Morning Coffee – Wed, Jul 12

Exhausted and over this off-season; wake me up when something happens.

VanVleet’s exit, Siakam trade rumours amplify Raptors’ struggles | The Star

Still, when you look back … there was that January halftime flare-up between sophomore star Scottie Barnes and forward Thaddeus Young. To an outsider, that incident looked like Young, a 35-year-old veteran was attempting to speak some truth to the 21-year-old Barnes, who reacted dismissively.

Even if that was promptly brushed under the rug, there were also murmurs, as Barnes stagnated in the wake of his rookie-of-the-year campaign, that Barnes had been far more enthusiastic about shooting off-season commercials than practice-lab jumpers. And speaking of habits, at season’s end, Barnes at least acknowledged that he wasn’t in sufficient condition to take the competitive leap many envisioned.

“I probably need a different level of conditioning for the way I want to play,” he said.

Which, as harbingers go, seems like a solid bit of self-awareness, albeit a belated one.

Still, the persistence of Raptorland trade rumours suggests that Ujiri isn’t convinced that an in-shape Barnes, along with new head coach Darko Rajakovic, will amount to enough off-season turnover to produce significant change, let alone palpable improvement — especially with the gaping hole at point guard left by Fred VanVleet’s free-agent flight to Houston.

The idea that Pascal Siakam would be the logical odd man out in a deal to further retool the roster has been brewing for a long while. And even though Ujiri has a reputation for overvaluing his players at the expense of pulling the trigger on trades, nobody who watches the team closely would be surprised to see Siakam moved in the lead-up to a contract year.

And maybe it’d be for the best. If the recipe isn’t right, it only makes sense to change the ingredients. And as VanVleet suggested last week, the recipe in Toronto probably needs more than a little tweaking.

“There was a mix of guys that had been there, new guys trying to prove themselves — it didn’t work out. It wasn’t a great fit, for whatever reason,” VanVleet told “The Pivot” podcast with ex-NFLers Channing Crowder, Fred Taylor and Ryan Clark. “The chemistry didn’t click. And that’s probably the most I can say about that.”

VanVleet went on to point out that the chemistry issue isn’t necessarily a Raptors problem. It’s societal and generational — a sports world flashpoint highlighting the differences in sensibilities of millennials, as represented by the 29-year-old likes of VanVleet and Siakam, and members of so-called Gen Z, among them the 21-year-old Barnes.

“We’re in the middle of a new generation. A whole new generation of kids is entering the NBA that’s a little bit different from (how), say, I was brought up in the game,” VanVleet told the podcast. “And I think that’s where you’re seeing some of (the tension).”

One of the podcast hosts suggested the new generation of NBAers is “soft.” But VanVleet was less judgmental in his assessment. VanVleet said people in his age group span a kind of divide — one whose inflection point is the advent of social media — which makes them inherently different than teammates who’ve grown up fully under the influence of the influential technology.
One of the podcast hosts suggested the new generation of NBAers is “soft.” But VanVleet was less judgmental in his assessment. VanVleet said people in his age group span a kind of divide — one whose inflection point is the advent of social media — which makes them inherently different than teammates who’ve grown up fully under the influence of the influential technology.

“The first half of my childhood it was no social media; it was play outside: X, Y, Z,” VanVleet said.

Once VanVleet got to high school, he said social media began to proliferate.

“I’m kind of right in the middle, on that line. So I’m understanding there’s a whole new generation that’s coming after me,” he said.

Again, this is hardly just a Barnes problem or a Raptors problem, and it’s beyond complex. Still, the Golden State Warriors recently bailed on parts of a youth movement, trading 22-year-old James Wiseman and 24-year-old Jordan Poole after clear tensions between a multiple-title-winning veteran core and the relative newbies. In doing so, they doubled down on experience by acquiring 38-year-old Chris Paul in the deal that shipped out Poole.

And while the Warriors have stuck with 20-year-old Jonathan Kuminga and 21-year-old Moses Moody, there are those within the organization who’ve acknowledged that bridging the generation gap comes with challenges.

Shepherd on Rajakovic’s vision for Raptors, if the coach will play Barnes at point guard – Video – TSN

Jevohn Shepherd joins SC with Jay Onrait to share his impressions of Darko Rajakovic’s vision for the Raptors after speaking with the head coach, whether he see Rajakovic using Scottie Barnes as a point guard with Fred VanVleet gone, and how much can we read into Pascal Siakam’s absence at summer league amid trade rumours.

Raptors’ Gradey Dick a ‘Special’ Player Former Coaches Say – Sports Illustrated

For Skeens, the realization came in 2018 in the finals of the Jr. NBA tournament when Dick was just 14 years old. The future Toronto Raptors first-round pick wasn’t even a starter for the United States’ Central squad. The team was loaded with talent, Skeens said, and playing in one of the most prestigious youth basketball competitions in the world. But as the fourth quarter wound down, the Africa & Middle East team was giving the Central boys a run for their money.

Skeens called a timeout with just over five minutes to go. He’d seen his team squander a healthy lead and now the Americans were up just one.

The goal was simple: Find Dick in the corner.

The American point guard Mozae Downing-Rivers drove to the bucket, freed up by a ball screen above the break, and when Dick’s defender slid over to protect the rim, Downing-Rivers fired it to Dick.


