- 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.“
- After suffering a foot injury in October, Jared Sullinger has recently returned to practice for the Raptors. The forward is well aware of the long road ahead of him before he’s in game shape. “It feels great, but horrible at the same time,” Sullinger tells Ryan Wolstat of the National Post of his first week of on-court action, “I have no lungs.”
- It was easy for Raptors fans to get excited about the news that Jared Sullinger has been cleared to practice, but general manager Masai Ujiri has reiterated that he has plenty of work to do yet. Sullinger will have a tough time working back into game shape this time of year, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN, and could even spend some time in the D-League working on his conditioning.
Power forward Jared Sullinger and point guard Delon Wright have both been cleared to practice, according to a tweet from the Raptors. Sullinger, who signed with Toronto over the summer, was hurt in the team’s first preseason game when his left foot was stepped on. He had surgery in October and was given a two- to three-month timetable to return. Wright has been out of action since August, when he had surgery to fix a labral tear in his right shoulder. The 20th pick in the 2015 draft, Wright spent much of his rookie season in the D-League and appeared in just 27 games for the Raptors.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- Raptors president Masai Ujiri told SportsNet the team got “tons of calls” last week in the wake of the Kyle Korver deal between the Cavaliers and Hawks. Ujiri said teams were expecting a flood of trades after that one broke, but he plans to be cautious about making any moves. “There is a window with Kyle Lowry, DeMar [DeRozan] and DeMarre [Carroll] with those kind of guys in their prime and we will take advantage,” Ujiri said. “But we’re not making bad deals. It doesn’t help business, it doesn’t help your future. Trust me, if a deal is not made just know there was nothing on the table for us that would really enhance our team.”
- Raptors center Lucas Nogueira credits lifestyle changes for his breakthrough third season, writes Gregory Strong of The National Post. Nogueira has become a regular part of Toronto’s rotation after playing just 35 games combined in his first two NBA seasons. Motivated by the birth of a baby daughter, Nogueira is spending more time in the gym, going to bed earlier and giving up alcohol. “The sky is the limit for the kid because he’s got a lot of God-given talent,” said coach Dwane Casey. “He just needs to make sure he continues to work at it, to seriously approach his job in that way because he’s a great kid.”
- Al Horford‘s Celtics teammates are focused on giving the longtime Hawk a victory in his return to Atlanta tonight, relays A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE. Horford spent nine years with the Hawks before signing with Boston in July. “He’s level-headed no matter what,” said Isaiah Thomas. “He’s the calm one in this room. But at the same time you know those games are big. You think about it, you want to play well, you want to beat your former team. But that’s our job. We have to take care of business for him, make sure he plays well. And most important, get the win.”
- Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has improved under coach Kenny Atkinson’s system, but the Nets will still listen to offers for him, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com. The second-year small forward is averaging 7.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game as a part-time starter, but Brooklyn is concerned about his shot as he is hitting just 38% from the field.
Here are Wednesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:
- The Jazz have assigned Alec Burks and Raul Neto to their D-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the team’s website. Both players were in action for tonight’s contest against the Grand Rapids Drive.
- The Blazers have assigned Tim Quarterman to the D-League, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets. Portland does not have its own affiliate, so Quarterman will play for the Windy City Bulls on this assignment.
- The Raptors recalled rookie guard Fred VanVleet from their D-League affiliate following the team’s Tuesday night victory (Twitter link). VanVleet posted a double-double for the Raptors 905 on Tuesday, with 12 points, 11 assists, and four steals.
- The Nets have re-assigned Chris McCullough to the D-League, the club announced today in a press release. The second-year power forward has played sparingly this season for Brooklyn, but has appeared in 21 games for the Long Island Nets, averaging 18.8 PPG and 8.4 RPG.
The Raptors have the assets to pull off a substantial trade, but Nick Faris of the National Post wonders if GM Masai Ujiri is willing to sacrifice the long-term view in order to go all-in this season. The team has two first-round picks in the upcoming draft and it has tremendous depth, which could allow it to give up multiple pieces in exchange for a high-quality player. Faris believes Paul Millsap, who was told by the Hawks that he wasn’t going to be traded, would be an excellent addition should Atlanta change its stance.
Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- During free agency. the Raptors promised Jared Sullinger their starting power forward spot and once the big man is healthy enough to play, he’ll take that role, Josh Lewenberg of TSN writes. Sullinger had more lucrative offers on the table but decided to join Toronto because of that promise, Lewenberg notes. There is still no timetable for his return to the court.
- Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link) hears that Nerlens Noel would still like to change teams in the offseason, barring a maximum salary offer from the Sixers. Noel will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
- There remains no official timeline for Ben Simmons to return to the Sixers‘ lineup, but he continues to make progress, as Dane Carbaugh of NBC Sports relays. Simmons played point guard during practice in five-one-zero drills and coach Brett Brown has previously said that he intends to play the rookie at that position.
Here are Monday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- After assigning them to the D-League earlier today to practice with the Salt Lake City Stars, the Jazz have recalled Alec Burks, Dante Exum, and Raul Neto, the team announced in a press release. None of the three Utah players have seen much playing time recently, so the brief NBADL assignment allowed them to get some practice reps in.
