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Kyle Lowry

Atlantic Notes: Bennett, Lowry, Bradley

Anthony Bennett is hoping to salvage his NBA career with the Nets this season. In an interview with Oliver Maroney of Basketball Insiders, Bennett addressed his individual goals for the season, telling the scribe, “I just want to come in and become a part of the Nets family. My work ethic is something that I want to speak for itself. I want to show my ability to lead by example, a skill I got through playing with Team Canada. This year, one of my goals is to have fun with the game again. And I want to represent the city of Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Nets the best I can on and off the court.

In response to a question about why he believed Brooklyn would be a good fit for him, Bennett told Maroney, “Our mix of youth and experience is something that makes us unique. We have good chemistry, everybody seems to be unselfish and is playing the game the right way. I just want to fit in the best I can with the team, starting with my defense and rebounding. My offensive game will be an extension of those things.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was reportedly never a fan of Jeremy Lin‘s when the two were teammates. When asked about Lin potentially becoming the face of the Nets franchise, ‘Melo may have taken a veiled shot at the point guard, Ian Begley of writes. “What do I think about it? … He is the face of that franchise, believe it or not. He came up, they paid him and now the ball is in his hands,” Anthony said. “So now he’s one of the franchise players over there. What do you want me to say about that? I’m happy for him, excited for him to see how it’s going to work out, turn out over there.” The wording in question is the “believe it or not” portion of the statement, Begley adds. It should be noted that during the same interview, Anthony said that he’d love to have Line back with the Knicks.
  • Given the current economics around the NBA, it should come as no surprise that Kyle Lowry intends to opt out of his deal with the Raptors at season’s end, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. The scribe also classifies the point guard as a “young 30-years-old,” given that he was a reserve for a large portion of his career.
  • Avery Bradley has made his name in the NBA as a tenacious defender, but the Celtics guard wants to change the perception that he’s limited offensively, Chris Forsberg of relays. “I want people to see me as a two-way player,” said Bradley. “A defensive player and an offensive player. It’s fun, man. That’s what the game is supposed to be about: always wanting to get better, be the best you can be. I hold myself to that every single summer, every single year. I’m just trying to improve. I love the game of basketball so much. I have a lot of goals for myself. I want to make sure I compete every single day.

Kyle Lowry Plans To Opt Out In 2017, Hopes For New Deal With Raptors

During the 2016 offseason, DeMar DeRozan opted out of the final year of his contract with the Raptors, but quickly agreed to terms with the team on a new deal when free agency opened on July 1. If Kyle Lowry has his way, he’ll emulate the path of his All-Star teammate in 2017. Lowry tells Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical that he plans to decline his 2017/18 option, but hopes to re-sign with Toronto.

“If you’re that franchise’s guy, and you’re the guy that they’ve been rolling with, and you’ve given that franchise everything you have, yeah, I think [negotiations] should be easy,” Lowry said. “I think it should be a situation where a guy shouldn’t have to talk to another team. DeMar didn’t have the chance to talk to another team. … For me, I think that at 12:01 a.m. on July 1 – something should be close. If not, I’m open to seeing what else is out there.”

[RELATED: Offseason In Review: Toronto Raptors]

As Wojnarowski points out, Lowry isn’t issuing any sort of threat or ultimatum to the Raptors — his decision to opt out will simply be a reflection of the “robust” free agent market. The veteran point guard is currently set to earn $12MM in 2016/17, with a $12MM option for 2017/18. If he has another All-Star season and hits the market, there’s a very good chance Lowry will receive multiyear offers worth five to 10 times that amount next July, even at age 31.

According to Wojnarowski, Lowry “loves the life he has” in Toronto, and his preference next summer will be negotiating a new long-term deal with the team, preferably for five years. In training camp last week, the Villanova product expressed a desire to avoid talking about his contract throughout the season, so he’ll likely take an approach similar to the one DeRozan took a year ago. And if the Raptors are as aggressive in contract talks with Lowry as they were with DeRozan, it sounds like he won’t be going anywhere.

