Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry expressed a desire for unspecified changes after the club squandered a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead to the Pistons on Sunday night, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Lowry told Lewenberg that “Something gotta give, something gotta change” following the 102-101 home loss, adding that “I have an idea” what should change but wouldn’t disclose it publicly. Lowry, who can opt out and become a free agent this summer, added that “I’m starting to get worried” because “it’s not going the way we’re supposed to be going.” (Twitter links). Lowry’s comments reflect the feelings of backourt partner DeMar DeRozan, who said he would welcome some help for the stretch drive. The Raptors have been spinning their wheels lately, going 4-10 over the last 14 games while dropping to fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Their two best players are now putting the onus on the front office to make a bold move before the trade deadline. Lewenberg also tweets that it’s the first time this season that he’s sensed the locker room beginning to splinter.
In other developments around the Atlantic Division:
- Sixers forward Jahlil Okafor was not on the team plane during its flight to Charlotte, N.C., on Sunday, an indication that a trade could be imminent, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. A source told Pompey that a potential trade could not be finalized until Monday, when the league’s legal staff can review paperwork. The Pelicans, Bulls and Trail Blazers are apparently the potential trade partners for Okafor. The Nuggets and Sixers reportedly halted talks after Denver reached a trade agreement with the Blazers to acquire big man Mason Plumlee.
- The controversies swirling around the Knicks will make it more difficult for them to attract impact free agents, Al Iannazzone of Newsday argues. New York already struck out in its attempts to land top free agents in past summers and the circus-like atmosphere will only hinder its future efforts, especially since owner James Dolan seems committed to have team president Phil Jackson finish out his contract, Iannazzone continues. Rather than focusing on trying to trade Carmelo Anthony, Jackson should look to move pending free agents Derrick Rose and Brandon Jennings, as well as expendable big man Kyle O’Quinn, before the trade deadline, Iannazzone adds.
- Evaluating the pairing of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid remains a goal for the Sixers this season, Jonathan Tannenwald of the Philadelphia Inquirer relays. GM Bryan Colangelo indicated in a radio interview that it would aid the front office in deciding which moves to make this offseason, Tannenwald adds. “If it does play out where they both play together, and we have a good sample size, a body of work to base some further decisions on, it certainly will help us as we move into the draft and into free agency this summer,” Colangelo told 97.5 The Fanatic.