Pre-game news & notes: Sullinger sits again, Lowry to opt out, VanVleet starts

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We’re going to keep it pretty brief again in the pre-game notes on account of this being a 10:30 start, a preseason game, and one that’s forcing me to miss basketball because nobody could cover the Quick Reaction, so I’m tired and a little salty. But hey, it’s basketball, how bad can life be, right? Also, you’ve got a full game preview here.

The game tips off at 10:30 p.m (Eastern). on TSN 1/4.

Kyle Lowry to opt out
In a pretty great piece that provides some interesting detail about Kyle Lowry’s end-of-season exit interview from 2015, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical confirms the obvious: That Lowry will opt out of his deal after the season, forgoing his $12-million player option. Barring injury, that was always going to be the case, and there’s absolutely no cause to react. Like DeMar DeRozan last year, Lowry is just making the smart play from an individual standpoint, looking to maximize his earnings on what will likely be his last major deal. And like DeRozan, Lowry isn’t going to talk about free agency much, and when he does, he’ll say the right things.

As Wojnarowski writes:

Lowry plans to opt out of the final year of his contract, he told The Vertical, passing on a $12 million salary in 2017-18 to join a point-guard marketplace that will include the Los Angeles ClippersChris Paul and Golden State’s Steph Curry, who has already said he plans to re-sign with the Warriors.

Lowry, 30, loves the life he has there, the contending core, the endorsement opportunities, the manic fanbase and the chance to someday raise his No. 7 into the arena rafters. Somewhere on the summer market – Philadelphia, New York, perhaps the Clippers, should they lose Paul – there will be an offer in the neighborhood of a max deal for him. Nevertheless, Lowry’s preference is a painless, fast, five-year deal to stay in Toronto, to take him into his mid-30s with the Raptors.

At the same time, Lowry admitted he’s “open to seeing what else is out there” if he and the Raptors aren’t close to a deal “at 12:01 a.m. on July 1,” as they were with DeRozan. Most notably, Lowry is looking for a five-year deal that we can assume will be something close to the max, which is a conversation for another time and article. For what it’s worth, the Raptors hold the hammer of being able to offer a fifth year on a deal and  slightly larger annual raises, the former of which will likely matter more than the latter, assuming Lowry’s game for a DeRozan-like sub-max agreement.

Raptors updates
As mentioned in the preview, Carroll and Sullinger sat on Monday. Sullinger is dealing with a sore foot and was expected to be back for this one but will sit once again after going through shootaround. With a long stretch off ahead, the team is playing it cautious, which makes sense. Worry to the degree you care to worry, though. Carroll was just getting a night off for rest and will return to the lineup.

UPDATE: VanVleet is drawing the start at point guard, so while Lowry is technically available, it seems very likely that he’s getting a night off, as we speculated may be the case in the preview.

PG: Fred VanVleet,Cory Joseph, Fred VanVleet, Delon Wright, Kyle Lowry
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, Drew Crawford, Brady Heslip
SF: DeMarre Carroll, Terrence Ross, Bruno Caboclo, E.J. Singler
PF: Patrick Patterson, Pascal Siakam, Jarrod Uthoff, Jared Sullinger
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Lucas Nogueira, Jakob Poeltl, Yanick Moreira

For reference, here’s how the minutes have shaken out so far:

Known commodities: Lowry 38, DeRozan 37, Patterson 37, Valanciunas 34, Joseph 34, Carroll 19
Getting acclimated: Sullinger 23
Competition 1: Siakam 43, Poeltl 26, Nogueira 26
Competition 2: Powell 39, Ross 35
Competition 3: Crawford 36, VanVleet 26, Singler 6, Heslip/Uthoff/Moreira 0
Other: Caboclo 21, Wright 0

Clippers updates
I’m not sure if we can glean a whole lot from L.A.’s rotation on Tuesday, and the back-to-back could throw a wrench into things. We do know, thanks to our pal Jovan Buha, that J.J. Redick is getting the night off to rest and do handsome people things.

PG: Chris Paul, Xavier Munford
SG: Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick
SF: Austin Rivers (??), Luc Mbah a Moute, Wesley Johnson, Alan Anderson, Paul Pierce
PF: Blake Griffin, Brandon Bass, Dorell Wright, Brice Johnson
C: DeAndre Jordan, Mo Speights, Diamond Stone

This is just the greatest:

The line
The Raptors are 2.5-point underdogs because Vegas hates you, the team, and the city. You know what that means: Preseason #ProveEm. Or something. It’s an exhibition, the outcome will likely be determined by the Siakam-Johnson battle, one that would have been a rager had Johnson lasted to No. 27 and the Raptors still taken Siakam (Johnson was one of the most popular picks in reader polls).

As a reminder, the Raptors head home from here for what amounts to a second mini-camp in Toronto, with no games on the slate until next Thursday.

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