After getting two injured players – Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell – back on Sunday, the Raptors will get more reinforcements on Wednesday, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, who tweets that Marc Gasol is set to return to the team. The big man has been sidelined since December 18 due to a hamstring injury.
With Gasol healthy again, the Raptors will have a decision to make. Gasol was the team’s starting center before going on the injured list, but Serge Ibaka has been playing some of his best basketball in years during Gasol’s absence, averaging 18.1 PPG and 10.3 RPG with a .541 FG% and a .441 3PT% in 12 games as a starter.
According to Raptors lead assistant coach Adrian Griffin, head coach Nick Nurse will make the decision on who will start at center (Twitter link via Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun). Nurse likes to experiment with his lineups and may try different combinations when Gasol returns, but I’d be surprised if the former Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t reclaim his starting spot, either right away or down the road.
Gasol and Ibaka are on expiring contracts, so both veteran Raptors centers will be motivated to finish the season strong.
Here’s more from around the Atlantic:
- In an interesting piece for ESPN.com, Malika Andrews of ESPN.com examines how DeAndre Jordan‘s gregarious personality and positive locker-room presence factored into the Nets‘ decision to invest $40MM in him this past summer. “We knew we were wading through some uncharted waters where we’ve never been before — where expectations are a little bit bigger,” GM Sean Marks said. “To have a guy like DJ, who can hopefully keep the mood light behind the scenes is — it’s really important.”
- Within Andrews’ article, Marks acknowledged that the Nets expect to become a taxpaying team next season. The GM suggested that Brooklyn’s investment in Jordan was related to the fact that 2019 was one of the last opportunities the club will have for a while to use cap room. “We’re going to be a tax team,” Marks said. “We are married to that. There’s a limited amount of times and ways you can continue to add to your team. You better do it now. You’re gearing up for a run.”
- Derek Bodner and Rich Hofmann of The Athletic list 19 potential trade targets for the Sixers at the deadline, including some backup fours, catch-and-shoot players, and combo guards. Meanwhile, David Aldridge of The Athletic makes the case for why acquiring another point guard should be the 76ers’ top priority in trade talks.