CBS says Lowry and CO. could be on the block | Another W in summer league | Draftee shows promise.
For most of that time, the franchise revolved around the DeMar DeRozan-Kyle Lowry axis and ignored some playoff stumbles. It was as prosperous as any NBA franchise can realistically expect: five straight playoff appearances, more wins than any team in the Eastern Conference, all-star appearances and league-wide recognition.
And then for one magical year, it was Kawhi Leonard front and centre – with ample support – and a championship.
With Leonard gone and DeRozan two years removed, reality is about to change, but how?
Who will be the face of the Raptors from here?
Sure, Lowry will always be in the picture given his tenure and accomplishments, but as a 33-year-old pending free agent heading into the 2019-20 season on a team in transition, it would be hard for Lowry to assume the role, even if he wanted it.
Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol aren’t really the anchor-type tenants a team would look to build around at this stage of their careers, and they are also pending free agents.
Fred VanVleet is such a good spokesman with such a worthy backstory – from undrafted free agent to championship team catalyst – that he will always have a role as the conscience of almost any team he’s on.
But VanVleet’s also heading into the final year of his deal and may be one of the Raptors’ most useful trade assets given teams seeking his ballhandling and shooting abilities would only have to take on a $9-million expiring contract.
Just ran into Raptors Coach Nick Nurse at Summer League – he told me he was watching a Prince impersonator at the Tropicana when the text came in about Kawhi choosing the Clippers. He said he read it, shrugged and figured he might as well stay & enjoy the rest of the show.
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) July 10, 2019
Raptors: Dewan Hernandez – 18 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist
Pacers: Aaron Holiday – 23 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Raptors’ second-round draft pick Dewan Hernandez continues to improve with each game in Vegas, getting it done at both ends. The big man showed plenty of promise in the pick-and-roll, with some nice finishes in the paint and around the rim.
Kawhi Leonard’s decision to sign with the Clippers could trigger something of a Toronto teardown. Lowry, Gasol and Ibaka will all be free agents next summer, and unless the Raptors plan on re-signing one or all of them (unlikely given their age), getting something for them now seems like a smart move. A lot of teams would be interested in all three. They are championship players on expiring deals.
As constructed, the Raptors could, under optimal circumstances, end up as high as the 3-seed in the East, but would more likely be outside the top four, and they’re not a championship threat without Leonard. Gasol will be 35 next season. Lowry will be 34. Ibaka will be 30. Is one year of mediocrity more valuable than jump-starting your next era built around Pascal Siakam?
Toronto has been a franchise that has resisted rebuilds in the past. Even when they appeared to have hit their ceiling, the Raptors kept themselves in contention, remained one move away, and trading for Leonard last offseason became that move. The championship gives them some equity. They can play this thing out with house money and remain a good team until the next splash opportunity presents itself. But if they choose to go another way, all three of these guys would be pretty hot commodities on teams who find themselves where the Raptors were last summer — one move from contention.
Through Kawai Leonard’s departure from the team back to sunny Los Angeles to play with the Clippers, and Danny “Money” Green heading to LA to play for the Lakers, the void in my hope for Canadian basketball grew darker by the day.
That was until I was overjoyed to hear that, finally, after being so long overdue, Toronto started looking towards adding a Women’s National Basketball league.
Since the inaugural WNBA season in 1997, the league has expanded to 12 teams that stretch from the West coast to the East coast of United States.
This inaugural season came just two years after the NBA expanded into Canada with their two teams, of which only the Raptors were successful in securing a stable franchise.
I can understand the reluctance of establishing a WNBA within a few years of the establishment of an NBA team. Despite a Canadian inventing the sport, nobody really knew if the Great White North would accept an NBA team or be able to acquire payers willing to play outside of the U.S.
It’s not that after the win we are a basketball-crazed city that makes this so important. It’s that after the closure of the Canadian Women’s Hockey league earlier this year there are very few professional leagues for women in Canada.
