“Give me some popcorn. I just want to watch it,” Aldridge joked after the Spurs beat the Celtics on Monday. “If I could get some popcorn and watch it, I would, but I might have to play.”
Aldridge said he can’t speak for DeMar DeRozan but is sure it’ll be an emotional matchup.
“I know it’s definitely not another game (to DeRozan), for sure,” Aldridge said.
The Spurs traded Leonard and Green to the Toronto Raptors in July for DeRozan and second-year center Jakob Poeltl. A protected 2019 first-round pick for the Spurs was also included in the trade.
The move caught DeRozan by surprise as he said Raptors officials had informed him that he was safe from being traded. DeRozan had also always said he wanted to retire a Raptor.
In the immediate aftermath of the trade, DeRozan was vocal about how he felt betrayed by Raptors staff, including Raptors President Masai Ujiri.
Leonard is still beloved by many, and shunned by others. But, either day, when he takes the court against his former coach and teammates Thursday night, Spurs fans will be watching.
And, they’ll be paying a pretty penny for those seats.
Mark Travis owns Alamo Tickets in San Antonio, and says prices have sky-rocketed for seats to see the controversial San Antonio legend back in town.
“The average prices for most games this year have been somewhere between 15 and 20 dollars and tomorrow’s around 45,” said Travis.
No doubt it will be a packed house. Travis said Alamo Tickets sold 50 seats in one day.
“I guess because Kawhi is coming back and people want to see him,” said Travis.
There is one deal for college students who have the opportunity to see the game for $20 standing room only tickets.
Pop on DeMar: "There was no doubt he was hurt and a little bit angry (about the trade), but anybody would be considering the circumstances. But he got over it… We talked about it, but he handled it pretty much on his own because he is so mature. That was never a big issue."
— Josh Lewenberg (@JLew1050) January 2, 2019
Former Toronto Raptor Jerome Williams catches up with CBC Sports Anson Henry about the Raptors and the DeMar DeRozan trade while sharing his favourite gameday meal.
He was asked if there was a moment when he couldn’t believe the Spurs traded him.
“No,” Green responded. “You know how this league is. No one is really safe, especially there. I’ve seen so many guys, not traded but waived, cut, moved up and down, shipped out. You see that in any organization. Only guys that were safe there were Timmy (Duncan) and I don’t even know if you could say Tony (Parker) and Manu (Ginobili), but even then I think there were talks at some point of them being moved. But you know how business is. I saw how it was going and things were changing. No one was really safe.”
In any event, it isn’t in Green’s nature to lament what could have been. He saw a good fit for him in Toronto and the fact that he was going to a team that was already contending and he was doing so with one of the five best players in the league in Leonard.
Lowry (back) will remain out for Thursday’s game against San Antonio, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports.
Lowry received injections in his lower-back a few days ago, and while the team said he’s making progress, he’ll be held out Thursday, marking his ninth absence in 10 games. Expect Fred VanVleet to make another start in Lowry’s place.
3. Raptors (28-11, LW 2). The Raptors are 7-4 in their last 11, which is impressive considering they have been without either Kyle Lowry or Kawhi Leonard for each of those games. As much as they miss Lowry (the offense is 16 points per 100 possessions better with him on the court) the injury to Jonas Valanciunas has hurt the bench and the rebounding of the Raptors and cost them games of late. Thursday night Kawhi Leonard returns to San Antonio to take on the Spurs and fans there will not exactly greet him warmly after he forced his way out of town.
Coach Nick Nurse said Wednesday that Valanciunas (thumb) will be sidelined for an additional 3-to-4 weeks, Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports.
Valanciunas underwent surgery to address the dislocated left thumb on Dec. 13 and has yet to resume any basketball-related activities since. Though Valanciunas was initially expected to miss around four weeks following the procedure, Nurse’s comments suggest that original timetable is no longer valid. With the big man now trending toward a late-January return date at the earliest, Serge Ibaka will continue to benefit from a minor bump in fantasy value as the clear top center. Valanciunas’ ongoing absence also should keep a regular spot in the rotation for Greg Monroe as the second-unit pivot.
