Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee – Mon, Feb 11

Raptors win over Knicks gives a glimpse of what’s to come with Gasol | Toronto Sun

“The play-making ability, the big body, the defensive mindset, the defensive ability,” Lowry said listing off his favourite Gasol attributes. “Marc’s an all-NBA defender; he can do everything.

“He knows what he’s doing,” Lowry continued. “He’s not going to be overly aggressive, he’s not under-aggressive, it’s just right. It’s all a feel thing for him.”

Gasol has that ability to guard his man and still jump over and help as the ball comes towards the basket. It’s a timing thing. Go too early and the ball finds its’ way to the cover he just left. Go too late and it’s likely a trip to the free throw line or worse an And-1. Gasol, though years of experience moves at just the right time. It doesn’t hurt that he stretches to 7-foot-1 and has the bulk to hold his ground even against opponents coming downhill.
His soft hands and deft touch around the basket weren’t on display quite so much Saturday, it being six days since he last played, but he possesses both as well as an ability to anticipate plays before they happen and a court vision that allows him to see would be passing targets that others don’t.

He’s going to need some time to learn the Raptors offence, their tendencies and plenty of other things, but those with experience with him say this will not be a long process.

Head coach Nick Nurse and his staff have 24 games to get Gasol and whoever arrives via the buyout market comfortable and Nurse does not foresee any problems with that kind of timeline.

“I don’t think we have to hurry up anything,” Nurse said. “But I think as you guys know I’m fairly experimental. I probably will continue to experiment in a little quicker mode right now. I want to see what certain coverages look like, I want to see what the blitzing looks like, I want to see what his low-post defence looks like, I want to see maybe what the zone looks like a little bit more ‘cause I could see us maybe using that, and then I want to add some things offensively that I think fit him and will really add a big plus to our offense. I think he can get us going downhill more because he can relieve some pressure, but I don’t know that for sure yet.”

Marc Gasol fits in with Raptors like a pro, even as the pronouns give him trouble | The Star

Gasol might be a bit taken aback — he is, after all, replacing a big-time favourite in Jonas Valanciunas — but he will not be entirely surprised.

There was something about hearing a loud chorus of “Let’s go, Raptors” in Madison Square Garden on Saturday that would have prepared him for what’s to come. Those cheers caught him off guard.

“How many fans from the Raptors in the stands,” Gasol said Saturday, when asked what surprised him a 104-99 win over the Knicks. “Memphis fans? We get some fans (on the road) but not as many as you guys, or us, now.”

One can forgive Gasol the momentary lapse in pronoun usage; he had spent his entire 11-year NBA career with the Grizzlies before Thursday’s trade to Toronto and he’ll probably mess up the “we” and “us” more than a couple of times in the first week or so.

What he won’t mess up is the renewed feeling of purpose he has with a team legitimately hunting an NBA championship.

He was beloved in Memphis — the Grizzlies have already said they’ll retire his No. 33 some day — but his championship chances were nil this season.

He is reinvigorated with Toronto, playing for a team that has a 41-16 record, third best in the league, a game out of first in the East, and with a healthy roster ready for a 25-game sprint to the playoffs.

“Yeah, the energy you feel around this team is great and everyone talks about the same thing,” Gasol said after his six-point, seven-rebound, 19-minute debut against the Knicks.

Monday NBA game preview: Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors | The Star

The Raptors got a little closer to filling out their roster, giving full NBA contracts to centre Chris Boucher and forward Malcolm Miller. Boucher had been on a two-way contract, splitting time with the G League 905 and the big club. Miller, who was on a two-way deal last season, was sidelined earlier this season by a torn labrum and has played just six games with the 905 … Brooklyn’s Joe Harris and Toronto’s Danny Green will compete against each other on Saturday in the three-point shooting contest as part of all-star weekend … The Nets got key part Caris LaVert back from injury last Friday and he’ll surely boost their playoff hopes … Toronto has won its past seven home games against the Nets … Brooklyn is fifth in the league in three-pointers made per game, averaging 12.3 each night.

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Raptors Sign Chris Boucher To NBA Contract | Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors announced Sunday they have signed forward Chris Boucher to a standard NBA contract. Boucher signed a two-way player contract with the club Oct. 12, 2018. Per team policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Boucher, 6-foot-10, 200 pounds, is averaging 3.9 points, 1.8 rebounds and 5.6 minutes in 16 games with the Raptors this season. He scored a career-high nine points in nine minutes of action Dec. 28 at Orlando. 

In 23 games with Raptors 905 of the NBA G League, Boucher is posting averages of 27.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 33.5 minutes. He has scored 30 or more points nine times, including a 47-point performance Dec. 12 vs. Oklahoma City, and recorded 14 double-doubles. Boucher averaged 29.6 points and 12.1 rebounds in nine games in November and was named G League Player of the Month.

A product of Oregon in his second season, Boucher spent 2017-18 with the Golden State Warriors as a two-way player. He appeared in one game with the Warriors and averaged 11.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 22.2 minutes in 20 games for the Santa Cruz Warriors, their NBA G League affiliate.

Raptors Former Player Jonas Valančiūnas Caught Leaving Toronto Airport And He Actually Looks So Sad – Narcity

“I think as you guys know I’m fairly experimental,” he said before Saturday night’s game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, a 104-99 win for the visitors. “I probably will continue to experiment, in a little quicker mode, right now.”