In a statement released on July 7, the WNBA Toronto Twitter account said, “Official update: Paperwork will be submitted to the WNBA this summer right in time for the Spring 2020 inaugural season tip-off.”
“I think all of it was a shock to me,” Green said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “Except not as much of a shock Kawhi going to L.A. The Clippers, anyway. I didn’t see him coming this route [to the Lakers].
“I feel like he wanted to go his own route. I think it was between them and going back (to Toronto). I think the year that he had and what those fans brought this season and everything, it was hard for him to turn it down and leave Toronto. But I knew he wanted to be closer to home.”
Lin played for the Hornets back during the 2015-16 NBA season. It was a big thing back then since he was struggling to find a new home. He had just wrapped up his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers, a stop that was not spared from controversy. He was signed to a two-year $4.3 million deal at the time, NBA.com reported. He would exercise his player option the following year and eventually join the Brooklyn Nets.
While in Charlotte, there was no doubt that Lin proved to be a spark under the watch of head coach Steve Clifford. He did his part in helping the Hornets reach the NBA playoffs that year, although they bowed to the Miami Heat in the first round. That performance rewarded him with a three-year $36 million deal with the Nets, but injuries kept him from replicating his brilliance with the Hornets. He was eventually traded to the Atlanta Hawks before getting waived and then picked up by the Raptors, according to another report from NBA.com.
Lin is now in search of a new team although no NBA squad has officially expressed interest in the 30-year-old guard. With Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb out of the picture, a return to the Charlotte Hornets could make sense. Linsanity has been known to thrive well on the open court and his style of play could be fit to Borrego’s system of a faster style of play. The fact that Lin can hit it from outside and drive hard to basket loom as bonuses should a return be in order.
The Toronto Raptors relied on a well-rounded attack to earn their second victory of Summer League, beating the Indiana Pacers 94-79 on Thursday afternoon at the Cox Pavilion. Second round draft pick Dewan Hernandez led the team with a game-high 18 points, his most impressive performance in Las Vegas so far.
“He just keeps getting better at our base concepts. He just seems like he is a quick study, he is picking up the stuff we are throwing at him,” said head coach John Goodwillie. “Tonight he was at the 4 a lot more than in previous games and he was switching onto guy and doing a nice job on those switches, and still impacting the game on the rebounding.”
The Raptors rolled out a new starting lineup, giving Richard Solomon his first start of Summer League in place of the resting Chris Boucher while Darius Thompson also earned his first start. The new unit looked stagnant to open proceedings until a few quality Malcolm Miller relocation threes kicked them into gear. Thompson then began to slip into his role well as a secondary ball handler and off-ball shooting threat.
Newest Raptors signing Terence Davis, fresh off of a flight from Toronto after completing his medical, made his debut to open the second quarter. His opening sequences could not have gone much better, nailing a pull-up triple and then tossing an alley-oop lob to Hernandez. He then quickly followed that up with a putback on the offensive glass and a blow-by dunk. Davis’ presence sparked some life into the team as Toronto headed into the break down 46-48.
“What impressed me the most was that there wasn’t just one thing that impressed me the most,” Goodwillie said of the team’s newest signing. “He was volunteering to guard some of the better players on the other team. We put him in the zone and he seemed to figure that out pretty good and he came off guarding the pin-downs pretty well. He got comfortable with our next action concepts on the offensive end. He took the shots when they were there and when they weren’t there he made the next play. He is a bit better ballhandler than I was expecting, so that was a nice surprise.”
The bricks came soon enough, though: the Pacers started 5-for-7, but then went on a 1-for-12 cold streak. Unfortunately, the Raptors couldn’t capitalize, and some sloppy play — leading to some silly fouls — helped Indiana stay in front at the end of the first, 22-20.
It was Terence Davis time as the second quarter started. He played aggressive D on the Pacers’ first possession, and proceeded to drop a three-ball and dish an alley-oop to Hernandez on the Raptors’ first two trips to put them on top, 25-24.
