Bobby Webster

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Robinson, Ibaka, Toppin

Nets coach Steve Nash contends that the schedule for All-Star forward Kevin Durant‘s return from his COVID-19 protocol-necessitated quarantining is a “moving target,” according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. On Tuesday, Durant commenced his quarantine, per NBA health and safety protocols, after being exposed to someone who tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The belief was that the quarantine would last seven days.

“My understanding is that it is a quarantine, so I don’t think there will be any on-court activity,” Nash said. “There’s negative tests, days from the contact tracing and all sorts of factors that go into it. So, I don’t really have an answer yet on how long.” The Nets crushed the Jazz 130-96 in their first test without Durant.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has been improving his efforts to avoid foul calls, Greg Joyce of the New York Post reports. “It’s actually, like, nobody wants to get yelled at by the coaches, so I’ve been just trying to maintain that the best way that I can,” Robinson said. “I’ve been working on it.” The young big man is averaging 3.0 fouls per game in 29.6 MPG, a marked improvement over his 3.2 fouls in 23.1 MPG during the 2019/20 season.
  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster apparently frustrated free agent center/power forward Serge Ibaka when the club offered him a number below what he was hoping for in an attempt to leave some cap space to re-sign starting center Marc Gasol, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Toronto bumped its one-year offer from $12MM to $14MM, but Ibaka apparently also did not want to continue being a backup to Gasol. Both players wound up departing for cheaper deals with Los Angeles title contenders, and the 1-5 (as of this writing) Raptors appear to be missing the two-way skill set of their championship frontcourt tandem.
  • Following an evaluation yesterday, Knicks power forward Obi Toppin will begin running and jumping as he continues to rehabilitate from a right calf strain, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic (Twitter link). After this, Toppin will subsequently move on to on-court workouts. The rookie hurt the calf in the club’s December 23 opening night bout against the Pacers. “He’s making good progress and we just have to be patient,” new head coach Tom Thibodeau said.

Raptors Notes: Anunoby, Webster, Ujiri, Lowry

Speaking today to reporters, including Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press (Twitter link), Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said that veteran centers Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol were “incredible for us.” However, Toronto’s long-term plans meant that the team was “limited in terms and years” when it came to making Ibaka and Gasol contract offers.

The Raptors’ limitations stem from the club’s desire to maintain as much cap flexibility as possible for the 2021 offseason. As such, it remains to be seen whether or not forward OG Anunoby will receive a contract extension before the December 21 deadline. A new contract for Anunoby, which would begin in 2021/22, would cut into Toronto’s cap room if the starting salary on that new deal exceeds his cap hold as a restricted free agent ($11.6MM).

I think there are talks to be had,” Ujiri said today, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). “They know of the abilities that we want, so we’ll keep having those conversations. The most important thing is we’re excited about OG.”

Anunoby, who spoke to reporters on Friday, confirmed that his agent was engaged in discussions with the Raptors about a possible extension, suggesting he’d have a better idea closer to the December 21 deadline whether a new deal is a realistic possibility (Twitter link via Lewenberg).

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Ujiri suggested today that the club has either completed or is close to finalizing extensions for most of his front office staffers, including general manager Bobby Webster (Twitter links via Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun and Blake Murphy of The Athletic). Ujiri said there’s been too much going on to focus on his own extension yet, but that he’ll go into those talks with a “very positive mind and attitude” and hopes to get something done (Twitter link via Lewenberg).
  • Ujiri isn’t ready to say one way or the other whether the Raptors will be able to host fans at their Tampa arena this season, noting that he has a meeting this afternoon to discuss the possibility (Twitter link via Wolstat).
  • Asked about the possibility of Kyle Lowry retiring as a Raptor, Ujiri referred to the veteran point guard as a future Hall-of-Famer, suggesting the team would be happy to continue its union with Lowry beyond 2021. He’s been incredibly respectful to the organization and we will have that same respect to Kyle anytime, everyday,” Ujiri said (Twitter link via Lewenberg).
  • The Raptors announced a series of coaching hires and promotions in a Friday press release, including Chris Finch and Jama Mahlalela as assistants on Nick Nurse‘s staff and Patrick Mutombo as the head coach of the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate.