Lowry ranked ninth last month in the first installment of our 2017 free agent power rankings, though he would have moved up a spot after Giannis Antetokounmpo signed an extension with the Bucks.

Atlantic Notes: Anthony, Paul, Lowry

The Knicks are hoping that the roster changes they made this offseason will alleviate some of the pressure off of Carmelo Anthony and don’t want the forward feeling like he needs to “do everything” in order to be successful, Ian Begley of relays. “A lot of times he has a penchant to take the ball himself up the court and slow the play down, the development down, by pushing the ball up the court himself or taking the inbound pass,” team president Phil Jackson told the media. “Those are some of the small things that we asked to look at and maybe we could change. With the outstanding guard corps that we have — Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings, guys who can really push the ball at a certain level — I think he’s going to be much more comfortable allowing them to do what they’re best at.

We’re hoping that the level of talent that is on the team will lead to him not thinking, ‘I have to do everything,’” coach Jeff Hornacek added. “He’s a great passer. He’s made great passes in some of these games that we’ve seen. I think when he has that trust in his teammates, he’s going to make those passes, and we’re going to get easy buckets.”

Here’s more from out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who can opt out of his current deal after the 2016/17 campaign is complete, told members of the media that he won’t be discussing free agency until the season is over, Eric Koreen relays (via Twitter). Lowry will assuredly command more on the open market than the $12MM he is owed for 2017/18.
  • Despite the Sixers bringing 20 players into training camp, Brandon Paul has a legitimate shot to make the opening night roster, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders opines. The scribe notes that Paul’s contract has more guaranteed money included than the deals of Robert Covington, Hollis Thompson, Jerami Grant, T.J. McConnell, Shawn Long and James Webb. Discussing why he chose to sign with Philly, Paul told Kennedy, “I just felt like, all around, it was the best decision for me to come in and compete. They obviously have a young roster and I kind of bring in a little bit of maturity to that roster. Obviously, I’m relatively young as well. But around those guys, I’m kind of the older one and I’m a little more seasoned because I played overseas and in the D-League. I think I can bring a little bit of toughness and maturity to the roster.
  • Neither the Raptors nor DeMar DeRozan wanted the player to end up anywhere other than Toronto, writes Michael Grange of, who details the free agent process the two parties went through in reaching a five-year agreement this summer.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Olynyk, Sloan, Nets

The Raptors have focused on keeping as much of their own talent as possible in free agency, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Over the years, Toronto has been a place that star players have left, with the list including Marcus Camby, Damon Stoudamire, Vince Carter and Chris Bosh. This summer, the Raptors didn’t have the cap room to keep backup center Bismack Biyombo, but they held onto DeMar DeRozan as part of a core that is largely tied up with long-term contracts. “The improvement of our team is going to come from inside,” said GM Masai Ujiri.Kyle [Lowry], DeMar, and Jonas [Valanciunas] and Patrick [Patterson] and Terrence [Ross]. They will probably take it to another level.” The Raptors’ major addition in free agency was former Boston power forward Jared Sullinger.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics will probably wait until next offseason to make a long-term decision on Kelly Olynyk, Washburn writes in the same piece. Olynyk can sign an extension up to the October 30th deadline, but Boston wants to see the 25-year-old big man for one more season before making a commitment. Olynyk has missed 43 games in his first three seasons, and Washburn writes that the Celtics want him to display more “toughness and consistency.”
  • Donald Sloan, who played 61 games for the Nets last season, has reached an agreement to play in China with the Guangdong Tigers, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. His teammates will include former NBA All-Star Carlos Boozer and one-time lottery pick Yi Jianlian. The 28-year-old Sloan averaged 7.0 points and 4.4 assists with Brooklyn in 2015/16.
  • The $100K guarantees the Nets gave to Yogi Ferrell and Egidijus Mockevicius are the largest the organization has ever handed out to an undrafted college player, according to NetsDaily. Brooklyn signed both players to partially guaranteed training camp contracts this week, along with Beau Beech, who got $45K in guaranteed money. Brooklyn now has 18 players under contract, and the website projects veteran big man Henry Sims and summer league standout Marcus Georges-Hunt as possibilities if GM Sean Marks decides to go with the league maximum of 20.

