Morning Coffee – Fri, Jul 16

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Cover Photo by Scott Audette/NBAE via Getty Images

2021 NBA free agency: John Hollinger’s Top 20 free agents by BORD$ projections (with formula tweaks!) – The Athletic

4. Kyle Lowry, PG, Raptors: $25,239,628
This is the strongest market ever for former Grizzlies point guards. As with Mike Conley below, age will be a factor: Kyle Lowry is 35, so we’re probably looking at a two-year deal in the $50 million range.

Lowry is an interesting case because it doesn’t make a ton of sense for Toronto to bring him back, and some of his strongest suitors are capped-out teams that would be looking at sign-and-trade possibilities. Philadelphia, most notably, could only acquire Lowry this way, and even at that would have to do some serious cap gymnastics to stay below the tax apron (teams completing a sign-and-trade must remain below the apron all season).

Even the room teams might want to play with the Raptors on a sign-and-trade. Miami, for example, can generate enough cap room to sign him outright for roughly his BORD$ number (the Heat can generate $24 million in room by declining options on Goran Dragic and Andre Iguodala and letting Kendrick Nunn walk) but might be better served operating as an “over-the-cap” team and trading Dragic and Nunn for Lowry in a complex sign-and-trade.

So … expect this to get weird. Lowry will be a popular name but getting him to the most desired landing spots could prove tricky.

Koreen and Hollinger: On Kyle Lowry, the No. 4 pick and Raptors free-agent targets – The Athletic

Here’s the thing about a Siakam deal: He’s probably the one guy who is most on the edge between “present” and “future.” He’s 27 and his contract is probably going to outrun his production over the next three seasons of his deal.

Additionally, while Ujiri hasn’t done a full-blown teardown in either Toronto or Denver, the Raptors weren’t exactly all-in on winning at the end of last season, and the “delayed sign-and-trade” has always been in his playbook. He did a similar maneuver, for instance, with Nene in Denver, after the Nuggets began to have second thoughts about a big extension he’d signed.

Two other elements to consider here: First, the Raptors have always tried to have some kind of Canadian presence on their team, and if Andrew Wiggins came back as the matching salary he would certainly be a large one. Second, if it remains unlikely that the Raptors can be bad enough to move into position for future high lottery picks (short of some extremely strategic late-season “rest” decisions if they find themselves outside the playoffs), then a deal like this is probably their best avenue toward a lottery ticket on a superstar.

Thus, I could see a trade like this as one of the best ways for the Raptors to walk the tightrope between staying reasonably good in the present and still having a chance to do bigger things in the future.

Why the Raptors shouldn’t jump into a trade for Ben Simmons | The Star

What no one has seen is Simmons being able, or willing, to fix it. He is a sublime talent who does so many things so well but you have to ask how fatal the one major flaw truly is.

And that’s the concern and the question.

If you believe that you can change history, that somehow your personnel and system can change four seasons of proof, he’s probably worth the gamble, even with the astronomical sum of money he’s still owed on his contract.

And I assume that’s a debate raging in some front offices right now.

Can we play four on five on offence most games in this era of the NBA? Can we fix what hasn’t been fixable, for whatever reason, over four years? How much of it is mental, how much of it is physical, how much of it is simply not bothering to put in the work?

Those, to me, are legitimate questions and I would presume the Raptors are asking themselves the very same things if they are at all interested in jumping into the fray and seeing if anything is possible.

I don’t think there’s a logical match in a trade, even if they think they can change Simmons, or at least improve him. I don’t think Philly will simply trade a 25-year-old Simmons for a 35-year-old Kyle Lowry straight up, even if the money could be made to match and I don’t see another logical combination of players going one way or the other that works to everyone’s benefit.

And, most important, I don’t think there should be any interests. Despite his abundant talent in many facets of the game, I cannot get past Simmons’ inability or unwillingness, to even slightly improve the one glaring flaw in his game.

That’s says a lot about a player, to me. None of it good.

4 ways the Raptors could trade for 76ers star Ben Simmons – Sportsnet

In the NBA you can pull off a transaction called a “sign-and-trade,” where a team is able to re-sign one of its free agents for the purpose of trading that player to another team.

In the Raptors’ case, they have a massive free agent in Kyle Lowry who, despite being 35, could command major money again — especially given what Chris Paul is doing at 36 years of age in the NBA Finals right now.

Conveniently, for a hypothetical deal with the Sixers, if the Raptors decide to re-sign Lowry at the same figure as this past season ($30.5 million), that would work well as far as salary matching goes for Simmons, who is owed about $33 million next season and about $146.68 million over the next four seasons.

In terms of fit for both teams, while the Sixers have been said to covet the Philadelphia native Lowry for a while, it’s unclear if they’d want to bring him in at about $30 million per season. If that is the case, the number would have to be lower, which might complicate the transaction on the Raptors’ end a little more.

With that said, Lowry would look great on Philly’s roster as a legitimate playmaker who makes others around him better, a plus-defender and — most importantly — a deadeye shooter that would help better space the floor for the likes of Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.

As for the Raptors, given the success they’ve had with Fred VanVleet playing off-ball as a shooting guard alongside Lowry, they could keep that strategy intact because Simmons could slide in as the team’s starting point guard, alongside VanVleet in the backcourt.

His shooting woes would be problematic, but the possibilities defensively of a starting lineup that features a foursome of Simmons, VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam would be intriguing to say the least, and could mitigate the lack of outside marksmanship.

‘Faster and stronger than ever.’ Canada’s Olympic team is the largest since 1984 | The Star

The most recognizable names are likely soccer star Christine Sinclair, swimming sensation Penny Oleksiak, sprinter Andre De Grasse, golfer Brooke Henderson and trampolinist Rosie MacLennan, a two-time Olympic champion.

“Every single athlete on this team has faced adversity, uncertainty and disruption, having to adapt and adjust to a new timeline and a new world,” MacLennan said in a release. “That they have come this far is a testament to their determination and perseverance. I am so excited that, after a year’s delay, we will all have the opportunity to show Canada, and the world, what we have been working for.”

Canada brought home 22 medals from Rio in 2016, the most ever for the country in a non-boycotted Games. Of those, 16 were won by women.

There won’t be anywhere near the same level of camaraderie among Canadian athletes that’s existed at every other Olympics because of strict measures put in place by Games organizers. Athletes can’t check into the Olympic village until five days before their competition begins, and have to leave 48 hours after they are done. They will be tested daily with regular temperature checks, and masks are mandatory off the field of play.

Tokyo was placed under a state of emergency earlier this week because of rising COVID-19 numbers. And with no fans allowed, the team spirit that always draws athletes from one discipline to watch another won’t be replicated.

Still, just being around fellow Canadian athletes should create some kind of buzz.

“I think once we get to the village and you’re around all the athletes, that environment is so invigorating and energizing,” Canadian basketball coach Lisa Thomaidis told the Star last week. “Seeing other Team Canada athletes — even though we won’t be able to hang out with them, but just seeing them there, being in an apartment full of Team Canada — that brings so much with it.”

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