Chris Boucher

21 More NBA Players Become Trade-Eligible

Today is Sunday, January 15, which means that nearly two dozen players who signed free agent contracts meeting specific criteria this past offseason are now eligible to be traded.

Most offseason signees became trade-eligible on December 15, but players who met the following criteria were ineligible to be moved for an extra month:

  1. The player re-signed with his previous team.
  2. He got a raise of at least 20%.
  3. His salary is worth more than the minimum.
  4. His team was over the cap and used Bird or Early Bird rights to sign him.

The following players met that criteria and are eligible to be traded as of Sunday:

(* Players marked with an asterisk have the ability to veto trades.)

Most of the players on NBA rosters are now eligible to be moved, though a small handful still can’t be dealt. That group includes Thunder guard Isaiah Joe, who becomes trade-eligible on Monday, Bucks swingman Pat Connaughton (trade-eligible on Wednesday), and Thunder forward Kenrich Williams (trade-eligible on Friday).

There are also several players who won’t become trade-eligible before this season’s February 9 deadline, including Lakers star LeBron James. Players on 10-day contracts are also ineligible to be dealt.

Raptors Notes: Achiuwa, Boucher, VanVleet, Koloko

Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa appears to be on the verge of returning from a right ankle injury. He was put through a vigorous on-court workout after the team’s practice today, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter links), who notes that Achiuwa has been upgraded to questionable for Thursday’s game vs. Memphis.

Despite the change in Achiuwa’s status on the injury report, Lewenberg believes the former first-round pick is more likely to return for Friday’s game vs. Phoenix. Achiuwa hasn’t played since November 9.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Raptors big man Chris Boucher has logged just 22 total minutes in the last three games and has scored only two points during that stretch. Asked if Achiuwa’s return could benefit Boucher, head coach Nick Nurse simply stated, Chris needs to play better (Twitter link via Lewenberg).
  • After leaving Tuesday’s game due to lower back stiffness, Fred VanVleet is listed as questionable for Thursday, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. The Raptors’ starting point guard is dealing with back spasms, according to Nurse (Twitter link via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps). If VanVleet has to miss any time, Malachi Flynn has earned the opportunity to play a larger role, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.
  • Rookie center Christian Koloko, also listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, is getting an MRI on his sore right knee today, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Both Grange and Lewenberg explored what it meant to have Clippers forwards Kawhi Leonard and Norman Powell – two members of the Raptors’ 2019 championship team – back in the building on Tuesday. Despite Leonard’s reputation for being “notoriously stoic,” even the former Finals MVP was feeling a little nostalgic, according to Grange. With the Clippers still managing his knee, Leonard was given the choice of sitting out Monday’s game in Detroit or Tuesday in Toronto — he opted to face the Raptors. “It’s always great memories coming in this arena,” Kawhi said. “And if I was going to sit a game I’d rather give the fans in Toronto a chance to see me play again.”

Atlantic Notes: Trent Jr., Siakam, Robinson, Irving, Williams

Gary Trent Jr., who has been out of the Raptors lineup since Nov. 12 due to a hip injury and an illness, is expected to play on Wednesday, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star reports.

Chris Boucher, who hasn’t played since Wednesday due to a non-COVID illness, and Trent took part in Monday’s light workout and should both be available against the Nets this Wednesday.

In another promising development, Pascal Siakam also participated in the practice on a limited basis. He has missed eight games due to an adductor strain.

“We certainly needed to survive here and Pascal was out there today in practice,” coach Nick Nurse said. “Well, not a whole lot of people in contact (practices) these days when the numbers are what they are, so he was out there moving around. So we shouldn’t be awfully far away from him being back.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson didn’t have much of an impact in his return to action, Peter Botte of the New York Post notes. Robinson, who suffered a sprained right knee on Nov. 4 against the Sixers, finished with two points, four rebounds and two blocked shots in 17 minutes against Phoenix on Sunday. “I don’t feel that far behind,” Robinson said. “I feel like I’m way better than I was last year as far as conditioning-wise. But since this happened, I’ve got to build it back up.” Jericho Sims, who filled in for Robinson, will likely drop out of the rotation.
  • Kyrie Irving had his suspension lifted on Sunday and the Players’ Association will not file a grievance for the games he missed, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic tweets. Executive director Tamika Tremaglio said the union opted not to file a grievance with the league against the Nets on behalf of  Irving, who missed eight games without pay.
  • Celtics center Robert Williams has progressed to 3-on-3 work, another step in his knee rehab, Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe reports. “We’re happy with him as far as his progression and the work he’s put in toward coming back,” coach Joe Mazzulla said. “He’s picking it up on the court a little bit. … He looks good. He’s healthy and responding well to it. He’s in a good space as far as patience, and he’s doing the work he needs to do.” There’s no set timetable for Williams’ return to full practices and games.

