Take the money and run.
Knicks restricted free agent Landry Fields would’ve been a logical part of a sign-and-trade. To preempt that and maximize its chances of landing Nash, Toronto – through agent Chris Emens – offered Fields a three-year, $18.75 million contract.
“Wait, did you say eight or 18?” Fields remembers asking.
Emens had said 18. The Raptors were submitting an offer sheet for three years and $18.8 million.
“That number was way beyond what we would have thought would be a home run for me in free agency,” Fields said. “Eight would have been like, ‘OK, cool. I’m good.’ But that, for me, was an absolute home run.”
Nearly two decades later, Vince Carter says he wouldn’t change a thing about his decision to attend his graduation ceremony at North Carolina on the morning of what was then the most important game in Toronto Raptors history.
“I was once in your position, excited about the opportunity to graduate and receive my diploma – but I was also playing in the biggest basketball game of my professional career as well,” the retiring veteran told graduates of historically black colleges and universities in an address posted by the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday. “And by the way: They were both on the same day.”
“It was a taxing day for me, but I was able to accomplish both goals,” Carter said. “And I would do it again if I had to.”
Carter, 43, holds the record for most seasons played in NBA history (22). He also has a degree in African-American Studies from the University of North Carolina.
Houston Rockets, May 18 — It was announced by GM Daryl Morey on Saturday that the Rockets will re-open facilities on Monday.
Los Angeles Lakers, May 16 — The Lakers re-opened things on Saturday and had several players back at practice, though those names weren’t reported.
Orlando Magic, May 14 — The Magic opened up facilities at Amway Center and the players describe it as strange.
Miami Heat, May 13 — The Heat had 12 players in for voluntary workouts last week and used social distancing of course.
Boston Celtics, TBD — Celtics president Danny Ainge announced on May 15 that the team will look to re-open practice this week (May 18-24).
Atlanta Hawks, May 11 — The Hawks re-opened facilities early last week.
Toronto Raptors, May 8 — The Raptors were among the first teams to re-open practice facilities.
Denver Nuggets, May 8 — The Nuggets had initially decided not to re-open, but then Will Barton posted on social media that he has been at the facility getting workouts in last week.
Cleveland Cavaliers, May 8 — The Cavaliers were one of the first teams to open up facilities to players for workouts.
Portland Trail Blazers, May 8 — The Trail Blazers were also in the same boat as the Cavaliers, though there was some backlash from G CJ McCollum after the announcement.
Utah Jazz, May 8 — The Jazz opened up practice for workouts and George Niang was among the players to participate so far.
This offseason, the Knicks will be among teams looking deeply into Giannis Antetokounmpo’s market in free agency following the 2020-21 season. But they might have missed their shot already with arguably the best player in the NBA because of their relationship with his older brother, Thanasis.
Back in 2013, the Knicks drafted Thanasis in the second round with the 51st overall pick. But the elder Antetokounmpo never made a splash in New York, playing only two games (on a 10-day contract) over two years before being released. He would quickly join his brother on the Bucks.
Then, in 2015, Antetokounmpo was vocal about how the Knicks didn’t give his brother a fair chance at making it in the league when the Bucks and Knicks were playing in London. That right there, according to the New York Post’s Marc Berman, could definitely hurt the Knicks chances at signing him.
“I thought he [would] get called up before the game,” he said. “I’m a little disappointed he’s not going to play tomorrow against me.”
The initial thought even this season was that Antetokounmpo would stay with the Bucks. He said so himself, but with a catch: the Bucks needed to remain a title contender.
Milwaukee had the best record in the league when things were suspended for coronavirus (53-12), so this suspension of play without a definitive restart date in sight to vie for the Larry O’Brien Trophy certainly hurts. Winning a title this year would greatly boost Milwaukee’s chances of not losing their franchise player.
Berman’s sources are now telling him “the pandemic has changed things so drastically, it’s hard to pinpoint Antetokounmpo’s future plans.”
The Knicks could help themselves if they drafted Alex Antetokounmpo — the next in the bloodline with NBA aspirations. He’s set to come out of Europe in 2021, so that’s an option to salvage the missed opportunity with Thanasis.
“It could be a little bit of the silver lining of this pandemic,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said on Friday in his first public question-and-answer session since the NBA season was interrupted on March 11, “just the fact that you actually have a chance to get somebody like Ben, and as important as Ben is, back into our team.”
The silver lining goes well beyond Simmons. While it might be a stretch to say that COVID-19 has the potential to save the Sixers season, their path to the Finals looks much more plausible right now than it did before the NBA’s two-month hiatus. That is, there is now at least some plausible reason to believe in all the things you need to talk yourself into in order to believe that they are capable of winning 12 out of 21 games against three of the five teams who are currently ahead of them in the standings.
