C.J. Miles

Grizzlies Trade Marc Gasol To Raptors

9:05pm: The Raptors have officially acquired Gasol from the Grizzlies, sending Valanciunas, Wright, Miles and a 2024 second-round pick to Memphis in return, the teams announced on Thursday.

“Marc [Gasol] brings significant playoff experience to our team, which along with his savviness and leadership skills really helps position us for our ultimate post-season goal,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. “We look forward to welcoming Marc to our city and team.”

12:55pm: The Raptors and Grizzlies are finalizing a trade agreement that would send Marc Gasol to Toronto, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Memphis is expected to receive Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles, and a 2024 second-round pick in exchange for Gasol, according to Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

It’s the latest major development in what has turned into an arms race among the Eastern Conference’s top contenders. The Sixers acquired Tobias Harris on Wednesday morning, and the Bucks reached a deal to acquire Nikola Mirotic earlier today.

The Raptors will surrender some depth in the trade by giving up three rotation players, but none of Valanciunas, Wright, and Miles were starters. In acquiring Gasol, Toronto will add more firepower to its frontcourt, acquiring a veteran center who has been linked to the club for years.

A former Defensive Player of the Year, Gasol has slowed down a step or two at age 34, but he’s still a productive scorer (15.7 PPG), rebounder (8.6 RPG), and rim protector (1.2 BPG). He has also added an outside shot to his game in recent years, making 35.7% of his attempts and 1.4 threes per game over the last three seasons. It will be interesting to see how the Raptors manage his minutes in a frontcourt that also features Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam, both of whom are having excellent seasons.

The Grizzlies, meanwhile, will move on from a three-time All-Star who has been in Memphis since 2008. Despite Gasol’s long tenure with the franchise, it appeared this week as if he was ready to move on, having cleared out his locker when it looked as if a trade to the Hornets was a possibility. That deal with Charlotte never got too close to being finalized, notes Sean Deveney of Sporting News (Twitter link).

In exchange for Gasol, Memphis gets a productive center in Valanciunas, who is set to return from a hand injury, a promising young point guard in Wright, who will be a restricted free agent season’s end, and Miles, a sharpshooter who has had a down year. The Grizzlies will also acquire a future second-round pick, though it’s hard to determine how much value that selection will have by 2024.

Valanciunas has a $17.62MM player option for next season, while Miles has a $8.73MM player option. Both players look like solid bets to opt in. It’s not clear yet what Gasol will do with his own $25.6MM player option for 2019/20. The Raptors would have his Bird Rights if he opts out.

Gasol also has a 15% trade kicker, which will be applied to his 2018/19 cap hit, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.com. That bonus would increase Gasol’s cap figure by close to $1.3MM if he doesn’t waive it.

Marks also observes that this deal will leave the Raptors with just 11 players under contract after they also sent Malachi Richardson to Philadelphia. The club will have two weeks to get back to the league-mandated minimum of 14 players, so it could be an active month in Toronto.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raptors Notes: Leonard, Trade Deadline, Siakam, Miles

Kawhi Leonard will sit out his third consecutive game tonight, once again because of “load management,” tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. After playing just nine games last season because of a quad injury, Leonard’s health has been a priority in Toronto ever since he was acquired in an offseason trade. Eric Koreen of The Athletic examines how this decision has affected the Raptors and why it’s the best strategy to keep him healthy enough for the playoffs and maybe happy enough to re-sign this summer.

“I think he said it from day one that health is most important to him, so being attentive, listening, pushing him, all the things you’d want to do with your own health for your long-term future (are important),” GM Bobby Webster said recently. “… Anything we can do health-wise and medical-wise to progress him is great, so I think that’s a big one for us.”

Koreen notes that Leonard is getting considerations that aren’t extended to other players. For more than a month, Fred VanVleet has worn a wrap on his back when not playing, and Kyle Lowry skipped a planned night off last Thursday. However, VanVleet said the players understand the situation and aren’t resentful toward Leonard.