Raptors Notes: Training Camp, Tampa, Roster Battles, Webster

Several Raptors role players will have something to prove starting in starting camp this month. Doug Smith of the Toronto Star takes a look at how rotation contributors like OG Anunoby, Patrick McCaw, Norman Powell, Chris Boucher and Matt Thomas can take leaps in their careers this season.

Though Anunoby is eligible for an extension now, Smith expects the Raptors to let him enter restricted free agency in 2021 to keep their books as clean as possible next offseason in the hopes of making an addition from a star-studded 2021 free agent class.

There’s more out of Toronto-by-way-of-Tampa:

  • The Raptors traveled to their 2020/21 season home court in Tampa on Monday, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Lewenberg notes that Raptors players must test negative 3-4 times for COVID-19 ahead of their individual workouts. Toronto’s first team practice is set for Sunday, December 6, at Saint Leo University.
  • David Aldridge and Blake Murphy of The Athletic take a deep dive into the Raptors’ temporary relocation down south. “Obviously, we miss the city, but I think we’ve gotta be excited about what’s ahead of us,” guard Fred VanVleet said.
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic assesses the competition for opening-night Raptors roster spots heading into the the team’s training camp this season.
  • Raptors general manager Bobby Webster, in the final season of his current contract, continues to discuss an extension with team ownership, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter link). Webster noted that conversations about an extension have been ongoing.

Atlantic Notes: Ibaka, Raptors, VanVleet, Celtics

Rockets superstar James Harden is not the only former Thunder teammate of Kevin Durant that the Nets have interest in adding, according to Mike Mazzeo of Forbes. Durant has also apparently tried to recruit power forward/center Serge Ibaka.

Though Ibaka earned $23.3MM in his final year with the Raptors, he may be interested in joining a contender for the $9.2M non-taxpayer mid-level exception, per Ian Begley of SNY. Begley notes that Ibaka may be anticipating offers in the territory of $12-15MM from teams with available cap space. Both figures may be out of the Nets’ range, as Brooklyn is expected to be limited to the $5.7MM taxpayer MLE in free agency.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Speaking of the Raptors, there is still no resolution as to where Toronto will play during the 2020/21 season, but Michael Grange of Sportsnet tweets that the club will be holding a Los Angeles-based team mini-camp from November 20-25.
  • Raptors general manager Bobby Webster has stressed the team’s continued interest in re-signing unrestricted free agent guard Fred VanVleet, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. “He’s our top priority,” Webster said. “Our biggest priority for the offseason is bringing him back.” Toronto is also expected to have interest in bringing back Ibaka.
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer mentioned on today’s installment of The Ringer NBA Show podcast that there was “chatter” about the Celtics offering the expiring contract of oft-injured forward Gordon Hayward and the team’s three first-round picks in the 2020 draft to the Pelicans in exchange for guard Jrue Holiday (hat tip to RealGM). Holiday was ultimately traded to the Bucks.

Tanenbaum Promises To Extend Ujiri’s Contract

Raptors president Masai Ujiri would get plenty of offers around the league if he became available. The chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, Larry Tanenbaum, vows to not let that happen, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star reports.

Tanenbaum said he’ll eventually reach an extension with Ujiri, who has a year remaining on his contract.

The Raptors extended coach Nick Nurse’s contract after Toronto was eliminated from the postseason. They’re also close to an extension agreement with GM Bobby Webster, who is also under contract through next season.

“We have time and we’re going to work through the process in the right time and the right way, I know that for sure,” Tanenbaum said.

Once a deal is reached with Webster, Tanenbaum will turn his attention toward locking up Ujiri to a multi-year extension.

“Masai is getting (extensions) done (with Nurse and Webster) and we, too, will get it done,” Tanenbaum said.

Ujiri and Webster have important roster decisions to make this offseason with Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka headed to unrestricted free agency and OG Anunoby eligible for a rookie scale extension.

Raptors Notes: Ujiri, Webster, VanVleet, Ibaka, Gasol

The “strong rumble” in the Walt Disney World bubble was that the Raptors were nearing new long-term extensions for president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, general manager Bobby Webster, and head coach Nick Nurse, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Toronto announced a multiyear extension for Nurse earlier this week, but Ujiri told reporters today that he hasn’t engaged in contract discussions with Raptors ownership yet. As Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays (via Twitter), Ujiri said he wanted to prioritize new deals for his leadership team, including Nurse and Webster. He said an extension for Webster is “close,” per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As for his own contract, Ujiri offered the following assessment, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link): I think it will come. When it comes we’ll deal with it face on. But as for now I’m focused on other things. When that time comes I will deal with it.”

