Aron Baynes

Aron Baynes Could Miss Next Season

Free agent center Aron Baynes could miss next season due to a neck injury, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Baynes, who played for the Raptors last season, has severe nerve damage in his neck and is currently in the hospital, says Charania. Baynes, a member of the Australian national team that took the bronze medal at the Olympics, initially injured his neck in a victory over Italy. He suffered a more significant injury slipping in the team bathroom.

The Raptors waived Baynes on Wednesday before his $7.35MM salary for 2021/22 would’ve become fully guaranteed.

Baynes signed a two-year contract with the Raptors during the 2020 offseason after enjoying a career year in Phoenix. He averaged 6.1 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 53 games (18.5 MPG) with Toronto and his shooting percentages (.441/.262/.707) were significantly below his career rates.

However, Baynes was expected to attract interest in the open market from teams looking to add to their frontcourt depth.

Raptors Waive Aron Baynes

The Raptors have issued a press release announcing that they’ve officially waived veteran center Aron Baynes.

The move had been expected, since Baynes’ $7.35MM salary for 2021/22 would’ve become fully guaranteed if Toronto had kept him on the roster. Instead, the Raptors will clear that money from their books, creating some additional cap flexibility for the coming season.

Baynes, who signed a two-year contract with the Raptors during the 2020 offseason after enjoying a career year in Phoenix, was never a great fit with his new team. He averaged a modest 6.1 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 53 games (18.5 MPG) and his shooting percentages (.441/.262/.707) were significantly below his career rates.

While Baynes didn’t have a great year with Toronto, he should draw interest from teams in need of frontcourt depth. He’ll likely be available at a more team-friendly rate once he clears waivers.

The Raptors, meanwhile, have now waived four players – Baynes, Rodney Hood, DeAndre’ Bembry, and Paul Watson – who were on non-guaranteed contracts this week. The club, which is still working on the terms of the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade with Miami, will have a few bench spots to fill on its 2021/22 roster.

Raptors Waive Hood, Bembry, Watson

The Raptors have waived DeAndre’ Bembry, Rodney Hood, and Paul Watson, according to a team press release. All three players had non-guaranteed contracts for the 2021/22 season.

According to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports, the Raptors had always planned to waive Hood, who was acquired as part of the team’s trade of Gary Trent for Norman Powell, unless they could use his contract as filler in another trade. Lewenberg also suggests the decisions to waive Watson and Bembry indicate the team is either looking to create added cap flexibility or will simply go elsewhere with its end-of-bench roster spots.

Hood has been a productive player since being drafted 23rd in the 2014 draft by the Jazz, but staying healthy has been a challenge for the 6’7 lefty. Hood fractured his hand after coming over to Toronto, putting an early end on the least productive season of his career.

As we relayed earlier today, Hood already has a deal lined up with the Bucks, who are looking to add more shooting for next year’s playoff run.

In a separate tweet, Lewenberg reports that Toronto’s plan is to waive backup center Aron Baynes before his guarantee deadline tomorrow unless his money is needed in trades, and will retain Chris Boucher through his Sunday guarantee date.

Baynes came over as a free agent in the hopes that he would help stabilize the center position upon the departure of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, but his lone year with the Raptors was a disappointment, with the 34-year-old Australian unable to carve out a role for himself. Boucher, meanwhile, has been a massive development success for the Raptors, turning into a solid rim-protector and three-point shooter in his fourth season.

