There may be a little bit of good news coming out of the Toronto Raptors' disappointing season.
Not only should Nick Nurse be available to coach the team at the Victoria FIBA qualifiers late next month, but some of the Canadian Raptors will likely be on the court alongside their head coach. Chief among them is Khem Birch, a former member of the Canadian men's national team, who said he's planning to play for the red and white this summer.
"If I miraculously get hurt or something then I probably won’t, but if I’m healthy by the end of the year then I’m gonna play," Birch said Tuesday night.
That should be welcomed news both for Canada basketball and for the Raptors. Oftentimes players without contracts are hesitant to play for the national team due to injury concerns. The last thing anyone wants to do is get injured right before clinching a big payday. While Birch is heading for free agency this summer, it sounds like he feels relatively comfortable with his spot within the Raptors organization and he's willing to accept the small risk for a chance to represent his country and develop alongside Nurse and the Canadian men.
Unfortunately, Canada will be without Jamal Murray who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in late April. Oklahoma City Thunder guard Lu Dort said he plans to try out for the team when his NBA season is over. His teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had previously committed to playing for the team before the COVID-19 pandemic.