Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Randle, Johnson, Payne

34-year-old Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry is hoping to ink at least a two-year, $50MM contract this summer, no matter where he lands after the trade deadline, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Heat and the Sixers, at present, are the two clubs most often connected to Lowry in trade chatter. Though Lowry is not eligible for an in-season contract extension, he may be hoping for a wink-wink understanding from whichever team deals for him. Nothing could be officially agreed upon until free agency commences this summer.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that the Raptors are engaged in potential trade conversations for both Lowry and Toronto shooting guard Norman Powell, and that these chats may last up till the Thursday trade deadline. Woj adds that the 76ers are looking at other guard options beyond Lowry or Powell, including Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball and injured Thunder guard George Hill.

The Raptors, losers of nine straight, appear fairly set on dealing Powell, rival team executives have relayed to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter). Powell has an $11.6MM player option for the 2021/22 season that he has outperformed with his play this season.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • At the end of a 101-100 overtime defeat to the Sixers, Knicks All-Star forward Julius Randle got into a verbal altercation with a referee. The league fined Randle $15K for the incident, according to an official NBA press release.
  • Nets reserve guard Tyler Johnson could see expanded minutes with All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and role-playing guards Landry Shamet and Spencer Dinwiddie all unavailable, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. All-Star guard James Harden, who was listed as questionable by Lewis with a neck injury, is playing through it to thrilling effect tonight against the Trail Blazers, per Malika Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link). “[Head coach Steve Nash] and I haven’t really talked about minutes per se, but it’s a game-to-game basis,” Johnson said earlier this evening. “I think right now during this little stretch while we’ve got some guys out, we don’t fully know what it is we’re going to do right away.
  • Knicks assistant coach Kenny Payne could be a leading contender for the newly-vacant DePaul University men’s basketball head coaching gig, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “I think all my staff is terrific and they’ll be recognized,” head coach Tom Thibodeau raved. “So anytime someone has an opportunity to advance we’ll certainly allow them to interview.” Popper adds that Payne is not the only Knicks assistant coach up for a potential new opportunity as a college head coach, as Johnnie Bryant may be under consideration as Utah’s new head coach, and Mike Woodson may be up for the opening in Indiana.
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