Morning Coffee – Mon, Jul 8

The fringe free agents keep on coming.

The fringe free agents keep on coming.

Kawhi’s silence was golden for making a deal without making enemies – The Globe and Mail

This is what happens when you don’t talk. At best, people think you’re contented. At worst, they think you’re simple. Either is a good position from which to strike.

You aren’t taking the man’s name in vain if you point out that the manner in which Mr. Leonard handled all this was not exactly cricket. No one seems to have fully understood what he was up to, except for the people he wanted to understand. That left other teams – such as the Raptors and Lakers – trying to guess what he wanted and give it to him.

But it seems clear that Mr. Leonard’s focus all along was on going home, and preferably to the Clippers. Those are the reported words he used in a text to Raptors coach Nick Nurse: “I’m going home.”

If that was the primary consideration, Toronto never had a shot. All the assumptions we’d made – that he’d stay for a winner, or if the medical care was good enough, or if someone could find a way to tunnel from his home to the arena so that he didn’t have to go outdoors in winter – were wrong. He never disabused us of any of them.

Mr. Leonard’s brilliance wasn’t in playing it tight, but in never remotely hinting at what he was up to.

Under usual circumstances, all this conniving would make people angry. But they aren’t.

Instead, people are pleased to see Mr. Leonard pleased. Most of the coverage has focused on what he gave the country – two great months – rather than the fact that he’s just buried the Raptors under 10 feet of mediocrity. It would have been just as easy for this to go the other way.

Toronto Raptors: 5 possible next steps after losing Kawhi Leonard

2. Continue developing Chris Boucher
Chris Boucher only played four minutes in the Raptors’ run to the NBA Finals, but in those four minutes he did not disappoint. Recording a rebound, a block and five points in his limited action, Boucher whet the palette of Raptors fans everywhere. Standing at 6’10” but only listed by ESPN at 200 lbs, Boucher needs to put on muscle to progress in this league. Still, he is a fearless shooter and has the length required to be a force at the defensive end. The prospect of having a Canadian star playing for the Raptors also has to be one that excites both the MLSE brass and the marketing team, so look for Chris Boucher to come into his own in 2020.

Report: Raptors agree to contract with undrafted guard Terence Davis –

Davis, 22, is a six-foot-five, 192 pound shooting guard who just completed his senior season at the University of Mississippi. He was passed over in the draft but was at Summer League with the Denver Nuggets before agreeing to join the Raptors.

Last season Davis averaged 15.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 37 per cent from three point range.

Davis is the third player to reportedly agree to terms with the Raptors since Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green left the team in free agency late Friday night. Earlier on Sunday, the team agreed to a one-year contract with forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson while on Saturday the Raptors agreed to a two-year contract with forward Stanley Johnson.

Summer Standouts, Day 6 |

Terence Davis, Denver Nuggets

Davis was red hot against the Orlando Magic, shooting 8-for-13 overall as part of a night in which he was red-hot from deep (5-for-7 on 3-pointers). He also added five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block. The day got even better for Davis as he reportedly signed a two-year deal with the Raptors.

NBA Power Rankings: Who has taken over the top spot following the biggest free agency moves? | Canada | The official site of the NBA

13. Toronto Raptors

The defending NBA champions took a big hit with the losses of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, but they still have the majority of their title team returning. Pascal Siakam should be ready to take a massive leap as the team’s go-to guy and premier scorer while Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet will continue to keep this team competitive.

If they could see growth from players like Norman Powell and OG Anunoby, the Raptors will have no issue to threaten teams in the playoffs.

Ka’wine and Dine may not have swayed the Raptors star, but Toronto businesses still say it was a success | The Star

Most restaurateurs the Star spoke to acknowledged that Leonard, already a multimillionaire, was unlikely to get swayed in his decision by a bunch of free food. But that wasn’t really the point, said Zarar Siddiqi, co-founder of the Raptors fan blog Raptors Republic, which started the Ka’wine and Dine campaign.