Ujiri and Webster have one year remaining on their current contracts.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Re-signing unrestricted free agent Fred VanVleet will be a “big-time priority” for the Raptors this offseason, Ujiri said today (Twitter link via Murphy). He added that the club has a good sense of where its free agents still have room to grow or develop.
  • Ujiri also called free agent big men Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol priorities for the Raptors, though he acknowledged the challenges inherent in balancing the club’s short-term interests and long-term flexibility (Twitter link via Lewenberg). Toronto is expected to try to maximize its cap flexibility for the summer of 2021 as best it can.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic ranks the players on the Raptors’ roster by trade value, starting with Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby.
  • In case you missed it, we explained on Wednesday how Siakam’s All-NBA Second Team berth will affect the forward’s earnings going forward. Because Siakam’s extension will begin at 28% of the 2020/21 cap instead of 25%, the Raptors now project to have about $3.5MM less cap space during the summer of 2021, assuming the cap for ’20/21 stays the same as in ’19/20.

Eastern Notes: Bertans, Vaughn, Nurse, Antetokounmpo

Wizards forward Davis Bertans‘ decision to pass on the restart was driven by free agency, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Bertans made his comments on the ‘Basketball Network’ show on YouTube.

“I think there were multiple reasons,” the Wizards’ sharpshooter said. “Of course, one of the main ones I guess is that I was an upcoming free agent and we were put in a position as very unlikely to make the playoffs. To risk an injury after not playing basketball and not really working out for almost two months [was not smart]. That was the main reason.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Nets are hopeful that Jacques Vaughn will remain on Steve Nash’s staff even though they passed on making him the permanent head coach, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Vaughn has been identified is a candidate for the Pacers coaching job. The Rockets are also reportedly interested, though the Nets would have to grant those teams permission to interview him.
  • Handing coach Nick Nurse an extension was an important first step during a tricky offseason for the Raptors, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Canada opines. The Raptors need to position themselves for the summer of 2021, when they could chase top free agents. The next step this offseason would be to reach extension agreements with team president Masai Ujiri and GM Bobby Webster, Lewenberg adds. Details of Nurse’s multiyear extension can be found here.
  • The safest bet regarding Giannis Antetokounmpo is that he stays put with the Bucks, either through a Designated Veteran Extension this offseason or re-signing on a shorter deal next year, according to Danny Leroux of The Athletic. Leroux looks at all the options and possibilities regarding Antetokounmpo’s future in the wake of the Bucks’ surprisingly early playoff exit.
  • The Raptors will have approximately $45MM to spend on their own free agents or using the mid-level exception before going into the luxury tax, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Murphy takes a closer look at the Raptors’ balance sheet and impending decisions, including Fred VanVleet‘s free agency.

Joe Dumars Won’t Be A Candidate In Kings’ Front Office Search

Last week’s shakeup left Joe Dumars in charge of the Kings‘ front office, but that’s not a role he wants to keep long-term, according to Sam Amick and Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Dumars has no interest in remaining Sacramento’s head of basketball operations and will not be a candidate in the upcoming search, the authors report. However, he will be included in the hiring process and will interview candidates along with owner Vivek Ranadive. The new GM will have full control of roster moves and will report directly to Ranadive, rather than Dumars.

The Kings haven’t determined what Dumars’ role with the franchise will be once a new GM is selected, which could become a “problematic component,” Amick and Charania add. There’s no timeline to fill the opening, so Dumars and assistant GM Ken Catanella could be making the draft and free agency decisions in October.

Mike Forde of Sportsology is expected to be the leader in the search for GM candidates. He formerly served as senior manager for Chelsea’s soccer franchise in the English Premier League, and his web site lists the Clippers, Spurs, Sixers and Nets as clients. He also worked as an adviser for the Wizards last spring after they fired Ernie Grunfeld as president of basketball operations.

When he hired Dumars, Ranadive reportedly envisioned a power-sharing arrangement in the front office with former GM Vlade Divac. However, Divac wasn’t willing to accept that and opted to resign, followed a day later by assistant GM Peja Stojakovic.