Trade Rumors: Simmons, Baynes, Lakers, Cash

David Aldridge of The Athletic is the latest reporter to confirm that the Sixers‘ asking price for Ben Simmons remains “sky high.” According to Aldridge, the 76ers are seeking a minimum of two future first-round picks, two first-round pick swaps, and an All-Star level player in most of their discussions about Simmons. A handful of other reports within the last week have passed along details on what kind of packages Philadelphia sought from Toronto, San Antonio, and Golden State for Simmons.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA, with free agency about to begin:

  • The Raptors are exploring the trade market for center Aron Baynes, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Baynes has a non-guaranteed $7.35MM salary for 2021/22 and seems unlikely to return to Toronto. If the team doesn’t find a taker on the trade market, he’s a candidate to be released.
  • In an in-depth look at how the Lakers‘ acquisition of Russell Westbrook came about, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne shares several fascinating tidbits, including the fact that Westbrook called Kawhi Leonard in 2019 to talk about playing together in Los Angeles. According to Shelburne, the Lakers had been prepared to move forward on a Buddy Hield acquisition before the opportunity to land Westbrook arose.
  • Within his recap of last week’s draft activity, John Hollinger of The Athletic provides a housekeeping notes on trades, writing that the Trail Blazers sent $2MM in cash to the Pelicans as part of their trade for the No. 43 pick, while the Thunder sent $2MM in cash to the Jazz in the Derrick Favors trade.

And-Ones: Australian Olympic Team, James, Missia-Dio, Spurs

Numerous current NBA players were named to the Australian national team’s final 12-man roster for the Olympics, ESPN’s Olgun Uluc tweets. The team is headlined by Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, Aron Baynes, Matisse Thybulle, Dante Exum and Josh Green.

Projected lottery pick Josh Giddey is not on the 12-man roster but has been named as one of three replacement players, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. Giddey will travel to Las Vegas for Australia’s exhibition games, Givony adds. He’s currently rated No. 9 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • LeBron James passed on the Olympics this year and it’s unlikely he’ll play for Team USA again, managing director Jerry Colangelo said on ESPN’s Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin radio show (video link). “LeBron made choices these last couple of Olympics not to participate because he’s got a lot of things going on in his life,” Colangelo said. “So he put in his time, he made a contribution that is appreciated, but I think his time is over.” James’ last Olympic appearance came during the 2012 London Games.
  • Belgian forward Nathan Missia-Dio became the ninth player to sign with Overtime Elite, according to a league press release. The new development league will begin play in September. Missia-Dio, a 6’6” forward, played two seasons for Espoirs Limoges in France’s Elite U21 League. He is ranked 13th by Eurospects.com among international prospects born in 2004.
  • The Spurs are seeking a new naming-rights sponsor for their arena, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Longtime sponsor AT&T won’t renew its current deal, which expires in the fall of 2022. AT&T has also sold off its 7.23% share of the team. Front Office Sports first reported the news.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Atlantic Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Atlantic Division:

Bruce Brown, Nets, 24, SG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.92MM deal in 2018

The Pistons uncovered a diamond in the rough when they selected Brown with the 42nd overall pick in 2018. Brown quickly became a starter due to his defensive prowess, so it was surprising when Detroit’s new GM Troy Weaver dealt him in the off-season. He’s become an increasingly important role player on the star-laden Nets with his all-around contributions.

In the last six games prior to the All-Star break, Brown averaged 18 PPG, 6 RPG and 3 APG. He becomes a restricted free agent after the season – if he receives an offer sheet, can Brooklyn afford to keep him given all its salary commitments? The way Brown is playing, the Nets can’t afford to let him go.

Nerlens Noel, Knicks, 26, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $5MM deal in 2020

The Knicks have displayed dramatic improvement in part because players have settled into their roles. No one needed to tell Noel that he’d be the fifth option on the offensive end when he signed a one-year deal in the fall. The sixth pick in the 2013 draft had already carved a niche in the league as a post defender and rebounder.

With his team’s other centers, Mitchell Robinson and Taj Gibson, sidelined prior to the break, coach Tom Thibodeau relied heavily on Noel to patrol the middle. Noel averaged 40 MPG in the last four games prior to the break and the Knicks won three of them. Noel ranks fourth in the league in blocks despite playing just 22.2 MPG. He’ll continue to be valued for his strengths when he enters the free agent market again this summer.