“He doesn’t have to prove anything if there’s three (games) in four nights, back-to-backs,” VanVleet said. “It’s from a health standpoint, from what we are told. He’s important. We’d much rather have him fresh and ready later than wearing him out right now.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Tax concerns and limited draft picks will affect the Raptors’ options at the trade deadline, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Toronto has the third-highest payroll in the league, which means the third-highest luxury tax bill — projected at $34.7MM without any roster changes. The team sent its 2019 first-round pick to San Antonio in the Leonard trade, which means the 2020 first-rounder is off limits. If this year’s pick doesn’t convey to the Spurs, the Raptors will owe them second-rounders in 2020 and 2023, so those can’t be traded away either.
  • Pascal Siakam is a candidate for a Most Improved Player award this spring and for a rookie scale extension this summer. In a separate story, he tells Murphy the extension would be nice, but it’s not what motivates him. “I think it’s bigger just having an impact on kids,” Siakam said. “That’s why I always say I look up to [team president] Masai [Ujiri] and the things he’s been able to do. ‘Cause when people look at [him], they see a reflection of Africa, and I want to be able to be that way.”
  • After scoring 13 points in back-to-back games, C.J. Miles is hoping for a turnaround in a nightmarish season, relays Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun. Miles has an $8.7MM option for next year that he appears likely to exercise.

Raptors Notes: Leonard, Anunoby, Miles

The Raptors are about ready to start playing Kawhi Leonard in back-to-back games, relays Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Leonard was limited to nine games last season with a quad injury and Toronto hasn’t used him on consecutive nights since acquiring him in an offseason trade. However, coach Nick Nurse told reporters tonight that it will happen soon.

“I think we are there,” Nurse said. “I think, after we get here to the new year, we’ll be there. No promises, but I think we’re there.”

Leonard is posting MVP-level numbers in his first season in Toronto, averaging 26.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He was inactive tonight after scoring 37 points Friday. It’s the ninth game he has missed this season, with five of those being classified as “load management.” The next back-to-back on the Raptors’ schedule will be January 5 and 6 against the Bucks and Pacers.

There’s more from north of the border:

  • Leonard is still bitter over a comment from Kevin Durant four years ago, which could provide complications for any team hoping to add both star free agents, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. After Leonard was named MVP of the 2014 Finals, Durant seemed to dismiss the accomplishment, saying he was a product of the Spurs’ system.
  • OG Anunoby provided a glimpse of the talent that some people have been raving about in Friday’s win over the Cavaliers, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Starting for the fourth time this season, Anunoby tied his career highs with 21 points and eight rebounds. “I was planning on his growth being really a big leap forward this year,” Nurse said before the game. “For any number of reasons it hasn’t happened yet, but I still believe in the guy. I still believe we’re going to see that.” Anunoby is a versatile defender in addition to his offensive skills, but Smith notes that it’s hard to carve out minutes for him when the lineup is fully healthy.
  • Norman Powell‘s return from injury could squeeze C.J. Miles out of the rotation, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. The 31-year-old has seen his production regress in his second season with Toronto, averaging 5.1 PPG in 28 games while shooting .315 from the floor and .286 from 3-point range. He has an $8.73MM player option for next season.

Raptors Notes: Green, Miles, Kawhi, Lowry

Two Raptors sharpshooters in possible contract years are having two very different seasons so far, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca in a look at Danny Green and C.J. Miles.

Green, earning $10MM this season, will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019 and is playing as well as he has in years, averaging 9.6 PPG, shooting a team-best 43.0% from the beyond the arc, and providing strong perimeter defense. He’ll be 32 years old when he hits the open market next July, but he’s positioning himself well for at least one more nice payday.