Eastern Notes: Okafor, Simmons, Millsap, Young

Life in the NBA hasn’t been what Jahlil Okafor expected, but he tells Bob Cooney of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he wants to change that, and he hopes to do it with the Sixers. Okafor’s rookie season was plagued by off-court incidents and injuries that limited him to 53 games. He has spent the offseason listening to trade rumors, along with talk that his style of play doesn’t fit the modern NBA game. “[The trade talk] is definitely all stupid with a lot of speculation,” Okafor said. “I see where people will write what I’m feeling and I haven’t even spoken to them. A lot of stuff is made up and it’s annoying. But for the most part, it’s fine. For me, at a certain point, I got upset when another story came out that said we were upset with the team and that just wasn’t the case. But I’m just looking forward to the season now.” Okafor is still rehabbing from surgery in February to repair a torn meniscus, but he hopes to be cleared for five-on-five play soon.

There’s more news out of the Eastern Conference:
  • After getting his first taste of the NBA during summer league, Ben Simmons plans to work on “everything” before training camp, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The No. 1 pick played six summer league games, averaging 10.8 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists. But there were concerns about his turnover rate — 3.8 per game — and a habit of standing around when he didn’t have the ball. “It’s just everyday education,” said Sixers summer league coach Lloyd Pierce. “It’s just learning the NBA, basic timing, position, execution. I can throw out every basketball term in the book. He’s just got to learn the game.”
  • The Magic should take another shot at Hawks power forward Paul Millsap next summer, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel. Orlando talked to Millsap in 2015 before he decided to re-sign with Atlanta, and with a player option for 2017/18, he might be a free agent again in 12 months. Millsap tops a list of potential 2017 free agent targets Schmitz listed for the Magic. Others mentioned are Gordon Hayward, J.J. Redick, Jeff Teague and Kyle Lowry.
  • Whispers about James Young‘s commitment to the game continue to haunt him as he battles for a roster spot with the Celtics, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Young came into the league with people doubting his work ethic, and now there are concerns that he hasn’t developed as much as he should. “I’ve seen that for 35 years in the NBA,” said president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who wasn’t specifically talking about Young. “They don’t understand the urgency. They feel like they’ve made it, and they don’t understand that staying in the NBA should be their objective and not just making it here.”

USA Basketball Finalizes 2016 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has finalized its 12-man roster for this summer’s Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press details. Team USA will head into the 2016 Olympics looking to win its third straight Gold medal in basketball. Barring any injuries or other unforeseen circumstances, the following 12 players will be representing America in Brazil this summer:

While Team USA’s roster features a bevy of All-Stars, former Olympians, and an MVP winner, many notable players declined invitations to play in Rio this summer. LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden are among those who withdrew from consideration.

And-Ones: Olympics, Griffin, Messina, Vesely

Kyrie Irving and Harrison Barnes will fill the last two spots on the U.S. Olympic basketball team, writes Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press. The roster will be formally announced Monday in New York. Ten players committed earlier, but Mahoney reports that openings were left for Irving and LeBron James, who both asked for more time to decide after playing in the NBA Finals, which ended Sunday. James opted not to make the trip to Rio de Janeiro.

Barnes joins Warriors teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green on the roster, along with Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Paul George, DeMarcus Cousins, Jimmy Butler and DeAndre Jordan.

