On Wednesday, he added 11 points and nine rebounds against the Blazers. “Playing for Dwane in the past, the communication that we have allowed me to feel a lot more comfortable from the jump,” Joseph said after his first game with the Pistons.

Similarly, Olynyk has already made a mark in his first two games with the Rockets, scoring 16 points to go with four rebounds, four assists and three steals in a 129-107 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He followed that up with a season high 25-point, nine-rebound showing in a 120-110 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. On Wednesday, in a Rockets loss to the Brooklyn Nets, Olynyk contributed 14 points, three rebounds, four assists and two blocked shots.

Though there is still much to get familiar with in Houston’s offense (and defence), Olynyk said the biggest key for the Rockets is playing hard and together. “We have a bunch of new guys playing together, trying to figure out the system,” Olynyk told the Orlando Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. “We haven’t practiced once since I’ve been here. For us, it’s just about playing hard on both ends of the floor, playing together, moving the ball offensively, creating shots for each other.”

Getting traded during the middle of the season can be difficult. These two veterans used their experience and professionalism to adapt to their new teams with relative ease.

Performances of note

  • The New Orleans Pelicans have given Nickeil Alexander-Walker extended playing time this month. It’s paid off. After averaging 4.3 points in 11.5 minutes per game for the month of February, Alexander-Walker’s scoring average for March has increased 10 points per game, as he’s averaged 14.1 points in 26.5 minutes per contest. For the season, Alexander-Walker is averaging 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game.
  • RJ Barrett’s sophomore season continues to impress. In three Knicks victories this past week (where the Knicks went 3-1 overall for the week), Barrett averaged 22 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists in 39.6 minutes per game. For the month of March, Barrett averaged 20 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
  • Andrew Wiggins has continued to put up numbers for the Golden State Warriors. The sixth-year forward is averaging 18.2 points per game this season, and 21.3 points per contest for the month of March. In three games this past week, Wiggins averaged 25.3 points to go with 6.7 rebounds, four assists and a block, while shooting 54 percent from the floor and 59 percent from beyond the arc.
  • The Denver Nuggets went 3-0 this week and not coincidentally, Jamal Murray also had a very good week. In the team’s 113-108 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, Murray had 23 points and 11 assists. He followed that up with 17 points in a 126-102 blowout victory against the Atlanta Hawks and then lit up the scoreboard with 30 points, six rebounds and four assists in a 104-95 Nuggets win against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Game of the Week

New York Knicks @ Brooklyn Nets, Monday, April 1st, 7 p.m. ET

As teams attempted to retool and gear up for the postseason at this year’s trade deadline, the Brooklyn Nets were busy. After signing Blake Griffin following a buyout with the Detroit Pistons, the Nets also signed LaMarcus Aldridge following his buyout with the San Antonio Spurs. With Aldridge and Griffin joining James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Ivring, the Nets now have five players on their roster with at least six All-Star appearances each on their roster.

After posting a 6-7 record for the month of March, the Knicks are third in the Atlantic division and sixth in the Eastern Conference. As the season begins to wind down, every win becomes more important in the jumbled Eastern Conference standings. Sophomore star RJ Barrett has been solid in March, averaging 20 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game. Barrett (along with big man Julius Randle) will be an integral part of any late push the Knicks make in the standings. Monday’s game will also see Barrett face off against his godfather, Nets head coach Steve Nash.