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Kyle Lowry

Atlantic Notes: Okafor, Lowry, Lopez

Much has changed over the course of the first two and a half months of the season, writes John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Sixers are now faced with different circumstances than what they began the year with. Part-way through January, it appears as though Jahlil Okafor — and not Nerlens Noel — is the most likely to be traded.

Okafor, Smallwood writes, is an impressive big man and goes on to cite the 21-year-old’s All-Rookie team performance last year as one of the reasons why. Even in some recent performances, the center has shown that he’s a solid young player, perhaps capable of averaging 20 and 10 eventually. The emergence of Embiid as a reliable option at the five for the Sixers, has rendered Okafor’s services less necessary than they would be otherwise.

In order to take advantage of Okafor’s value, the Sixers should look to trade the big man in order to reconfigure the balance of their roster and Smallwood gives several examples of players that could theoretically come back to Philadelphia in a trade. Smallwood offers Jaylen Brown, Jordan Clarkson and Doug McDermott as three perimeters threats that could potentially be had in exchange for Okafor.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • It’s too early to think about free agency, Kyle Lowry tells ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, but for whatever it’s worth, the guard considers Toronto “home”. Currently under contract for $12MM with a player option for $12MM in 2017/18, Lowry could net a significant pay raise over the summer if he opts out. “When the time comes, then I will worry about [free agency],” says Lowry. “[The Raptors] will definitely will be an option.
  • The Nets have a decision on Brook Lopez to make prior to the trade deadline, but an injury to Jeremy Lin has made things more complicated, writes Seth Berkman of the New York Times. The franchise would ideally like to see how Lopez and Lin fare together before making a significant change but the tandem has been limited to just a handful of games healthy at the same time.
  • Desperate for a positive development, the Knicks have considered playing Kristaps Porzingis at the five, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. “Sometimes it’s a chance you have to take, but we continue to look over that,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said. “We just need to mix it up maybe a little more.” Moving Porzingis to the center position would push Joakim Noah to the bench.
  • We discussed the meeting between Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony earlier, but it’s worth adding here that Jackson specifically told the veteran forward he did not subscribe to the criticisms in the now infamous Charley Rosen article, says Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Lin, Sixers, Anthony

The Raptors have two very difficult decisions looming in their pursuit of the top spot in the Eastern Conference, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post opines. They must decide whether to go all-in this season in their quest to knock off the Cavs, which would mean trading off some young pieces for another impact player, preferable a power forward, Bontemps continues. The Magic’s Serge Ibaka and Hawks’ Paul Millsap — forwards that the Raptors have pursued in the past and will become free agents this summer — would be logical targets, in Bontemps’ view. This summer, they’ll have to decide whether to offer point guard and impending free agent Kyle Lowry a max five-year deal worth over $200MM or risk seeing him walk. Lowry will attract numerous suitors but his age — he turns 31 this spring — could make a long-term commitment a risky investment, Bontemps adds.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets are taking a committee approach with point guard Jeremy Lin sidelined again by a hamstring injury, Brian Lewis of the New York Post reports. Coach Kenny Atkinson is rotating Randy Foye, rookie Isaiah Whitehead and Spencer Dinwiddie in Lin’s absence, while shooting guard Sean Kilpatrick is also taking a bigger role in the playmaking duties, Lewis continues. “I think it was ensemble,” Atkinson told Lewis and other media members. “That’s how we’re going to do it.”
  • The Sixers’ frontcourt pairing of Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor has been a colossal failure defensively thus far, as Derek Bodner of Phillymag.com details. In six games since coach Brett Brown paired the two big men in the starting lineup, the Sixers have given up an average of 122.3 points per 100 possessions when they’re on the court. What’s more troubling, as Bodner notes, is that the poor defensive performances have come against sub-par offensive teams.
  • Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek doesn’t believe Carmelo Anthony should have been ejected on Tuesday for swinging his forearm at the head of Hawks swingman Thabo Sefolosha, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports. Hornacek asserted that Sefolosha grabbed Anthony around the neck before the forearm swing, though Berman notes that was not apparent on replays while labeling Hornacek’s stance as bizarre. “I don’t blame [Anthony] for what happened, honestly,” Hornacek told Berman. “Watch the replay, watch the action. The guy had his arms wrapped around his neck. … What are you going to do? Just stand there or you going to get the guy off you? It’s a natural reaction.”

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Nogueira, Anthony

Zach Lowe thinks that the Sixers will absolutely make a run at pending free agent Kyle Lowry this summer. The ESPN journalist spoke on his The Lowe Post podcast with Brian Windhorst Thursday, citing several reasons why the franchise could pursue the veteran Raptors point guard.

Lowry is from Philadelphia, Lowe mentions, and has played under ex-Raptors executive Bryan Colangelo previously. On top of that, the Sixers will have an exorbitant amount of cap space and could benefit from the services of a point guard should they ultimately decide to utilize Ben Simmons in ways other than as a traditional playmaker.

Worth noting is that Windhorst believes Cory Joseph to be a suitable replacement for the 30-year-old point guard while Lowe believes that such a drop off would be too much for the Raptors.

Also in the Atlantic Division:

 

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 12/19/16

Here are Monday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

9:51pm:

  • The Warriors have recalled Damian Jones from their D-League affiliate, says the team in a press release. The center posted 17 points and nine rebounds in his lone game with the Santa Cruz Warriors Sunday night.

3:20pm:

  • The Raptors have sent Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet back the D-League, the team announced today (via Twitter). Neither player has seen much action this season for Toronto, but with Cory Joseph and Delon Wright on the shelf, VanVleet was Kyle Lowry‘s backup on Sunday and played a career-high 23 minutes.
  • The Jazz have recalled rookie forward Joel Bolomboy from the Salt Lake City Stars, according to a team release. During his most recent game with Utah’s D-League affiliate over the weekend, Bolomboy helped lead the team to a win with 28 points and 19 rebounds.
  • The Magic have recalled C.J. Wilcox and Stephen Zimmerman from their D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Both players were sent down on December 15.

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 ESPN.com 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 ESPN.com 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 ESPN.com 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 Sportsnet.ca, 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.

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