Kyle Lowry

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 TSN.ca. “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 SNY.tv.

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.

Atlantic Notes: Carroll, Afflalo, Stevens

DeMarre Carroll may not return to action this season from right knee surgery, which underwent in early January, but Raptors coach Dwane Casey still maintains that no final decision has been made regarding the swingman, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca relays in a series of tweets. “I expect him [to return]; I’ve heard nothing else other than that,” Casey told reporters when asked if Carroll would play again this season. Kyle Lowry‘s balky right elbow is also a worry for Toronto, but Casey said the point guard’s injury merely involves a bursa sac and added that there’s no reason to shut him down for that sort of malady, Lewenberg writes. Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun noted previously that Lowry’s elbow issues were affecting his shot and the team was seriously concerned as the season winds down.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks shooting guard Arron Afflalo isn’t thrilled with interim coach Kurt Rambis‘ decision to bring him off the bench and indicated that his role will influence his decision-making process this offseason, Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. Afflalo has a player option worth $8MM for the 2016/17 campaign. “It’s different, but all I can do is get out there and try my best,’’ Afflalo said. “With seven games to go, I’ll be able to assess what’s best for me as a player. Right now I got to do what the team asks me and play the minutes and role they ask me. Hopefully I’ll have more good games than bad.’’ The veteran also added that he doesn’t expect his role to change before the season ends, Berman notes. “I doubt it. It doesn’t matter to me at this point,” Afflalo said. “If things go well, I have intentions of it going well, [but] if not, I will move on to the next.’’
  • Boston was initially upset when Doc Rivers departed for the Clippers, but Brad Stevens remains the perfect coach to guide the Celtics through their rebuilding process, writes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. “I would have been into it if I kept the job, obviously, but I just think it worked out the way it was going to work out,” Rivers said. “It’s a great situation for them, but I think it would have worked either way, honestly. But Brad comes in with great energy, with youth. Having had to rebuild twice, this would have been my third, and that’s hard to do. People don’t appreciate that. I mean, talk to Brad. He’ll tell you how hard it is — and in nine years he won’t want to do it again either.” Bulpett notes that Stevens is far better equipped to develop and relate to the franchise’s younger players, having joined the Celtics directly from the college ranks.

Atlantic Notes: Turner, Crowder, Kilpatrick, Casey

The CelticsEvan Turner is finally getting past the burden of being the second player taken in the 2010 draft, and it’s showing in his performance, writes Jessica Camerato of CSN Philly. The sixth-year swingman, who is rumored to be an offseason target for the Knicks, has become a valuable contributor in Boston, averaging 10 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 70 games this season. Turner never became the star the Sixers hoped he would be when they selected him, and he seemed out of place during a brief stay in Indiana in 2014. However, Turner has put together two solid seasons with the Celtics and seems well-positioned headed into free agency. “I just feel like the freedom to come in and play in a system that doesn’t demand and expect, ‘Hey, you’re the second player chosen.’ He took some hits in that early path,” said Sixers coach Brett Brown. “I see, like in a lot of young guys, they find their stride at a little bit later date. I’m proud of him.”

There’s more news out of Boston and the rest of the division:

  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens says Jae Crowder should be back on the court in about two weeks, tweets A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE. Crowder suffered a high ankle sprain in a March 11th game, and a report last week said he could be sidelined through the first round of the playoffs. But Stevens is more optimistic today, saying Crowder is making progress.
  • Sean Kilpatrick‘s  6’4″ size cast him as a tweener and helped him slip through the cracks up until recently, but his scoring versatility makes him a promising addition for the NetsNetsDaily concludes in a video analysis. Kilpatrick signed a multiyear deal with Brooklyn this weekend following a pair of 10-day contracts.
  • Coach Dwane Casey’s tough-minded approach has helped the Raptors become a serious challenger for the Eastern Conference title, according to Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders. Entering tonight, Toronto was 48-21, just a game behind the Cavaliers for the No. 1 seed. It was widely expected that Masai Ujiri would make a coaching change when he took over as GM in 2013, but he stuck with Casey and later retained free agent point guard Kyle Lowry and the pair have become the emotional leaders of the franchise.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

And-Ones: Durant, Harden, Most Improved, Hawks

Kevin Durant has a shot at the largest contract in league history when his free agency officially arrives this summer, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. Durant will have plenty of options to choose from, starting with the Thunder, who would love to keep him and Russell Westbrook together through the prime of their careers. The Warriors are believed to be the front-runners if Durant decides to leave Oklahoma City, and his hometown Wizards will surely be calling, along with the Lakers, who will need a star to replace Kobe Bryant. Or Durant could sign a one-year deal with OKC, maximize his earning power as a 10-year veteran and put off the larger decision until 2017. “Everybody’s going to ask me, so of course I’m going to have to think about it now,” Durant said. “To tell you one thing, it’s great to feel wanted, I guess.”

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

  • James Harden says he feels unfairly targeted for the bad situation in Houston, Washburn writes in the same piece, particularly the rumored rifts with Rockets center Dwight Howard and former coach Kevin McHale“All the time,” Harden said when asked if he feels he’s being singled out over team disunity, “but I don’t really pay attention to it. I can’t focus on negativity because that drains you. I focus on what I can do, what I can control, and go out there and just compete at a high level.”
  • The Blazers‘ C.J. McCollum is almost certain to win this season’s Most Improved Player award, according to Eric Saar of Basketball Insiders. McCollum, who’ll be up for a rookie scale extension this summer, has become a full-time starter and has raised his scoring average from 6.8 points a game last year to 21.1 points this season. Saar’s other candidates for the award are the WarriorsDraymond Green, the CelticsIsaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder and the RaptorsKyle Lowry.
  • The Hawks have recalled center Edy Tavares and guard/forward Lamar Patterson from the Austin Spurs of the D-League, the team announced today. Tavares has averaged 10.1 points and 9.6 rebounds in 14 D-League games, while Patterson’s averages are 15.6 points, 5.7 assists and 5.0 rebounds in seven games with Austin.
  • Chris Douglas-Roberts, whom the Pelicans cut in training camp, will be rejoining the D-League’s Texas Legends, who are the affiliate of the Maverickstweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com.

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