- The Spurs have recalled Dejounte Murray from the D-League, a day after he picked up 31 points and 12 boards for Austin, San Antonio’s affiliate. The club announced the transaction in a press release.
- The Jazz have assigned Alec Burks, Dante Exum, and Raul Neto to the D-League, according to a press release issued today by the team. It sounds like the trio will participate in practice with the Salt Lake City Stars, but won’t be on assignment for long. Meanwhile, Utah has also recalled Joel Bolomboy from the D-League.
- The Raptors have assigned Delon Wright to the D-League, the team announced today (via Twitter). That’s positive news for the 2015 first-round pick, who is recovering from a major shoulder injury. However, Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic notes (via Twitter) that Wright hasn’t yet been cleared for full practice, so he’s not close to seeing the court in Toronto yet.
- NBADL regulars Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet will join Wright on assignment, having also been sent to the D-League by the Raptors, per the team (Twitter link).
- The Celtics have recalled rookie guard Demetrius Jackson from the Maine Red Claws, according to the team (Twitter link). On his one-day D-League assignment, Jackson scored 26 points to help lead Boston’s affiliate to a Sunday victory over Fort Wayne.
- The Suns have sent Derrick Jones back to the D-League, the club announced today (via Twitter). Jones, who has barely seen the floor for Phoenix, has averaged 14.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG in 15 NBADL games this season.
- Out of action since Summer League, Delon Wright is creeping ever closer to making his return to action for the Raptors. Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News writes that the sophomore guard will begin playing 3-on-3 next week for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery. Sorensen writes that Wright may not see action until “possibly next month.”
- The Raptors and Celtics already had a tough road ahead of them in the Eastern Conference, but Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver writes that the recent acquisition of Kyle Korver could spur them to be bolder as the trade deadline approaches.
The Raptors own the second best record in the Eastern Conference, but executives around the league are skeptical that they can truly compete for a title, according to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. One executive told Ding that Toronto is “one-and-a-half” players away from being title contenders.
Skepticism surrounds the team’s title chances, but there’s no denying the franchise’s stranglehold on the division, as the Raptors are in great position to take home the Atlantic for the third consecutive year. Here’s more from the division:
- The Sixers waived Hollis Thompson on Wednesday, which left Nerlens Noel as the last player left on the roster from when The Process began, Jessica Camerato of Comcast Sportsnet writes. With Thompson off the team, first-round pick Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot will see more playing time. “Having Timmy now here and trying to play him more, you’re going to see an athleticism on the wings, you’re going to see a fearless mindset attacking the rim,” coach Brett Brown said. “He is an elite athlete if he is anything, and he’s different than all of our other wings. He really, really is different. I think his catch-shot game is coming around. I feel like [president of basketball operations] Bryan Colangelo did a really good job of selecting him.”
- Brandon Jennings said the Knicks need more accountability, adding that the team needs to get comfortable with each other, as Ian Begley of ESPN.com relays. “Guys are still together. I just wish we would hold guys, we would hold each other a little more accountable for what we do on the court,” Jennings said. “I definitely like confrontation. I definitely like being coached and being told when I’m doing something wrong. So those are things that I really think we need to start doing within each other and the team because that’s what good teams do.”
Here are Wednesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Lakers have re-assigned rookie big man Ivica Zubac to the D-League (Twitter link). Zubac will be in uniform for the L.A. D-Fenders tomorrow night for the team’s game against Iowa.
- The Pistons officially announced in a press release this afternoon that they’ve sent Henry Ellenson to the Grand Rapids Drive. As Keith Langlois of Pistons.com tweets, fellow rookie Michael Gbinije likely would’ve joined him, but he’s battling a forearm injury.
- Forward Troy Williams has been recalled by the Grizzlies from his assignment with the Iowa Energy, per a team release. Williams averaged 24.3 PPG in three games during his D-League stint, including 32 in 28 minutes on December 27.
- Richaun Holmes, who has completed and passed all the elements of the NBA’s concussion protocol, has been assigned to the D-League by the Sixers, the team announced today in a press release. While some NBADL rehab assignments don’t include game action, the Sixers suggest that Holmes is expected to suit up tonight for the Delaware 87ers.
- A pair of Nuggets rookies, Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez, have been assigned to the D-League, according to a press release. Despite having a fairly young roster, Denver hasn’t used the D-League much this season, since the team doesn’t have its own affiliate. Beasley and Hernangomez will join the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s NBADL squad.
- The Raptors have sent Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet back to the D-League, the team announced today (via Twitter). The duo has bounced back and forth between the NBA and NBADL all season — it’s the 13th D-League assignment for Caboclo and the ninth for VanVleet.
- Maurice Ndour is headed to the D-League, having been assigned to Westchester today by the Knicks (Twitter link). New York’s D-League affiliate is in action tonight against Grand Rapids, and Ndour is expected to suit up for the game.
- The Suns have assigned rookie forward Derrick Jones to the D-League, the team announced today (Twitter link). It’s the fourth NBADL assignment of the season for Jones, who has averaged 14.0 PPG and 6.1 RPG in 14 games for Northern Arizona.