“You look up, the last championship was five years ago,” DeRozan says, gesturing to a banner hanging on the wall at the Spurs’ practice facility. “(It’s different) seeing something so recent. In Toronto, everything was a building block. I remember winning the first playoff series or winning 50-plus games, winning the division, everything was so new. Coming to a situation like this, the standards are so high, there’s only one standard to be at, that’s to be at the championship (level).”
With his first game against the Raptors approaching Thursday night – a much-hyped post-trade showdown that sees both DeRozan and Leonard make their first starts against their former teams, the Raptors icon is doing his best to help make up for Leonard’s departure from San Antonio.
“I mean, he’s really good,” Siakam said after the game, laughing. “He’s really good, man. People kind of forgot a little bit.”
And where better to continue reminding people than San Antonio? Perhaps you’ve noticed there is some added interest in Toronto’s upcoming regular season game with the Spurs — the one everyone will be watching on Thursday.
With DeMar DeRozan facing the Raptors for the first time since his stunning summer trade, Kyle Lowry fighting to get over a back injury in time to play against his best friend (the Raptors point guard is listed as doubtful), and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich seeing Leonard for the first time since questioning his leadership, there is no shortage of provocative storylines running through the night before we even mention the most compelling one of all.
The C.J. Miles Trade Market
The 31-year old sharpshooter is lacking anything resembling a rhythm right now. Miles’ minutes are almost half of what he was playing in 2017. In the past five games he’s played just shy of 40 minutes and that includes two DNP-CDs.
Now, the erratic nature of Miles’ role has meant he hasn’t been able to roll in and shoot the lights out. Still, when given the time, like 25 minutes against the Magic, Miles has been ice cold. He went 1-of-9 from the field and 0-of-5 from beyond the arc in that Orlando game and continues to look lost. In 2018-19 he’s played more than 16 minutes in only seven games for the Raptors and is well down on court time compared to last year. Toronto could be looking for an upgrade somewhere on their roster, and with the trade deadline looming, I wonder if C.J. is one of the Raptors on the block.
There are moments in life when external factors can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to display career growth. This is the story of Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam who is currently being praised for the improvement and work ethic he has shown.
His teammate Fred VanVleet alluded to this when he spoke to James Herbert of CBS Sports:
“As a teammate and as a brother, it’s just fun to see his role expand,” VanVleet said. “I mean obviously he’s gotten better, don’t get me wrong, but the stuff he’s doing now, he could do two years ago. You’re only as good as your role, and I think that they’ve put him in a position to where he can showcase all of his skills.”
“There’s no doubt he was hurt, and a little bit angry but anybody would be considering all the circumstances,” San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of DeRozan’s reaction to a seismic NBA trade last July. “He got over it the way each of us has to get over whatever might happen in our lives. Nobody walks through this life with no negative things happening to them.
“He understands that as well as anybody .We talked about it for sure, but he handled it pretty much on his own because he is so mature already.”
It took getting to San Antonio and experiencing his new home and meeting his new fans and the new team that finally helped him put any hurt feelings aside.
“Once I got here and got a chance to feel the acceptance from the fans, from the organization and just getting comfortable with my teammates,” he said of that moment when basketball got back to normal again for him.
As for finding his role with his new team, well, that took all of a single practice.
“Pop (head coach Gregg Popovich) cussed me out for passing too much,” DeRozan said. “That’s when I realized, all right…”
And it’s been off to the races ever since.
DeRozan leads the Spurs in points, assists and steals. A bit more than three rebounds a night more and he’d be leading in that category too.
NEED TO KNOW
Red-hot Spurs have won seven of their last 10 … The Raptors have upgraded injured guard Kyle Lowry to doubtful from out, but that certainly doesn’t mean he’s ready to play …Toronto has lost nine straight games in San Antonio …Ex-Raptor Rudy Gay has a sprained left wrist and will likely miss his second straight game, giving Poeltl another start … Toronto’s Norm Powell is averaging 9.4 points per game in his last five games.