The reason that Nurse is back in his happy place is, naturally, because the Raptors have added 7-foot-1 Spaniard Marc Gasol, at the cost of three regular members of the Toronto rotation. The Raptors were set to have their full complement of players back in the lineup for just the second time since October in Atlanta on Thursday when the Gasol trade went down a few hours before tipoff and put an end to that idea. It’s almost as though the Raptors made their big move just so Nurse could start messing around again. Almost.

Raptors Blog: Gasol opens up so many possibilities for the Raptors | National Post

In Lowry and Gasol, Toronto now boasts two of the highest offensive basketball IQ players in the NBA. Throw in Leonard and on defence they have three of the players with the highest defensive IQ in the league too. And Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Danny Green are no slouches there, either. Green snuck in for another blocked shot and is tied for second in blocks amongst guards.

Five Raptors had at least three assists and the team assisted on 27 of its 33 buckets. Though Gasol only had one helper (and one secondary assist) he was whizzing it around, with as many passes in his 19 minutes as Ibaka had in 10 more.

It’s not easy to win when you shoot 31.6% on uncontested shots, but the Raptors managed to do so. The assist numbers would have been even higher had they converted at a normal rate.

The Knicks didn’t look like a team that had lost 15 straight and was all-in on the Zion Williamson sweepstakes early on. DeAndre Jordan was all over the place, looking like the Lob City version of himself and not the going through the motions in Dallas version we’d seen only a couple of weeks ago. Dennis Smith Jr. also impressed and definitely has some chemistry with his new/old teammate Jordan.

New York actually has some intriguing young pieces for the first time in a while. Kevin Knox can really shoot it and their bargain bin findings are talented. Should the Knicks add Kevin Durant and someone else this summer, and the Atlantic is suddenly very interesting, without a single weak link (unless the darkest timeline Raptors lose Kawhi and Gasol and deal away Lowry and Ibaka, sorry for the visual).

Does the Raptors’ roster have the makings of a championship team? – Raptors HQ

Throughout the history of the NBA and ABA, there has been a simple equation to winning a championship. It starts with coaching — a coach must be able to learn on the fly, motivate his players and know his team’s strengths and deficiencies. There are also the great players. Sometimes they score the points, other times they are simply the leader, coach, rebounding champion, pioneer type (looking at you, Bill Russell). Other than having a great coach or scoring tons of points, there are plenty of other roles needed to win a championship.

Today you’ll be reading the outline of what makes a championship team — outside of great coaching and star players; the roles, the archetypes, and of course, the mettle. Looking back at past champions, you’ll see most of these types on every team. The players of these roles were the best at their craft, and collectively, it made them the best in the league.

The Pest
Danny Ainge. Matthew Dellavedova. Mario Chalmers. Bruce Bowen.

The pest has one role: get under the skin of the opposing star. They sacrifice points and stats for glory. They are the unheralded stars that become adjacent to the names of legends. Jawing at someone on a hot streak to try to throw them off their game is a classic pest move.

There’s a better way to describe them: you hate them until they’re on your team.

Scott Stinson: Nurse’s long-running Raptors experiment continues, but Gasol looking to have a quick impact | National Post

The Raptors do not hate consistency in their lineups. But it was never a big part of their plan. With a bunch of new faces on the roster after the summer blockbuster, head coach Nick Nurse said he planned to juggle starters and use various permutations of Toronto’s assortment of rangy wing players. In pre-season, the coach said he thought it might take 40 or 50 games to get a sense of what combinations he liked most.

He never did figure it out, due in large part to the fact that the Raptors played exactly one game with everyone healthy.

And then the team made it to Game 57, and now they are starting all over again. Just the way Nurse likes it.

“I think as you guys know I’m fairly experimental,” he said before Saturday night’s game against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, a 104-99 win for the visitors. “I probably will continue to experiment, in a little quicker mode, right now.”

The reason that Nurse is back in his happy place is, naturally, because the Raptors have added 7-foot-1 Spaniard Marc Gasol, at the cost of three regular members of the Toronto rotation. The Raptors were set to have their full complement of players back in the lineup for just the second time since October in Atlanta on Thursday when the Gasol trade went down a few hours before tipoff and put an end to that idea. It’s almost as though the Raptors made their big move just so Nurse could start messing around again. Almost.

The Malcolm Miller Rule? Why the Raptors’ 10-day deals are now on hold – The Athletic

Miller was not in the lineup Saturday, nor has his 10-day contract been processed. The explanation is a little messy and almost without precedent.

The CBA does not allow teams to sign players to 10-day contracts unless they already have 12 full-season contracts on the books. (Jeff Siegel of the excellent site Early Bird Rights first pointed this out on Twitter.) That is, because the Raptors only have 10 players right now, they are ineligible to sign 10-day contracts. The CBA explains this in a somewhat roundabout way, but to simplify: You have to have 12 players under regular NBA contracts, excluding 10-days and two-ways.

That this wasn’t immediately obvious is because there are so few examples of a team being below the roster minimum, especially to this extreme a level. In fact, while the CBA lays out contingencies and hardship exemptions for when teams need to temporarily add too many players, there is no language for if a team violates the minimum requirements.

The CBA’s assumption appears to be that the league just wouldn’t let something like that happen. It’s a little surprising, in retrospect, that the league allowed the Raptors to make all three trades at the deadline without a subsequent move lined up to meet the requirements. It’s a technicality, but the trade being finalized Saturday is retroactive to Thursday’s deadline. So in paperwork terms, the Raptors have already been in violation of the minimum roster for several days now. Because there’s no language to this situation in the CBA, it’s unclear if the league is being understanding and giving the Raptors a grace period given the unique situation (something not afforded to teams over the roster requirement at the deadline) or if any signings they make will have to be made retroactive to Feb. 8.

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