It starts not with Simmons, but with Brown, who has had nine weeks to watch tape and contemplate changes and discuss with his players and staff the things the Sixers will need to do in order to maximize their talent. How do you coach a basketball team while isolated in a suburban home? You talk with your players and your general manager every day. You hold weekly meetings with your bench staff, and your development staff, and your training staff, and you spend that time identifying what has worked, what hasn’t, and how to optimize that distribution.
“I’m excited, and confident, and comfortable,” Brown said, “like we’re going to hit the ground running.”
You have to think that the Sixers understand the opportunity they suddenly have. Whenever the NBA gives its teams the green light to resume practice, Brown will almost certainly have multiple weeks to coach his team in an environment that is far more controlled than the NBA regular season typically allows. And, really, can there be a better way to evaluate a coach than to give him two months to prepare to face four or five teams and then allow him an additional few weeks of practice to implement his game plan?
February 22, 1996
Toronto acquires center Sharone Wright from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for a pair of power forwards in Tony Massenburg and Ed Pinckney.
Despite making the 1995 All-Rookie team with the 76ers, Wright failed to live up to the hype in Toronto. Wright suffered multiple injuries in an unfortunate car accident and played just over two seasons with the Raptors.
February 20, 1997
The Raptors traded for Milwaukee Bucks guard Shawn Respert, giving up big man Acie Earl in the deal.
Respert played 74 games for the Raptors over the next season and a half averaging 5.5 points in 15.0 minutes per game.
February 22, 2001
The Raptors sent veteran guards Muggsy Bogues and Mark Jackson to the New York Knicks. In return, Toronto acquired point guard Chris Childs and a 2002 first-round pick that was owned by the Seattle Supersonics.
The Raptors also traded for power forward Jerome Williams and center Eric Montross sending Tyrone Corbin, Kornel David, Corliss Williamson and a 2005 first-round pick that was owned by the Orlando Magic in exchange.
February 22, 2007
The Portland Trailblazers sent 28-year-old guard Juan Dixon to the Raptors in exchange for fifth-year wing Fred Jones.
Dixon would play 62 games for Toronto over the next season and a half, averaging 7.1 points per game in 17.9 minutes per contest.
February 21, 2008
Less than a year later, the Raptors sent Dixon to the Detroit Pistons for 7-foot-2 Slovenian center Primož Brezec and cash considerations.
Despite his impressive size, Brezec would last just half a season in Toronto where he only played an average of 8.5 minutes per game.
Justin Barrasso: What we can expect to learn from the players’ perspective in Blackballed?
Matt Barnes: We didn’t stand with Donald, we never played for him to begin with. He just happened to be the owner of the team that put us all together. That was a crazy, uncertain time for us as players, and we were glad that [NBA Commissioner] Adam Silver acted as swiftly as he did.
Barrasso: Sports provide a unique platform to discuss race in America. In the third episode of the Blackballed documentary, you were able to share a part of your life when you were a high school student in Southern California and were judged exclusively by race. How do you describe the feeling of having someone profiling you based solely on skin color?
Barnes: It’s frustrating. Me being someone who grew up bi-racial, being half Italian and black, I faced racism at a very early age. It boiled over in high school, to the point where someone was calling my sister a n—–. We happened to fight right after that, and a day-and-a-half later, the KKK vandalized my whole school. They burned down a bathroom and it made national news. I learned at an early age, even though I was very proud to be mixed, I was looked at as a black man.
I’ve had enough racist events in my life to understand that racism is real and alive, so the stuff with Sterling didn’t surprise me. He was just dumb enough to get caught, but he wasn’t the only one thinking that way at the time or still thinking that way now.
Throughout this pandemic, one thing that has stood out to me is that there is still a lot of hate in this country. I’ve personally lived through a lot of racism, and that’s why I have such a strong opinion and view on it. No one is born racist. People are taught to hate, and it’s unfortunate, but the cycle continues to repeat itself.
“We want to get sports back, we miss sports,” Trump said. “We need sports in terms of the psyche of our country. And that’s what we’re doing.”
On Sunday, at roughly the halfway point of a skins game match involving four of the PGA Tour’s top golfers — Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff — Trump praised NBC for carrying the event, then called for a more robust resumption of activities in all sports.
While Sunday’s golf exhibition was produced by a skeleton television crew and contested without spectators or caddies, the president said he hoped that future events would be teeming with fans.
“We want to get it back to where it was, we want big, big stadiums loaded with people,” Trump said. “We don’t want to have 15,000 people watching Alabama-LSU, as an example.”
In an interview in late April, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the leading public health expert on Trump’s coronavirus task force, said he would not feel comfortable returning to a stadium until the infection rate was lower.
“I would love to be able to have all sports back,” Fauci said. “But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.”
TSN Raptors reporter Josh Lewenberg joins Kate Beirness to go deeper on the first of his three-part Timelines series regarding hypothetical scenarios in how Toronto’s season could end.