It was more about creating a community and capturing a moment, he said, giving Raptors fans a way to wink at each other in their daily lives, even if they weren’t wearing a jersey.

“The campaign was first and foremost about the fans showing their appreciation for Kawhi Leonard and the season the Raptors had. It was about rallying the city together, forming a sense of community and getting behind something. It was a great success,” said Siddiqi.

“All we wanted was Kawhi to notice that the city loved him.”

Raptors Republic, one of the most popular fan blogs for Raptors fans, has been organizing basketball tournaments and watch parties for years, but this was their first foray into a citywide campaign, and it blew up in a way they hadn’t anticipated.

“This spring, we saw people who had never watched basketball, never followed the game, watch the eastern finals and the NBA finals — and they were nervous. Every possession, they were living and dying even though they had never heard of any of the guys,” he said.

“The city came together. You couldn’t go to work without talking about the Raptors; you couldn’t eat at a restaurant without talking about the Raptors.”

Siddiqi says the championship run has created thousands of new Raptors fans and many of them will be hooked for life.

Looking forward, the future’s still bright for the Raptors, said Siddiqi, and Raptors Republic will be ready with the next campaign, though he can’t say what it will be.

“These kinds of things are context-specific. You can’t plan for them. You just have to feel the atmosphere. It all depends on what happens on the court.”

Dallas Mavericks trade future picks for guard, Delon Wright

The Dallas Mavericks have (unofficially) acquired point guard, Delon Wright, from the Memphis Grizzlies in a sign-and-trade, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The deal will have the Mavs send two second-round picks to the Grizzlies in exchange for Wright.

The Mavs will reportedly be getting Wright on a three year, $29 million contract, averaging just under $9 million per year. Wright is 27 years old and just coming off the best stretch of basketball of his career where he averaged 12.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game in 26 games with the Memphis Grizzlies.

This is an interesting deal for the Mavs who are clearly very convinced that Wright can continue his hot play into this season. Wright comes to Dallas as a strong defensive guard and playmaker, but with a big question mark next to his shooting ability.

Truthfully, the Mavericks interest in Wright likely stems from his back-to-back triple-doubles against the Mavs at the end of last season. Seeing a guy that is capable of doing everything is something that always seems to interest the Mavs and that fits with Wright.

Toronto Raptors bid fond farewells to Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green after weekend of free agency deals – The Globe and Mail

The four-team trade that sent Butler to the Heat — with a new US$142-million, four-year contract — was one of the first big moves to get done once the league’s off-season moratorium ended. But many of the other massive moves, such as Leonard’s signing with the Los Angeles Clippers and the trade to have Paul George join him, remained in the paperwork stage.

Butler acknowledged that his long-time friend, fellow former Marquette star and now-retired Heat guard Dwyane Wade “may have had a little bit of something to do with” his move to Miami.

“I don’t think anybody can take over the role that Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr. had for this organization and for the game of basketball here,” Butler said when asked about taking over as a leader in Miami. “I’m just fortunate and blessed enough to be able to call him a friend, mentor, role model. He’s done so much for me.”

There was no real worry about pending transactions around the league: Some deals, including a few that got agreed upon very quickly when the negotiating window opened on June 30, simply needed to be slotted in a certain order to make the NBA’s money rules work. Others could get done as soon as the NBA said the new league year was officially underway at 12:01 p.m. Eastern on Saturday.

“I think it’s going to be a really exciting season,” said Portland’s Damian Lillard, who wasn’t a free agent and won’t be for a long time after signing a US$196-million, four-year extension that could keep him with the Trail Blazers until 2025. “Obviously, it’s exciting to see players change teams. You know people love that.”

The NBA pre-season starts in October but the summertime void can be filled by the Premier league and other European soccer leagues, especially as Look for Raptors Republic’s podcast hosted by Samson Folk later this month where we compare and contrast the NBA to the Premier League.

