Eastern Notes: Watanabe, Boucher, Bassey, Cavaliers, Simmons

The Raptors are expecting more out of 26-year-old forward Yuta Watanabe this fall, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. Watanabe recently competed in the Olympics with Japan, learning to become more aggressive on the offensive end during his time in Tokyo.

“With the international team, I had to be that aggressive every time I touched the ball … so that was a lot different,” he explained. “I understand that my role is not going to be like that with the Raptors, but still … I need to be more aggressive because it makes it a lot easier for my teammates to score. Or I can draw attention, I can pass the ball and they can make shots.

“So definitely, I need to be more aggressive to help my teammates and help my team.”

Watanabe saw his two-way contract converted into a standard deal last April. He’ll be competing for a roster spot during Toronto’s preseason with Freddie Gillespie, Sam Dekker and others this month.

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Speaking of the Raptors, big man Chris Boucher recently sustained a dislocated finger, the team announced. Boucher will miss the club’s first preseason game against the Sixers on Monday. He’s coming off the best season of his four-year career, averaging 13.6 points and 6.7 rebounds in 24.2 minutes per contest.
  • Sixers rookie Charles Bassey won’t travel with the team for its game against Toronto, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Bassey signed a contract last week with the organization but still needs to finalize his work visa, Mizell notes.
  • The Cavaliers will be interested in acquiring disgruntled Sixers star Ben Simmons for as long as he’s available, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets. Cleveland could theoretically offload one of Collin Sexton or Darius Garland in any deal, combining that player with Kevin Love‘s contract to match salaries. The club could also try to entice a third team to join any proposal.
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