There’s more news tonight from around the basketball world:

  • The State of Florida has dropped first-degree attempted murder charges against former D-League All-Star Eric Griffin, according to D-League Digest. Griffin last played in the D-League in 2014/15, when he was a third-team all-league selection and a second-team all-defensive choice. He played in Dubai this season and may be ready for a shot at the NBA now that his legal case has been resolved.
  • Despite rumors, Spurs assistant coach Ettore Messina won’t be leaving to take a job in Spain, tweets international journalist David Pick. “I have no contact with Barcelona,” Messina said. “I’m a happy Spur.”
  • Several NBA teams are interested in former lottery pick Jan Vesely, according to Sportando. The Mavericks, Nets and Pelicans are the teams listed as suitors for Vesely, who was selected sixth overall by the Wizards in the 2011 draft. Vesely played for Fenerbahce in Turkey this season and is a free agent. He is expected to get offers in the range of $30MM over three years.
  • Greek star Giannis Bourousis is ready to take a shot at the NBA, reports Aris Barkas of Eurohoops“I would go to any NBA team,” said the 32-year-old seven-footer. “I just want to be there, after 14 years in Euroleague.”

Raptors Notes: DeRozan, Biyombo, Lowry, Cousins

The Raptors’ top two impending free agents offered clues to their future as they cleared out their lockers this morning. In the wake of Friday’s Game 6 loss to the Cavaliers, shooting guard DeMar DeRozan sounded like he has made up his mind to stay in Toronto, tweets Josh Lewenberg of “I don’t think so,” DeRozan said when asked if he thought he could find a better situation in free agency. “My mindset has always been Toronto. … I don’t want to switch it up now.” In response to a question about playing his entire career with one organization, DeRozan replied, “I think that’s the most incredible thing you can do. … That’s awesome.” (Twitter link). DeRozan, 26, has spent seven years with the Raptors, who took him ninth overall in the 2009 draft. He is expected to turn down a $9.5MM option for next season and become an unrestricted free agent. Toronto can offer a five-year deal worth $144.6MM, while other teams will be limited to four years and $107.4MM. DeRozan also seemed to dismiss rumors that he might be interested in returning to his hometown of Los Angeles and signing with the Lakers. “Only thing appealing to me is the things I’ve done in this organization and the things I can do,” he said. (Twitter link).

Bismack Biyombo also expressed a preference for staying in Toronto, and said he has overheard GM Masai Ujiri state that he will do “whatever it takes” to keep the big man (Twitter link). “I love it up here and I would love to be back,” said Biyombo, who has a shot at getting maximum offers after his playoff performance. Biyombo, who has already decided to opt out of his $2.9MM deal for next season, adds that he would be willing to remain in a reserve role behind Jonas Valanciunas if necessary. “For me it’s about winning,” Biyombo said. “Starting or not starting, it doesn’t matter.” (Twitter link).

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • Kyle Lowry will undergo a physical later today, and the Raptors will determine whether the point guard needs surgery on his right elbow, Lewenberg tweets. Lowry offered support to coach Dwane Casey, saying, “That man is the all-time winningest coach here. He’s been great. … He’s grown every year since I’ve been here.” Casey is expected to receive an extension after being on shaky ground heading into the playoffs.
  • James Johnson and Jason Thompson won’t be back in Toronto, and Luis Scola and Biyombo could be leaving as well, opines Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. Wolstat writes that the Raptors’ biggest offseason challenge will be to add more shooting to the lineup without breaking up the current core. He also expects turnover on the Toronto bench, where Andy Greer, Rex Kalamian and Nick Nurse have all been rumored for other jobs.
  • Oklahoma point guard Isaiah Cousins will work out for the Raptors on Tuesday, tweets Adam Zagoria of