The authors note there is “significant interest” in the position around the league, despite concerns about what Dumars’ ultimate role might be. “A swell of support” has emerged for Knicks GM Scott Perry, who briefly served as VP of basketball operations in Sacramento before leaving for New York. Sources claim Ranadive and Perry are still on good terms and have remained in touch in the nearly three years since Perry’s departure.

Perry helped the Kings get an individual workout with De’Aaron Fox before the 2017 draft and improved the organization’s reputation through his close relationships with agents and executives. Perry still has a year left on his contract, but a source tells the authors he would be interested in returning to Sacramento as long as he’s guaranteed the final decision on personnel moves. The Kings would have to request permission from the Knicks to talk to Perry, which sources tell Amick and Charania they hadn’t done as of Tuesday night.

The authors list Clippers assistant GMs Mark Hughes and Trent Redden as other candidates to watch, along with Raptors GM Bobby Webster, Celtics VP of basketball operations Mike Zarren, Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations Trajan Langdon, Timberwolves executive VP of basketball operations Sachin Gupta, Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry, and Rockets assistant GM Eli Witus.

Latest On Kings’ GM Search

The Kings appear likely to hire an executive search firm to help them find a new permanent general manager following Vlade Divac‘s departure, league sources tell Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. However, according to Anderson, several names have already been connected to the position as possible targets for Saramento.

Anderson identifies Spurs VP of basketball operations Brent Barry, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster, Knicks GM Scott Perry, Celtics assistant GM Mike Zarren, Heat assistant GM Adam Simon, and Clippers assistant GM Trent Redden as executives who may be on the Kings’ preliminary list of candidates.

Sean Cunningham of ABC10, who singled out many of those same execs as ones to watch, mentioned veteran agent Bill Duffy as another possibility (Twitter link). However, Duffy indicated today that he currently has no plans to follow in the footsteps of Bob Myers, Leon Rose, and other agents who have made the move to a team’s front office.

“There’s no truth to me joining an NBA organization,” Duffy told Jason Jones and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). “I’m fully committed to my clients and their success.”

Joe Dumars, who is the Kings’ interim head of basketball operations, will be involved in the search for a new GM, though team owner Vivek Ranadive and COO Matina Kolokotronis are “viewed as the ultimate decision makers,” Anderson writes.

Anderson also notes that it will be interesting to see what sort of role Dumars ultimately retains in the front office, since Divac’s departure stemmed from Ranadive’s desire to have the former Pistons GM take on a larger role and to have the final say on the roster. Sources tell Anderson that some qualified candidates may be reluctant to fill Sacramento’s GM opening if it doesn’t come with full control over the roster.

Raptors Notes: Nurse, Draft, Campus, Restart

Raptors general manager Bobby Webster has lauded 2019/20 Coach Of The Year candidate Nick Nurse without expressly defining a timeline for Nurse’s potential contract extension.

“Nick obviously has done an incredible job for us and those (types) of conversations are always top of mind for us,” Webster said, per Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet (Twitter link).

Nurse inked a three-year, $10MM deal with the Raptors in 2018 that will keep him on the sidelines through the 2020/21 NBA season. During his first year as head coach, the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Finals. This season, the 46-18 Raptors are the No. 2 seed in the East and the team had two 2020 All-Star representatives in Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry, despite having lost Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in 2019 free agency.

“Obviously, (the) timeline’s a little different this year,” Webster noted when asked about a potential extension for Nurse (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of The Athletic).

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • Webster indicated today that the team’s front office has held conversations with about 50 or 60 potential 2020 draft picks thus far, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link). How the Raptors appraise those prospects remains relatively up in the air and contingent on COVID-19 numbers and league guidance as to whether or not individual player workouts or a draft combine will be permitted this season.
  • The Raptors are among the few teams present for the NBA’s summer restart at the Walt Disney World Resort whose traveling team includes both of their top front office executives, president Masai Ujiri and Webster, per Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet“I think you guys know how we operate, and having both of us here is good to take care of things here on the ground,” Webster noted on a conference call with reporters today.
  • The Raptors are eagerly anticipating their first return to NBA action tomorrow, in a scrimmage game against the Rockets, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports“It’s huge that we get to play basketball again and I’m excited,” Toronto guard Patrick McCaw said. “It’s a different type of atmosphere, no fans and things like that. The focus is just going to be on us, and just basketball.”