Fans in Canada and abroad mourn and reflect as Kawhi Leonard leaves the Raptors | National Post

Though his jersey may have said Toronto, Raptors fans across the country — and beyond — are in mourning after star player Kawhi Leonard opted to leave Canada’s only NBA team.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP, who joined Toronto’s team just a year ago when he was traded by the San Antonio Spurs, has reportedly signed with the LA Clippers after carrying the Raptors to the NBA Championship for the first time in franchise history last month.

William Om, a 27-year-old Raptors fan from Montreal, said it’s painful to see an elite player come to Canada only to leave after such a brief period.

“It hurts everybody, because of course we want to keep the best players,” he said in a phone interview.

But he said Leonard has won over his allegiance, regardless of where he takes his talents. In fact, Om said he’s already ordered a Clippers jersey with Leonard’s name on the back.

“What happened in Toronto, the way he played and everything, made me admire him a little more,” he said. “No matter where he goes I’ll support him as a Clipper.”

NBA Free Agency 2019: Fast facts on Raptors reported free agent acquisition Rondae Hollis-Jefferson | Canada | The official site of the NBA

Hollis-Jefferson gives the Raptors another wing defender that can be used to guard just about any position.

He won’t have to worry about scoring the ball on this team and he’ll be a great player to give Pascal Siakam a blow in his first season as the go-to guy in Toronto.

He can play both the 3 and the 4, so RHJ should be useful as a flexible backup who can take on almost any defensive assignment. Nick Nurse should have some fun rotating Hollis-Jefferson in the mix when the Raptors need to defend big, strong and quick offensive forces like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Ben Simmons.

Kawhi heads to L.A. to take on the King and his court

You could also shudder at the rebirth of the big-market NBA. You could groan about how, with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving choosing New York City, albeit the Brooklyn option, and with Leonard choosing L.A., the league’s mid- to small-market clubs continue to compete in a game rigged against them. A summer after LeBron James ditched Cleveland for power lunches in Hollywood, we’ve seen Anthony Davis and Paul George force their way out of New Orleans and Oklahoma City, respectively, pulled by the gravity of glamour. But hey, the rich get richer. And Clippers owner Steve Ballmer, he of the Microsoft fortune estimated in the neighbourhood of $50 billion, is only the wealthiest in all of North American pro sports.

Or you could complain, if you’re so inclined, about how tampering is the NBA’s uncurable epidemic. It was only back in April that Doc Rivers, the Clippers coach, took a $50,000 fine for fawningly comparing Leonard to Michael Jordan on an NBA playoff preview TV panel. As one NBA lifer said at the time: In pursuit of the most coveted free-agent target of the season, the Clippers didn’t see that kind of league-imposed discipline as a penalty so much as a savvy investment, just another in a year-long line of gestures that let Leonard know he was always No. 1 on their list all along. And given it worked out so well for them — well, don’t expect this kind of thing to stop with the next sternly worded email from commissioner Adam Silver. The backrooms, in sports and in life, are tough to govern, especially in a league where, as much as the coaches and executives tug various levers, the stars recruit the stars.

Still, if you loved Leonard when he was coolly annihilating opponents on Toronto’s behalf during an unforgettable run to a franchise’s first championship, it was tough not to respect the brazenness of a move that was so league-shaking it was preluded by a pair of West Coast earthquakes. And you had to especially love who Leonard spurned to make it happen — not only Toronto, but the man who used to annually reduce this town to his personal LeBronto.

James, after all, hasn’t only spent the past decade-plus carving out a reputation as the game’s greatest active practitioner and crusher of GTA-based dreams. He has also styled himself as an off-court chess wizard, a mover of pieces who lines up teams as he and his management group commandeer franchises.

On that latter front, Leonard just matched him. Make no mistake: Leonard choosing the Clippers over James’ Lakers was the transactional equivalent of staring down LeBron while flipping him LeBird. It was the artist now formerly known as the King of the North rolling his army into King James’s castle and making a stone-faced claim to the throne.