Raptors Notes: Casey, DeRozan, Lowry, Biyombo

The Raptors may be looking at a complete overhaul if they lose tonight’s Game 7 against the Pacers, writes Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. GM Masai Ujiri gave coach Dwane Casey a vote of confidence before the playoffs began, but Wolstat expects a coaching change if the Raptors don’t win this series. A loss could also affect the team’s desire to give max money to shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, who will become a free agent in July. The two-time All-Star has seen his production drop in the playoffs, and Wolstat says many in the organization are losing faith that he will ever become an effective postseason player. “You don’t really get caught up with what everybody’s saying, what everybody’s writing, what people who probably never played basketball in their life have got to say about it, other people’s opinions,” DeRozan said. “You just go home, whether you hang with your family, watch the film and just get ready for tomorrow.” A loss may also affect the future of point guard Kyle Lowry, who can opt out after next season and will be seeking a max deal at age 31. Center Bismack Biyombo will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Raptors may have to move some salary if they want to keep him. That could mean not re-signing DeRozan or trading backup swingman Terrence Ross.

There’s more pregame news out of Toronto:

  • If Casey does get fired, he has done enough with the Raptors to land another head coaching job, Wolstat tweets. Casey has a 210-184 regular season record in five seasons with Toronto but has never won a playoff series.
  • The Raptors are pleased with the development of rookie shooting guard Norman Powell, but that won’t affect their decision on DeRozan, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Powell, a second-round pick whom Toronto acquired from the Bucks on draft night, spent much of the season in the D-League but averaged 5.6 points per night in 49 games with the Raptors.
  • Casey acknowledges the “heavy burden of history” hanging over the Raptors as they enter Game 7, relays Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star. Toronto, which claimed the second seed in the East with a 56-26 regular season record, is coming off playoff disappointments against the Nets and Wizards the past two seasons. “It means everything for us to advance,” DeRozan said. “The season would be a failure if we don’t make it out of this first round.”

DeMarre Carroll’s Return This Season In Doubt

5:40pm: The swingman says he will “ramp up'” his recovery from knee surgery and that he hopes to play in a couple games prior to the end of regular season, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

12:35pm: Carroll has recently sought second opinions and chatted with the doctor who performed his surgery, and he’ll escalate the intensity of his training if he receives assurance that his knee is OK, Grange writes. The way the knee responds in the next week to 10 days is crucial, as Grange details.

WEDNESDAY, 9:34am: Reports conflict over Carroll’s status, with Sportsnet’s Michael Grange hearing that he’s expected to resume on-court activity as soon as today amid optimism that he’ll be back in games before the end of the regular season (Twitter links). Wolstat insists pessimism still exists on that front (Twitter link). Coach Dwane Casey said Tuesday that he expects Carroll to return this season.

TUESDAY, 1:01pm: Every indication is that DeMarre Carroll has suffered some kind of setback that has cast serious doubt on his ability to return this season, writes Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. The team’s prize offseason acquisition was reportedly likely to return by month’s end from the right knee surgery he had in early January, but Carroll’s status has been shrouded in mystery the past few weeks, as Wolstat details. Some around the league raised the possibility of Carroll missing the rest of the season when he had the surgery, as Wolstat reported then, but the Raptors were confident at that point that he would be back.

Carroll was driving to the basket against assistant coaches and shooting 3-pointers a few weeks ago as he awaited clearance for contact, but the team has been quiet about him since, and he’s been in Atlanta tending to personal business, Wolstat writes. Rookie Norman Powell has impressed in a fill-in role, but he’s far from Carroll’s equal, and Kyle Lowry‘s balky right elbow is clearly affecting his shot and has become a major concern, as Wolstat examines.

Toronto doesn’t have much roster flexibility with 15 players signed through season’s end. The team is devoid of other injuries aside from a minor hand issue for Terrence Ross, so a hardship exception for a 16th roster spot isn’t in play. The deadline for a disabled player exception has long since passed, and no one the team could add at the back end of its roster would realistically make up for the potential loss of Carroll anyway.

The Raptors signed the 3-and-D extraordinaire to a four-year, $58MM contract this past summer after he had a career year with the Hawks last season. Toronto has nonetheless done well without him, going 28-10 since he last played.

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