Raptors Notes: Boucher, Durant, Hines

With a new fully guaranteed three-year, $35MM contract in hand, Raptors big man Chris Boucher admitted to reporters on Thursday that he wasn’t expecting his free agency to play out this way last fall when he got off to an extremely slow start to the season, averaging 5.9 PPG on .381/.196/.667 shooting in his first 20 games.

“(After) the first 20 games? No, there’s no way,” Boucher said, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. “I mean, to be honest with you, me and (trainer) Ibrahim (Appiah) joke about that all the time. We were saying, ‘We’re probably gonna have to pack our bags and stuff’ because it didn’t look too nice at the beginning and to be honest with you … I was like, ‘I’m not playing well. I might not get traded but I might get waived or whatever,’ so that’s how we were taking it.”

After bouncing back and finishing the season strong, Boucher received offers from other teams during his first foray into unrestricted free agency. The Celtics, Bucks, Nets, and Bulls were reportedly among the clubs to express interest. But Boucher suggested on Thursday that he never seriously considered leaving Toronto.

“Hearing from other teams … was a good thing for me,” Boucher said. “But like I said, it doesn’t stop there. You know, I wanted to be comfortable, you play your best basketball when you feel like you’re at home, when you feel like you know everything, and things are going smooth and so I don’t think I would have felt that more appreciated or felt like home anywhere else.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Eric Koreen and Alex Schiffer of The Athletic, representing the Raptors’ and Nets‘ front offices, engaged in mock trade negotiations on a potential Kevin Durant trade, as Koreen explores whether there’s a way to get Durant to Toronto in a deal that meets Brooklyn’s asking price without including Scottie Barnes. Schiffer is amenable to a hypothetical package of Pascal Siakam, Gary Trent, Precious Achiuwa, three unprotected first-rounders, and a pick swap in exchange for Durant and Seth Curry.
  • Veteran player development coach Rico Hines has left the Kings to join the Raptors, as Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee writes. Hines confirmed the move in an Instagram post after previously bidding farewell to Kings fans in another post on Instagram. Hines spent the last three seasons working under Luke Walton and Alvin Gentry in Sacramento.
  • The Raptors have a strong track record of exceeding expectations and making good year-over-year progress, but that forward progress is never guaranteed, according to Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star, who weighs whether it makes sense for the team to simply count on internal improvement from the current core and considers the risks of that approach.
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