On the other end of the spectrum, Miles has struggled mightily so far in 2018/19 — his 5.5 PPG would be his worst mark since the 2007/08 season, and his .288 3PT% is substantially below his career mark. Miles figures to bounce back at some point, but he looks like a virtual lock to exercise his $8.73MM player option for 2019/20 rather than opting for free agency.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • It looks like a no-brainer in hindsight, but the Raptors took a big gamble when they traded for Kawhi Leonard in the offseason, and so far that gamble is paying off in a big way, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com. “It’s a great trade for Toronto, even if [Leonard] leaves,” one league executive said. “I just never saw them going any further than they had with DeMar [DeRozan].”
  • Speaking of Leonard, he has a new multiyear endorsement deal in place with New Balance, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The former NBA Finals MVP passed on an extension with Jordan Brand earlier this year.
  • In a conversation with Michael Lee of The Athletic, Kyle Lowry explained why he’s no longer upset about the Raptors’ decision to trade his best friend DeRozan, and talked about adjusting to playing alongside an MVP-caliber player like Leonard. “Me, how I am, I want to make sure he’s comfortable,” Lowry said of Kawhi. “He’s the most talented player that we have. He’s our best player. He’s got a ring. Why not? Danny’s been great, too. Nothing is ever awkward because this is a small brotherhood. We all respect what we do.”

Injury Updates: Nowitzki, Markkanen, Leonard, Harkless

Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is targeting next month for his season debut, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Nowitzki provided an update today on his condition as he continues rehab work after having surgery on his left ankle in April. “Hopefully somewhere in December, I’ll be ready,” he said, although he hasn’t been able to participate in a full practice since the operation.

Nowitzki saw some action in a “staff game” today, playing against interns and younger members of the coaching staff. “I wasn’t the best player out there, so I have some work to do,” he said.

Nowitzki, who turned 40 over the summer, remained effective last season, playing 77 games and averaging 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per night. He has indicated that this may be his final NBA season, although he hasn’t made a formal announcement.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen continues to make progress in his return from a right elbow injury and could start practicing with contact next week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Coach Fred Hoiberg said Markkanen has made major improvements with his conditioning. He suffered a high-grade lateral elbow sprain during training camp.
  • Hoiberg added that Kris Dunn is ahead of Bobby Portis in recovering from knee injuries that they suffered within days of each other (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors are moving closer to using Kawhi Leonard in back-to-back games, coach Nick Nurse told Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun (Twitter link). Nurse added that the team’s strategy with Leonard over the first quarter of the season has been successful, and there have been no problems when he has been asked to play a lot of minutes. “He feels good,” Nurse added of Leonard, who was limited to nine games with the Spurs last season because of a quad injury.
  • The RaptorsC.J. Miles missed his fifth straight game tonight with a groin strain, but he should be back soon, Wolstat adds (Twitter link).
  • Maurice Harkless is returning to the Trail Blazers‘ lineup tonight after missing 13 games with a sore left knee, tweets Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.

Atlantic Notes: Hezonja, Miles, Dudley

The Knicks have given offseason addition Mario Hezonja the green light to shoot more, an opportunity the 2015 lottery pick didn’t exactly have throughout three seasons in Orlando.

According to Greg Joyce of the New York Post, head coach David Fizdale plans to “hammer” the swingman about shooting more threes and wishes that he’d be greedier with the ball.

Hezonja understands that he’ll be shouldering some of the offensive load, especially as a potential starter, but wants to make a point of serving as a playmaker for his teammates.

I’m new here, so I want to get used to other guys, which I’m pretty used to right now,” Hezonja said. “I just want to find them more, get them more involved, get them more shots, get them to feel more comfortable in the game. I know my stuff is going to come regardless.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors have plenty of depth on the wing which could limit the opportunities that C.J. Miles gets to bounce back after a disappointing 2017/18 season. Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes about Miles’ defensive struggles last season and the competition he’ll be up against to get significant minutes this season.
  • The Nets will pay Jared Dudley $9.5MM this season but the 33-year-old could be more than just an expiring contract. Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes about Dudley’s defensive IQ and ability to provide leadership in the locker room as major assets. The slimmed down veteran could also earn minutes as the lone stretch four on the roster.
  • Well aware of the opportunity that the Celtics have to win the Eastern Conference and compete for a title, potential 2019 free agent Al Horford is focused exclusively on playing basketball this season. “We have such a big opportunity that we can’t allow ourselves to look ahead or look at any of that,” Horford told Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “I’m really locked in with this season.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Atkinson, Sixers, Celtics, Sullivan