As for Hernandez, I’ll admit, off the tip I thought he looked a little slow-footed, but he showed solid ball-handling and some inside moves on three straight scores in the second quarter that made me reassess. He’s got skill, and size, and while he may not make an impact on the big squad this season, I suspect he’ll have a good Raptors 905 season.
Unfortunately fouls continued to cost Toronto throughout the half; the Raptors were slow in transition and on their rotations, and found themselves forced to hack to slow the Pacers down — and that free throw advantage kept the Pacers ahead, 48-46 at halftime.
Hernandez started the third off with a nice push shot off the glass, and had a lovely putback a couple plays later. He can score! He’s slithery around the hoop; like a bulkier Pascal Siakam. He showed some awareness on D, too, moving well in space and dropping back on pick-and-rolls.
The Pacers dropped their fourth straight game to open Summer League play in Las Vegas, falling 94-79 to the Toronto Raptors.
Aaron Holiday led all scorers with 23 points and added four rebounds and three assists. Brian Bowen II (17 points, seven rebounds) and Alize Johnson (12 points, nine rebounds, five assists) joined Holiday in double-figures for Indiana.
The Raptors featured a balanced attack with four players reaching double-figures, led by Dewan Hernandez with 18 points and eight rebounds. Malcolm Miller shot 4-of-7 from deep and finished with 16 points for Toronto.
After dropping their first three games of Summer League in tough fashion, the Pacers came out firing to start off against the defending NBA champions.
Indiana went 5-of-7 from the floor to start the game, aided by Holiday and Bowen II, who both missed Tuesday’s game with injuries, as they returned to the court and got things going for the Blue & Gold in the opening quarter.
Holiday hit a pull-up 3-pointer from the top of the key to tip off the scoring for Indiana.
After a three by Indiana’s Jaylen Johnson, Bowen II scored the Pacers’ next nine points to give Indiana an early 14-8 lead.
Bowen II drained corner threes on consecutive possessions (both assisted by Alize Johnson) and converted a smooth reverse layup for an and-one.
Toronto made a 10-4 run to tie things up at 18, but the Pacers ended up leading 22-20 after one quarter thanks to a pair of free throws each from Holiday and Shizz Alston.
Raptors’ short-term future
APPRECIATE: Ujiri making it sound Tuesday as if the Raptors won’t be sellers just yet. I’ve been fairly skeptical about the market for Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka anyway, at least if the Raptors won’t eat bad money, and so I’m fine with a run-it-back approach that waits for a better trade market to materialize in-season. The Raptors probably couldn’t get bad enough quickly enough to get into the lottery.
LIKE: Going for upside with defensive-minded forwards. It’s not just that the Raptors grabbed a couple of the top targets I’d listed for the lower tiers they’d be shopping in for free agency, it’s that there’s a clear edict on two fronts: The Raptors want to be a very good defence again, and they believe they can better develop offensive skill than natural defensive intensity and acumen. The latter is something we’ll find out and don’t really get a control group for, but it’s something they’ve long shown to believe with their drafting and tryout-player selection. With versatile defensive wings at such a premium around the league, it makes sense to try to hit big with one of those in a transition year rather than getting lower-ceiling retreads or offensive-minded projects.
This upcoming season should be a bridge year. As currently constructed, the Raptors will remain competitive. Not unlike last year, they’ll tinker and experiment, this time with more of an emphasis on the future, but they’re talented enough to exceed expectations and win a lot of games in a wide-open Eastern Conference.
As of Thursday, most betting sites had the Raptors’ over-under set at 43.5 wins. Assuming good health and barring a roster overhaul, it’s hard to see them falling short of that number.
What’s lost in the narrative, as Raptors fans mourn Leonard’s departure and casual fans jump off the bandwagon, is that the team’s plan – both in the short-term and long-term – isn’t much different than it would have been prior to last summer’s blockbuster trade.
