With his first season under new Timberwolves president of basketball operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau looming, Andrew Wiggins announced Friday he would not play for Team Canada in an Olympic qualifying tournament next month.
Wiggins, a Toronto native who will be entering his third NBA season this fall, would still be eligible to play for Canada should it ultimately make the Olympic field. But he will not be with the national team at the training camp this month or at the qualifying tournament next month in Manila.
In a statement released by Wiggins and Bill Duffy Associates — Wiggins’ representation — he explained his decision:
“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.”
The 2014-15 NBA Rookie of the Year, Wiggins increased his scoring from 16.9 to 20.7 points per game in his second season.
Wiggins, 21, is part of a young core of players that also includes the reigning rookie of the year, Karl-Anthony Towns and Zach LaVine, who was recently named to the USA Select Team, that will train with the U.S. national team during its camp in July in Las Vegas.
Also Friday, Oklahoma City guard Russell Westbrook said he won’t play in the Olympics, leaving the U.S. basketball team without another of its best players. He didn’t give a reason.
A league source told the Sacramento Bee that Kings All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins has been told he has a spot on the U.S. team and that Cousins has said he will play.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.