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Canada's Bennett trying to stay focused on upcoming season amid trade chatter

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TORONTO - It has been an unusual summer to say the least for two of Canada's top young basketball players.

Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett have been front and centre in off-season NBA talk, with the Cleveland Cavaliers expected to send them to Minnesota with a first-round pick for all-star forward Kevin Love.

The reported deal can't be consummated until Aug. 23, when Wiggins is eligible to be traded.

Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick last June, deftly danced around questions about his future when he returned to his hometown of Vaughan, Ont., last week to shoot a commercial.

It was Bennett's turn Monday as he attended the opening day of the NBA Americas Team Camp at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. The sophomore forward from nearby Brampton, Ont., wouldn't bite when asked about the reported deal, but said he has kept in touch with Wiggins over the last few weeks.

"We've been going back and forth a lot," Bennett said. "I know he's busy so I don't really try to hit him up too much. But he said he's working too. So there's not much we can do, you know."

Bennett was drafted first overall by the Cavaliers last year but struggled in his rookie campaign, averaging just 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds a game in limited action.

He has dropped some weight over the last few months and was impressive in summer league play. Bennett said he learned a lot over the last year and is determined to come back strong next season.

"I can fight through adversity," Bennett said. "It wasn't the best of seasons for me. I will admit that. Fighting the injuries and just the way things were, just never really made me give up. I always just stayed in the gym."

Bennett, 21, could officially become a member of the Timberwolves by the weekend but you'd never know it by listening to his five-minute media scrum.

The questions kept coming and Bennett politely answered without revealing much of anything.

So, is he paying attention to the big date looming on Saturday?

"I have no idea about that," he said. "I've just been pretty much working myself. I'm just trying to get ready for the season."

Any worries about being dealt?

"I'm just a young man that's ready to work," he said. "Wherever I end up, it doesn't really matter to me. I just want to play basketball."

Has it been a distraction?

"Not distracting at all," he said. "I'm still focused on what I have to do. Just working hard, keeping my body healthy, watching what I eat."

Bennett finally opened up a little when asked about whether he had any advice for Wiggins as a fellow first overall pick.

"Pretty much I just told him to work hard," he said. "Just try not to listen to everybody. You can have one bad game, you can have one real good game.

"But you know, it's just a long season full of ups and downs."

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Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

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