Heat’s Kelly Olynyk keeping one eye on Canada Basketball head coach hunt

Miami Heat forward Kelly Olynyk celebrates after shooting a 3-pointer in the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019, in Miami. (Brynn Anderson/AP)

TORONTO – Kelly Olynyk has a full plate at the moment.

The sixth year forward with the Miami Heat is trying help his club into the post-season for the fifth straight year.

As the Heat were getting ready to play the Toronto Raptors Sunday afternoon, Miami was one game out of eighth place in the East with two games left after their Toronto stop.

But Olynyk has had an eye on his other team — the Canadian men’s senior national team — that is in the midst of searching for a head coach in advance of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, which tips off in China on August 31st.

But as the search goes along he’s like everyone else: watching and waiting.

"Obviously right now we’re trying to make the playoffs, we don’t really have the time and the effort and the energy to put into that at the moment and also, we don’t really know if we have that power," he said prior to the rare noon start at Scotiabank Arena. " … Obviously we can have some input, but at the end of the day, it’s whoever they come up with. Hopefully they come up with someone who can lead us, and help us accomplish what we need to accomplish."

Olynyk will likely be the only player in China who was with Canada at their last World Championship appearance back in 2010. He was also on the floor when Canada blew a seven-point lead in the final minutes against Venezuela at the 2015 Tournament of the Americas where a win would have qualified Canada for the 2016 Olympics. Canada has made one Olympic appearance – in Sydney in 2000 – since 1988.

Count Olynyk as one of those who thinks Triano has been unfairly maligned for that stumble.

Would he have had any issues with Triano leading the team to China?

"No, not at all," Olynyk said. "I thought he did a great job. We came up short but it was nothing to do with him or who was there. We should have won when we lost against Venezuela."

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Olynyk says he would prioritize leadership and the ability to quickly build a team culture over technical ability or experience level in a new coach.

"It’s not a thing where we need someone to micromanage a game and do all that stuff and trick other teams," he said. "We have the talent, we have the abilities we just need someone to help us put them to the test.

"It’s a lot like an NBA team. A lot of teams have a lot of talent, but if you make the team greater than the sum of its parts then you’re going to be real good and we have the talent," he said. "We have the people to fill those roles, we just need someone to bring us together and kind of guide and help us achieve our goals."

According to sources, there are two candidates for the job that have been interviewed from the initial shortlist – Roy Rana and Gord Herbert – who are still available. Triano withdrew from consideration before having an interview and San Antonio Spurs assistant Ettore Messina withdrew after being interviewed. Canada Basketball general manager Rowan Barrett and CB chief executive officer Glen Grunwald have since expanded their search, according to sources.

Olynyk says who ends up getting the job could affect who chooses to play at the Worlds but cautions against that being a primary criterion.

"Guys will have their reasons for playing and for not playing and you have to respect them both ways, whatever they are. People have their reasons. I don’t think a coach is super influential on those reasons, but obviously guys want to play for some people, and other guys maybe other people aren’t as attractive a situation," he said. "I don’t know if it deters anybody, maybe it’s just not as attractive. You never know what’s going through guys’ heads. But hopefully they figure it out sooner rather than later so that we have a little time to get things rolling."

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