Injury Updates: Magic, Bulls, Celtics, Raptors, Heat, Hayward, More

The Magic will be getting some reinforcements for Friday’s game in Chicago, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Veteran guard Gary Harris has been cleared to make his regular season debut following offseason arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Price reports. Additionally, starting center Wendell Carter Jr. will be back in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game due to a strained right plantar fascia.

Orlando’s opponents also got some good injury-related news on Friday. As Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes, Bulls guard Coby White (left quad contusion) and forward Patrick Williams (right ankle sprain) both said at Friday’s shootaround that they’ll be able to play against the Magic. White has missed the last eight games as a result of his injury; Williams sprained his ankle on Wednesday, but it appears the injury won’t cost him any games.

Here are several more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • As expected, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon will be available on Friday vs. New Orleans after missing four games with a hamstring injury. However, the team announced that Marcus Smart (right ankle inflammation) will miss a second straight game (Twitter link).
  • The already shorthanded Raptors will be missing Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher on Saturday vs. Atlanta due to non-COVID illnesses, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. However, Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets that Dalano Banton‘s ankle sprain isn’t as serious as initially feared and Pascal Siakam (adductor strain) has resumed on-court activity. Another update on Siakam is expected in a week or so, Koreen adds.
  • Heat star Jimmy Butler (knee soreness) has been ruled out for Friday’s game against Washington and it’s possible that Bam Adebayo (knee contusion) won’t be available either, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Adebayo is currently listed as questionable.
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, who has been on the shelf since November 2 due to a left shoulder contusion, has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Friday’s game vs. Cleveland, according to the team (Twitter link).
  • Pacers sharpshooter Chris Duarte isn’t expected to be available during the team’s upcoming four-game home stand, but could return from his ankle sprain at some point in the subsequent seven-game road trip, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. That trip begins on November 27 and runs through December 7.
  • Sixers guard Jaden Springer, currently assigned to the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League, will miss at least one week due to a right quadriceps strain, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.

Raptors Notes: Barnes, Trent, Porter, Boucher, Koloko

The Raptors haven’t missed a beat with All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet (back) unavailable for the last two games, recording blowout wins over Atlanta and San Antonio. Reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes has been the team’s primary de facto point guard, recording a season-high eight assists on Monday vs. Atlanta and five more in San Antonio on Wednesday.

Barnes has displayed improvement as both a shooter and a play-maker in the early parts of the 2022/23 season, showing that his development after last year’s impressive debut is right on track, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

As Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes, the Raptors’ strong performances this week – along with Barnes’ strides as a play-maker – are proof that the team should be able to cut back VanVleet’s minutes a little when he returns, even without a reliable traditional point guard on the depth chart behind him.

VanVleet averaged a team-high 37.9 minutes per game last season and was slowed by injuries by the time the playoffs rolled around. In his first six contests this season, he averaged 38.0 MPG.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • With a player option in hand for 2023/24, Gary Trent Jr. is in a potential contract year and is off to a good start, Grange says in another Sportsnet.ca story. While Grange doesn’t necessarily expect Trent to match the $120MM+ deals signed by Tyler Herro and Jordan Poole, who are more talented ball-handlers and play-makers, he notes that Trent is a good defender whose offensive stats (20.0 PPG on .450/.382/.783 shooting in eight games this season) continue to improve.
  • Otto Porter Jr. didn’t play a huge role in his Raptors debut on Wednesday, but head coach Nick Nurse is excited about what the team’s top offseason free agent addition can provide. “I’m just hoping he can do what he’s done, which is make open threes,” Nurse said on Wednesday, per Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. “He’s a really good rebounder, especially positionally. He’s got some good length, so hopefully he can play some defense as well. But really, the perimeter shooting is his specialty and it’s something we could use.”
  • Chris Boucher, who also signed a multiyear free agent contract with Toronto over the summer, is a developmental success story for the Raptors, Koreen contends in a story for The Athletic. Considered a raw “tweener” when he first joined the team, Boucher has become one of the Raptors’ most reliable and productive reserves.
  • In the early part of the 2022/23 season, the Raptors rank first in the NBA in fast break points, steals per game, and defensive rebounding rate, using a terrific transition offense to make up for their subpar half-court production, as Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) outlines.
  • In the same Insider article at ESPN, Lowe also touches on the early impact of rookie big man Christian Koloko. Toronto is allowing just 97 points per 100 possessions with Koloko on the floor, which is better than Milwaukee’s league-best rate of 101.3 points per 100 posessions.