Are they worse off? If so, it’s not by much.
The DeRozan and Kyle Lowry-led Raptors won at least 48 games and qualified for the playoffs in five straight seasons. They won 59 games and finished first in the East in 2017-18.
That team had DeRozan – their leading scorer and all-star. This team has a much-improved Siakam – a player on an all-star trajectory. He probably won’t score as much as DeRozan did, but given his all-around skill set, versatility and upside, you can make a compelling argument that he might be – and maybe already is – more valuable than DeRozan.
That team had Lowry at, or close to, his peak. Lowry is a couple years older now, but he’s coming off an excellent postseason and his first NBA championship. He’s going into the final year of his deal with a chance to earn one last big contract, so he shouldn’t be lacking for motivation.
Danny Green just told reporters on a conference call that he believes it was between the Clippers and Raptors for Kawhi Leonard.
— Bill Oram (@billoram) July 11, 2019
Following the ground-breaking Raptors NBA season, during which they were crowned champions for the first time in their history, the City of Toronto and Canada are keen to keep the celebrations alive. To this end, the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto has announced an exhibition called ‘Behind the Scenes,’ a section of which will be dedicated to the Raptors game-worn sneakers.
A collection of the sneakers belonging to the members of the 2018-2019 Raptors team will be on display from Thursday, July 11 on the main floor of the museum. The sneakers on loan to the Bata Shoe Museum include those worn by Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Norman Powell, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, all during the 2019 NBA playoffs.
If this wasn’t enough to satisfy Raptors fans, the museum’s collection also features a pair of sneakers owned by rapper and Raptors Global Ambassador, Drake.
The collection will remain on display until just before the beginning of the 2019/2020 NBA season. Attendees can take in the sights, and maybe even the smells, of the Raptors shoes until September 18, 2019.
The backstory: Johnson, who is originally from California, and later played for the New Orleans Pelicans and Detroit Pistons, joined Toronto the day Kawhi said goodbye. Many casual fans probably have no idea who he is—but at least he was affordable. The 23-year-old was signed to a cheap (in NBA terms, at least) contract of two years and $7.5 million. It’s a low-risk signing. We might look back a year from now and see the Johnson deal as a bargain.
What he brings to the team: Last season, according to ESPN, Johnson ranked 11th in the NBA in Real Plus-Minus, a kind of statistical measurement of how much a player contributes to a team’s offence and defence.
Fun fact: Johnson’s mom, Karen Taylor, was his mentor: she played basketball for Jackson State University and was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame. She died in 2015.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) July 11, 2019
The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have signed guard Terence Davis. Per team policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Davis, 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, averaged 12.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.2 steals and 24.3 minutes in 121 career games (82 starts) during four seasons at Ole Miss (2015-19). He shot .445 (549-1,234) from the floor, including .339 (176-519) from three-point territory. Davis left the Rebels ranked seventh in school history in three-point field goals (176), 10th in steals (140) and 12th in points scored (1,512).
A native of Southaven, Mississippi, Davis was selected Second Team All-SEC as a senior, averaging 15.2 points (10th in SEC), 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.6 steals and 31.0 minutes in 33 games (32 starts). He shot .444 (179-403) from the floor and .371 (65-175) from beyond the arc. Davis scored in dou
The case of a Toronto Raptors fan accused of making a vulgar comment about the wife of NBA star Stephen Curry on live television has been put over to next month.
Toronto police say 28-year-old Tristan Warkentin of Toronto faces a charge of mischief by interfering with the lawful operation of property.
The incident occurred after Game 2 of the NBA Finals between the Raptors and Golden State Warriors on June 2.
Police allege Warkentin referenced Ayesha Curry and used what they call “profane phrases” in an interview with a TV reporter.
Curry, who grew up in Markham, Ont., is an actress, celebrity cook, cookbook author and television personality.
Warkentin did not appear in court Thursday and the case continues Aug. 8