It’s the Wiz on a Sunday afternoon.
Patrick McCaw, an unsigned restricted free agent for the Golden State Warriors just before the New Year found himself a free agent on Thursday, January 10th, 2019. Free to sign for the remainder of the season with the Toronto Raptors. Its how he was able to flip his restricted free agent status to an unrestricted free agent that will bring scrutiny from the NBA.
“The NBA will review the Cleveland Cavaliers’ signing and release of forward Patrick McCaw at the request of the Golden State Warriors, according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein.”
Under the terms of the CBA, between the league and the players, a 2nd round draft pick like McCaw was in 2016, becomes a restricted free agent after his second year. The Golden State Warriors with a huge luxury tax bill to pay and concerns about contract negotiations with Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant coming this summer did not make an overwhelming commitment to negotiate with McCaw in the summer of 2018.
Raptors since Valanciunas injury
Since Jonas Valanciunas went down with a left thumb dislocation, the Raptors have gone 10-5. The team has dealt with some other injuries and rest nights here and there, but Toronto has unsurprisingly found ways to win despite not playing as well as head coach Nick Nurse would like. In the 15 games since the injury, the Raptors are only outscoring opponents by 0.2 points per 100 possessions. Toronto is only shooting 33.6% from deep, and the rebounding numbers are obviously down without the team’s dominant big man.
Still, the Raptors have one of the league’s best two-way players in Kawhi Leonard, an All-Star point guard in Kyle Lowry, a rim-protecting shooting big man in Serge Ibaka, versatile two-way players in Danny Green, OG Anunoby, and Fred VanVleet, and swiss-army knife and Most Improved Player candidate Pascal Siakam. Even if their numbers are down, the Raptors are still title contenders. Toronto is one of four teams in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Last one before London
In what is certainly a unique wrinkle to the schedule this season, Wizards will travel to London on Sunday night after the Raptors game. The Wizards and Knicks will represent the NBA abroad this regular season, which will be quite the experience for everybody involved. The game is on Thursday night in London at 8:00 P.M. local time, which will be 3:00 P.M. in D.C. Washington will have some time to adjust to a different time zone and only play one game between January 13 and 20. The Wizards have been home since Wednesday, and will not head back on the road again after London until January 25 in Orlando.
The Raptors have never had an MVP candidate. Chris Bosh came the closest, finishing seventh in voting in 2007. DeMar DeRozan was eighth once. The highest Vince Carter finished was 10th, same as Kyle Lowry. Kawhi Leonard should be Top 5 this season, in a mix that includes James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis. Best player on best team should help Leonard’s cause … The Maple Leafs have not had an MVP in 64 years. That was Ted Kennedy and the award was questioned at the time. Doug Gilmour placed second in Hart Trophy voting in 1993 and fourth in 1994 and Curtis Joseph was fourth in 1999 … Josh Donaldson and George Bell are the only Blue Jays to win MVP awards … In a rather small Canadian Football League, six Argos have won the most outstanding player award. You know the names: Doug Flutie, twice. Pinball Clemons, Condredge Holloway, Chad Owens, Damon Allen and Bill Symons.
The Wizards are on a bit of a roll, having beaten East contenders Milwaukee and Philadelphia in their last two games, but they remain in 10th place in the conference and are only 5-5 in their last 10 games … Tomas Satoransky had the first triple double of his career (18 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists) in a win over the Bucks on Friday night … The Raptors, winners of four in a row, have won their last three meetings against the Wizards … Washington heads to London after the game to face the Knicks in an NBA international game.
News leaked that the Warriors had agreed to terms with free-agent guard Nick Young. Immediately, McCaw’s role was up in the air. Also: the Warriors re-signed Iguodala for three more years.
When training camp opened, coach Steve Kerr, without knowing it, might have made the situation worse by declaring an open competition for the backup shooting guard spot. According to insiders, this was the first grievance McCaw had with the Warriors and it is about the only tangible issue that has been vocalized. McCaw was confident coming in after a good summer. It wasn’t as productive as the summer of 2017, when he played well at Summer League and had a good showing at Tim Grgurich’s camp for young players. But he was healthy again and feeling good. Having to compete for minutes with Young, who came into camp out of shape, seems to have harmed McCaw’s trust in the Warriors.
New to the injury report is guard Fred VanVleet, who is questionable for Sunday afternoon’s game with a left thigh contusion. The 24-year-old recently moved back to bench after starting point guard Kyle Lowry returned to the lineup. In 19 minutes on Friday, VanVleet was effective, chipping in 10 points, two rebounds, six assists, one steal and three three-pointers in a win over the Brooklyn Nets.