Aron Baynes, Raptors, 34, C (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $14.35MM deal in 2020

The Raptors sit three games below .500 and are contemplating whether to trade long-time star Kyle Lowry. A big reason for their first-half struggles was the poor play of their middle men. Baynes seemed like a quality addition coming off a season with the Suns in which he posted career highs in points, rebounds and assists. It hasn’t worked out that way. Among qualified centers, Baynes ranks dead last – 62nd overall – in ESPN’s PER calculations.

The good news for the Raptors is that Baynes’ $7.35MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed. He’s posted best numbers the last few games but it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Baynes will ever see that money.

Jeff Teague, Celtics, 32, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

Teague started on some good teams in Atlanta earlier in his career but he’s bounced around the league the last few seasons. Seeking a chance to play for a contender, Teague signed a veteran’s minimum deal with Boston to provide insurance behind Kemba Walker and his gimpy knees. He’s generally been a non-factor, though he perked up during the Celtics’ four-game winning streak heading into the break. With Marcus Smart returning to action and rookie Payton Pritchard earning steady minutes, Teague will likely find himself scrounging for playing time during the second half of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raptors Notes: Powell, Baynes, Lowry, Cumberland

If the Raptors are buyers at the trade deadline, the contracts of Patrick McCawAron Baynes, Stanley Johnson and Norman Powell are the ones most likely to be included in a deal for an impact player, according to The Athletic’s Eric Koreen. Powell, who holds an $11.6MM option on his contract for next season, and Kyle Lowry ($30.5MM expiring contract) are the players most likely to be traded if Toronto goes into sell mode. However, it’s likely that the team values Powell’s Bird rights to the point where it would take a very strong offer to part with the scoring wing, Koreen speculates.

We have more on the Raptors:

  • The success of smaller lineups could alter the front office’s approach to the trade market, Blake Murphy of The Athletic notes. The team has gotten positive results by using OG Anunoby as the de facto starting center and moving Baynes to the bench. That could result in expanding its options beyond an upgrade at center, rather than overpaying a potential trade partner for a big man.
  • Lowry deserves to finish out the season, if not his career, with the Raptors, Scott Stinson of The National Post opines. He’s been the only constant in the team’s sustained period of success and his days with the franchise shouldn’t end in pursuit of assets.
  • The club’s G League team, Raptors 905, has traded center Dewan Hernandez to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers for guard Jarron Cumberland, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Raptors 905 is also receiving Stockton’s original second-round pick in the 2021/22 G League Draft via Canton. Hernandez, 24, played six games with Toronto last season. The undrafted Cumberland played four college seasons with Cincinnati.
  • In case you missed it, the Raptors have signed big man Donta Hall to a 10-day contract.

And-Ones: Australia, Evans, Masks, Free Agency

Ben Simmons heads the list of players named by Basketball Australia to the country’s preliminary Olympic squad, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Among some of the other NBA notables on the 24-player list are Aron Baynes, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum, Matisse Thybulle, Patty Mills, Josh Green, Thon Maker and Matthew Dellavedova. The squad will have to be pared to 12 players for the Olympic tournament in Tokyo this summer.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The Erie BayHawks waived guard Jacob Evans to make room for forward Jordan Bell, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Bell was released from his 10-day contract with the Wizards over the weekend. Evans played for the Warriors and Timberwolves the past two seasons.
  • The NBA will soon require players to wear KN95 or KF94 masks on the bench and all other areas where masks are necessary, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. The new rule will go into effect over the next week. Starting with games on Friday, the NBA will more strictly enforce current rules regarding the use of face masks, Bontemps adds.
  • The Athletic trio of James Edwards III (Pistons), Mike Vorkunov (Knicks) and Chris Kirschner (Hawks) take a closer look at their teams’ free agent moves during the offseason, how well those players have worked out so far, and what those franchises could have done differently.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, D’Antoni, Milton, Baynes

James Harden looked like the star the Nets were expecting as he made his debut with the team Saturday night, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Harden didn’t get to practice with his new Brooklyn teammates because the four-team trade wasn’t finalized until shortly before game time, but he still posted a 32-point triple-double in a win over Orlando.