After a record-breaking regular season, the Raptors once again laid an egg in the postseason, leading to the firing of Coach of the Year candidate Dwane Casey. Now, barring any trades, the team is faced with a potential luxury tax issue with a roster that cannot seem to compete in the weaker Eastern Conference come playoff time.

Eric Koreen of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the luxury tax concerns for Toronto, focusing on who the Raptors could afford to surrender in order to get under the tax threshold while also remaining competitive.

Koreen opines that in a perfect world, the Raptors would probably love to unload one or both of the contracts of Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell, who are scheduled to make over $21.6MM and $9.3MM next season, respectively.

More realistically, the club may decide to let young guard Fred VanVleet sign somewhere else instead of matching what is expected to be an offer in the $7.5MM per season range. Koreen also explores the possibility of moving on from big man Jonas Valanciunas or the player the Raptors used their MLE on last summer – C.J. Miles.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have been relatively uncompetitive for the last three seasons, but head coach Kenny Atkinson expects significant growth next season, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The Nets have limited cap space and traded away their own first-round pick in this month’s NBA Draft, so Atkinson will need to rely on his reputed prowess as a player developer if the Nets hope to show meaningful improvement.
  • Regardless of whether or not the Sixers succeed in signing a superstar free agent this offseason, the team will need to make sure to also sign both a guard with long-range shooting ability who is capable of guarding opposing point guards (e.g. Patrick Beverley) and a backup center capable of protecting the rim when Joel Embiid isn’t on the court, per David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • The Celtics‘ first selection in the upcoming draft, barring a trade, isn’t until pick No. 27, but according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, the team can still add some quality wing depth with versatile players such as Gary Trent Jr. or Josh Okogie, both of whom are likely to be available towards the end of the first round.
  • Per Ian Begley of ESPN, former Clippers’ assistant coach Pat Sullivan will join the Knicks staff as an assistant for new head coach David Fizdale. Sullivan, a New Jersey native, worked as an assistant coach for the Pistons when Knicks’ GM Scott Perry was an executive with the team.

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Hayward, Miles, Raptors

Markelle Fultz‘s status remains something of a mystery, with the Sixers only revealing vague details about how close 2017’s first overall pick is to returning to the court. With Philadelphia in the midst of a playoff push, the team may simply wait until next season to try to reintegrate Fultz.

Still, as Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly.com writes, head coach Brett Brown said this week that the Sixers haven’t set a cutoff date for the point guard to either return or sit out the remainder of the season.

“It’s all internal discussions we’re going through right now and just trying to accurately assess his situation,” Brown said before the Sixers took the court on Tuesday. “And we’re discussing that as we speak.”

At this point, Fultz seems more likely than not to be shut down for the season. That would give the Sixers a full offseason – including Summer League and training camp – to prepare the youngster for a regular role.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Brad Stevens definitively stated recently that Gordon Hayward won’t be back on the court this year for the Celtics, despite a series of recovery videos that has fueled speculation about his return. Now, president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has weighed in with a similar sentiment. “I don’t believe that Gordon thinks he’s going to play. I don’t think so, no,” Ainge said during an appearance on Toucher & Rich in Boston. “I think that Gordon just wants to show everyone when he comes back next year … all the work that he put in to get back to who he was when he got here. [And attempt to become an] even better player than he was when he got hurt.”
  • Speaking of Hayward’s ankle, Kyrie Irving spoke about how that season-ending injury has impacted his first year with the Celtics. A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston has the details and the quotes from Irving.
  • In an excellent piece for The Toronto Sun, Ryan Wolstat takes an in-depth look at C.J. Miles, who says he joined the Raptors last July because he viewed the club as a perfect fit for his priorities. “My first takes on any situation are: Will I be able to play well, will I fit there, what are they trying to do, are they trying to win? How is the organization? Other guys that played there, did they like it?” Miles said. “That’s what I’m looking at. And it checked off every box.”
  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri said last spring that the club required a “culture reset.” The team’s success this season can be attributed in strong part to that reset, writes Curtis Withers of The Canadian Press.
  • Earlier today, we rounded up a few Knicks and Nets notes.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Nets, Miles