The former Wichita State guard has averaged career-bests of 10.5 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in 39 games this season.
The team also announced that shooting guard C.J. Miles is doubtful for Sunday’s contest in Washington with right hip soreness — something that has affected the 31-year-old of late. He’s shooting an abysmal 27.3 per cent from three this year and has recently lost his spot in the rotation with the re-emergence of fourth-year shooting guard Norman Powell.
In a training session that could have most likely been televised, this picture left many questions. How did they all end up training together? What happened during the training?
A man in the picture and who has the answers is Toronto Raptors assistant coach Phil Handy.
“The energy in that workout was unbelievable. And how it all developed was very happenstance,” Handy said about the training that occurred when all three stars just happened to be in Los Angeles. “I just said look, we’re gonna work out at 12 o’clock. Everybody is available, we’ll work out at 12 and everybody will get a workout in.
“Those dudes were so competitive.”
“We’re trying to get those guys to put in a little extra work, pre- and post- practice, and pre-game,” Nurse said. “On game day we’re really trying to get them together a little bit because it looks like that’s the second unit now.”
The bench provided 60 points — two off the season high for the backups — in Friday’s 122-105 rout of the Brooklyn Nets and all five of the key subs tallied 10 or more points.
It was a stellar night that included 22-of-44 shooting from the field, six three-pointers in 15 attempts, 16 rebounds and only two combined turnovers.
The combination of VanVleet and Wright seems to be rounding into the same form that made them so dangerous last season. They had 22 points and eight assists between them but, most important, they were flying around defensively and playing off each other as well as they have at any time this season.
“When it’s clicking, we read each other very well. It’s natural, it’s easy, it’s nothing forced, we just naturally fit each other’s games,” VanVleet said.
Philadelphia 76ers’ Jimmy Butler “still has a desire to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers this offseason,” I’m hearing this afternoon. Butler is “intrigued with possibly teaming up with Kawhi Leonard.” pic.twitter.com/rvEECuAoyp
— Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson (@ScoopB) January 11, 2019
Much has changed since the last meeting between the two teams on Nov. 23, as the Wizards have made a big transaction and dealt with a number of injuries. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers both played significant minutes in the late November meeting but have since been traded in exchange for Trevor Ariza. All-Star guard John Wall has undergone season-ending heel surgery and Marcus Morris, who played nearly 30 minutes in the loss, is out with a neck issue.
Throughout the shuffle, All-Star guard Bradley Beal has been a constant for the Wizards – over the past seven games, Beal is averaging 27.9 points, 5.4 assists and 4.6 rebounds while shooting 47.0 percent from the field and 39.7 percent from 3-point range.
Washington’s recent burst has brought them within two games of Charlotte for the East’s eighth seed with plenty of basketball to play. The team boasts the league’s ninth-best offensive rating since Dec. 29 and is averaging 117.1 points per game on 48.0 percent shooting from the field and 38.5 percent shooting from deep.
Guard Tomas Satoransky has been tabbed to fill in for John Wall and is averaging 12.3 points, 6.1 assists and 5.9 rebounds over this recent stretch. In the Wizards’ win over the Milwaukee Bucks Friday, the 27-year-old recorded the first triple-double of his career with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in 35 minutes of action.
he Wizards know they will have their hands full with him. In his one game against the Wizards this season, Leonard went off for 27 points and 10 rebounds in only 30 minutes of work.
“He’s probably the best two-way player we’ve seen in a long time,” head coach Scott Brooks said.
Leonard, who is 7-1 against the Wizards in his career, is one of the most difficult players to game plan against, according to Brooks. He’s one of the smartest players in the league.
“He’s a very calculated player,” Brooks said. “He’s never rattled. He doesn’t ever seem to be out of his comfort zone. He knows what he’s doing. He has a game plan within their game plan and he executes it. He’s never out of control.”
The Wizards have had trouble with Leonard over the years and this season, but things could be a little different now that they have Trevor Ariza, whom they traded for in December. Ariza stepped right in as arguably their best perimeter defender. It would seem likely he sees some time on Leonard.
Ariza and Leonard have played 18 times in their careers, and Ariza knows his game well.
“He’s relentless at attacking the basket,” Ariza said. “Defensively, he’s obviously very aggressive so you have to be careful with where you place the ball.”
If the Wizards can somehow pull off a win against the Raptors, they will be feeling pretty good about themselves with a trip to to London to play the Knicks up next.