A number of teams were rumored to be pursuing Harden, but the Nets were his first choice when he made a trade request to Rockets management. Reuniting with Kevin Durant was part of the reason, but he also wanted to rejoin former Houston coach Mike D’Antoni, who is now an assistant in Brooklyn.

“When (ex-Rockets general manager Daryl Morey) and Mike left, I sat back and reevaluated everything. Those are two guys I was very comfortable with and the decision-making for the organization,” Harden said. “Once they left, I had to figure out is this organization going into a rebuilt stage or were they still trying to compete at the highest level.

“(D’Antoni) was a part of it. Mike’s an unbelievable coach. He’s been doing it for a very, very long time. Obviously Mike is a factor. Being comfortable with him being comfortable with Kevin, knowing (Kyrie Irving), just those four pieces right there made it easy. Obviously them being in Brooklyn, for me it was a no-brainer.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers were also in the running for Harden, and they believed they were so close to a deal that the agents for Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle informed them of the pending trade, Lewis adds in the same story. But the Rockets never called the Sixers back after getting the offer from the Nets, reportedly because Houston owner Tilman Fertitta was determined not to send his star player to Morey.
  • Sixers guard Shake Milton started the final 32 games of last season, including the playoffs, but he seems better suited to provide instant offense as a sixth man, which is his role under new coach Doc Rivers, according to Keith Pompey of The Phildelphia Inquirer“I just want to do whatever is best for the team,” Milton said. “Whatever helps the team win, it really doesn’t matter if I’m starting or not. It’s an opportunity. I have a really good opportunity coming off the bench right now.”
  • Free agent addition Aron Baynes is only seeing about 16 minutes per night for the Raptors, but coach Nick Nurse plans to expand his role, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.” We’re gonna play Aron, we’re gonna try to get some extended minutes out of him,” Nurse said. “I know we’re not getting very much out of him at this point. We read the game … and his stint is gonna last as long as things are going well or he’s impacting well.”

Raptors Notes: Lineup Changes, Powell, Flynn, Attendance

The smaller lineups that Raptors coach Nick Nurse experimented with Friday could become permanent, writes Steven Loung of Sportsnet. Toronto picked up just its second win of the season as center Alex Len started for the first time since joining the team, taking the place of Aron Baynes. However most of the playing time in the middle went to Chris Boucher, with OG Anunoby filling in there as well.

Baynes has been “underachieving” since signing with the Raptors in the offseason, according to Loung. The veteran center is averaging just 5.3 points and 5.7 rebounds through his first seven games. Nurse liked how the smaller group responded and indicated that he may stick with it.

“I think the biggest thing is playing small, it does a number of things for us, but the biggest thing it does for us is it enables us to switch all the pick-and-rolls which, late in games, that’s going down pretty much at both ends, it’s pick-and-roll basketball,” Nurse said. “And then secondly, it almost puts OG and Pascal (Siakam) in the handling and screening situations, which, you know, OG is a good screener and finisher in that stuff.”

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Friday marked the second start of the season for shooting guard Norman Powell, Loung adds in the same story. Powell scored 22 points while filling in for Kyle Lowry, who missed the game for personal reasons. “Yeah, I would. I would,” Nurse responded when asked whether he would consider making Powell a full-time starter. “He’s had two really good games as a starter and I would hate to count how many not-so-good games coming off the bench. So I would consider that at this point.”
  • Lowry’s absence gave rookie point guard Malachi Flynn his first chance at extended playing time, notes Chris O’Leary of NBA.com. Flynn, who showed promise during the preseason, responded with 12 points, five rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. “I’m going to stay confident regardless, but having a game like this definitely helps,” Flynn said. “So just continue to have that mindset of being confident and hopefully have more games like this.” 
  • The Raptors won’t have fans at their temporary home in Tampa, Florida, until at least February 5, according to The Associated Press. Vinik Sports Group, which owns Amalie Arena, made the announcement today because COVID-19 cases in the region have “risen sharply.”