“He wasn’t afraid to take the shot. Wasn’t afraid of the moment,” said Skeens, who runs the Drive5 Power Elite teams and was the head coach of the championship Central team in the tournament. “He took it in rhythm after sitting on the bench a little bit and when his number got called, he delivered.”

It takes a special kind of player to make that shot, Skeens added. It requires confidence, the kind of confidence that allows someone to goof around on TikTok, wear a sparkly red suit on draft night, and be completely comfortable being themselves.

That’s what the Raptors love about Dick and what those who have coached him say makes him unique.

What the Indiana Pacers could offer Raptors for Pascal Siakam | Toronto Sun

Longtime NBA Insider Marc Stein and Sportsnet’s Michael Grange added Orlando to the list of potential teams that have been sniffing around this week.

Indiana has long coveted another Raptors two-way forward, O.G. Anunoby, who played collegiately for the Hoosiers, but all indications are Anunoby is not on the table. Siakam doesn’t appear to be as obvious a fit in Indiana, even though he’s a better overall player than Anunoby, because the team has one of the premier creators in the game in Tyrese Haliburton and any time you take the ball out of his hands — even to give a player as talented as Siakam a chance to make decisions — you’re probably not better off.

Plus, the Pacers just spent a top-10 pick (eighth overall) on Jarace Walker, a big man who enters the NBA with some of the same strengths and weaknesses as Siakam (he can create for himself and others and can defend and rebound, like Siakam, but is also a weak outside shooter).

Plus, Haliburton led the NBA in assist percentage (the percentage of teammate field goals a player assisted on) and, with Siakam on board, would be setting up a player coming off three poor three-point shooting seasons, taking away looks from teammates who (along with Halburton) combined to rank 11th in the NBA in three-point accuracy last season.

Still, any team would improve with Siakam and Haliburton — somewhat surprisingly — does not get the usage (an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player when he’s on the floor) as you might expect. Haliburton was just 63rd in usage last season, far behind not only Siakam (35th) but also 15 other point guards. He could use some help and Siakam can provide it.

It also needs to be noted that the Pacers desperately need another top-level player. The team was 28-28 with Haliburton, just 7-19 when he was out of the lineup and, overall, just 21st in offensive efficiency.

5 Wild NBA Trades That Could Actually Work | Bleacher Report

New Orleans Pelicans receive: Pascal Siakam

Toronto Raptors receive: Jonas Valančiūnas, Larry Nance Jr., Dyson Daniels, Kira Lewis Jr., 2024 first-round pick and 2026 first-round pick

The Pelicans have a single playoff trip to show for the last five seasons and last won a postseason series in 2018. They might be getting restless and seem to want to hurry things along with their maturation process.

They’ve been connected to major trade talks seemingly throughout this offseason. They were huge fans of Scoot Henderson. They’ve inquired about Damian Lillard. They’ve also been linked to Siakam, who could be up for grabs with only one season remaining on his contract.

Toronto is reportedly “still listening, trying to gauge the market value for” Siakam, per Sportsnet’s Michael Grange. If New Orleans wants in on the bidding, it has the picks and prospects needed to get noticed.

While the Pelicans would lose size and depth at center in this deal, they could potentially expand their talent base to a championship level. How many teams have a trio on par with Siakam, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson? How many have a fourth option with as much firepower as CJ McCollum? How many could afford to roster that quartet and still have significant role players like Herb Jones, Trey Murphy III and Jose Alvarado around them?

Before injuries sank the Pelicans last season, they were ringing in the new year with the West’s best net rating and a top-five winning percentage. Enhancing that group with someone like Siakam, a two-time All-NBA honoree, could be the kind of move that puts the Pelicans firmly on a championship path so long as Williamson remains healthy.

As for the Raptors, this would be all about starting over, a process necessitated by the free-agency departure of Fred VanVleet. Valančiūnas and Nance are serviceable placeholders and potential trade chips, but the real prizes are Daniels (the 2022 No. 8 pick) and the incoming first-rounders. Toronto would also help itself if it could find a role for Lewis, a 22-year-old whom the Pelicans took 13th overall in 2020.

NBA Approves Technical Fouls for Flopping Among Rule Changes for 2023-24 Season | Bleacher Report

The NBA’s announcement explained any player deemed to have flopped will be given a non-unsportsmanlike technical foul. That means said player cannot be ejected because of an accumulation of flopping violations like they can be for other technical fouls.

Officials will also have the opportunity to wait until the next neutral chance to stop play and issue the flopping violation, meaning they do not have to stop live play if it would take away a clear scoring opportunity.

Officials can also call fouls and flops on the same play.

While coaches cannot directly challenge a flopping violation, officials can retroactively call one upon review or challenge of another play.

The NBA first put an anti-flopping rule in place with the 2012-13 season. Players were issued a warning for their first violation and then fines of $5,000 for their second, $10,000 for their third, $15,000 for their fourth and $30,000 for their fifth.

There will still be a monetary punishment system in place, but fines will start at $2,000 and then increase for repeat offenders.

Perhaps this will discourage flopping on the floor. After all, hurting one’s chance at victory and potentially letting your teammates down in a critical moment may be seen as far more punitive for players than a simple warning or fine.