Despite losing two of their most notable defenders over the course of the offseason, the new-look Celtics boast an imposing defensive front thanks to returning defensive quarterback Al Horford and new addition Kyrie Irving, Chris Forsberg of ESPN writes.

In fact, if the NBA season were to end today, the Celtics would have the highest defensive rating (95.9) of any team since the 2004/05 Spurs. That’s a franchise improvement of 9.6 points over last season, a fact even more impressive when you consider that in addition to the new faces, the club also heavily features youth in their lineup, starting both 21-year-old Jaylen Brown and 19-year-old Jayson Tatum.

As Forsberg writes, the Celtics may have lost defensive skill over the summer but they gained length. By replacing Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder with Irving, Brown and Tatum, the club gained more than a foot in height.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • A profile on new Nets minority owner Joe Tsai reveals that the Alibaba co-founder’s favorite player is Jeremy Lin, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Tsai also praised second-year swingman Caris LeVert.
  • The Raptors haven’t relied heavily on C.J. Miles from beyond the arc but his presence on the perimeter has served as a decoy for the Raptors’ offense, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “He is a product of great spacing,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He helps our spacing and that is one reason why the roll guy is so productive. They are hugged up on him [out beyond the arc], which is great, and to me that is just as good as C.J. knocking down a three or even getting an attempt.
  • While the plan was to keep Marcus Morris on a minute restriction following his return from a knee injury, injuries to other players have impacted that strategy. A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes that the newly acquired Celtics forward has been called upon to play 22-25 minutes but that they’ll see how his body responds on a game-by-game basis.

Atlantic Notes: Miles, Morris, Covington, Olynyk

C.J. Miles and Norman Powell enter the Raptors’ training camp as the primary contenders for the starting small forward spot, coach Dwane Casey told Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and other media members. The winner in the competition will join guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, power forward Serge Ibaka and center Jonas Valanciunas in the starting five. Miles, the former Pacers swingman, was signed by Toronto as a free agent in July. “It could be either one,” Casey said.Delon Wright may see some minutes at the three because he’s a versatile young man. Bruno (Caboclo) gives you a standstill shooter.” The spot opened up when DeMarre Carroll was dealt to the Nets in July.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics forward Marcus Morris will miss the start of training camp Tuesday until his trial on an aggravated assault charge in Arizona is resolved, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com reports. His brother, Wizards forward Markieff Morris, is also on trial on in the felony case. Marcus Morris was acquired by Boston this summer in the deal that sent guard Avery Bradley to the Pistons.  The Morris brothers face possible prison time and discipline from the NBA, including a minimum 10-game suspension if they are found guilty, Forsberg adds.
  • Sixers forward Robert Covington strikes an optimistic note that an agreement will be reached regarding an extension or renegotiation of his current contract, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. Covington, who stands to make less than $1.6MM this season, is in the unusual position of being eligible for an extension or renegotiation. It can’t be finalized until November 15, the three-year anniversary of when Covington signed his current deal.
  • Power forward Kelly Olynyk never wanted to leave the Celtics, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe notes. The Celtics’ brass kept in touch with Olynyk during the Gordon Hayward free agent saga, Washburn adds. When Hayward agreed to join Boston, Olynyk’s rights were renounced to create cap space and he soon signed with the Heat.