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Knicks, House, Embiid, Curry, Boucher

The Sixers were docked two second-round draft picks for holding early free agent discussions with forwards P.J. Tucker and Danuel House. The Knicks could be the next team to be penalized.

The league’s investigation into early contact regarding the Knicks’ pursuit of free agent Jalen Brunson remains ongoing, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. New York signed the former Dallas guard to a four-year, $104MM deal in July.

We have from the Atlantic Division:

  • House has played 15 or fewer minutes over the past three games. He was signed to a two-year, $8.4MM contract this summer. The Sixers forward taking the minutes reduction in stride, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “It’s a team game, so I can’t really get too overwhelmed and too locked into myself,” House said. “There’s too much going on for me to be thinking of myself. You’ve just got to sit back and play the game.”
  • Sixers star Joel Embiid isn’t playing in Monday’s game against Washington due to a non-COVID illness, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post tweets.
  • Guard Seth Curry isn’t playing in the Nets’ game against Indiana on Monday due to left ankle injury management, the team tweets. Ben Simmons is also sidelined due to left knee soreness, ESPN’s Marc Spears tweets.
  • Raptors big man Chris Boucher has endeared himself to coach Nick Nurse and his teammates with his energetic performances, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “He’s been very professional,” Nurse said. “That’s one thing about Chris: First of all, he’s a guy that practices hard. He kind of just has a gear that he plays in and that is good. Even if it’s 5-on-0 he’s flying around in his mode. That, I think, is leading by example.” Boucher is in the first season of a three-year, $35.25MM contract.

Raptors Notes: Young, Porter, Boucher

Raptors reserve forward Thaddeus Young has seen his role reduced in the early going this season, having been a DNP-CD for a couple games. Head coach Nick Nurse discussed how he saw the vet fitting into the club’s rotation, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter link).

“He’s gotta stay ready,” Nurse said. “I talked to him immediately after the Miami game and he [said], ‘Coach, I’m ready and I’ll always be ready’ and totally with what we’re doing, all that kind of stuff. I wouldn’t say that I planned on not using him [in] Miami that night, it’s just kinda how it turned out… We’re gonna need him, there’s just no doubt about it… It’s kinda a night-to-night thing.”

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • Nurse said that Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr. will be unavailable “for a bit” due to undisclosed personal reasons, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link). Nurse suggested that the 6’8″ vet, who signed a two-year, $12.4MM contract with Toronto after winning a title with the Warriors last season, will be part of the team’s rotation once he makes his debut, Lewenberg adds (via Twitter).
  • Raptors reserve big man Chris Boucher has been a helpful change-of-pace figure for the club as a key backup, writes Lewenberg for TSN.ca. “It’s important for me to bring energy and I think that’s a way to show that I’m ready to the coach and also to myself,” Boucher said. Toronto point guard Fred VanVleet likes the new dimension that his teammate brings to the court: “He just plays with a little bit more energy than the rest of us at times. Fresh legs and just being able to fly around, throw some corner-threes in, [grab] offensive rebounds. He just finds creases that a guy like him is skinny enough to slip through. He’s just a great presence for us out there.” 
  • In case you missed it, the Raptors were projected by Forbes as the NBA’s 11th-most valuable franchise, with an estimated worth of $3.1 billion.

Atlantic Notes: Boucher, Achiuwa, Curry, Sixers, Mazzulla

While Chris Boucher would rather have been playing in the Raptors‘ first three games, the veteran forward/center found a silver lining in having to sit out with a hamstring injury, as Doug Smith of The Toronto Star relays.

“To be honest with you, I feel like it was good for me just to see what I can bring to the team, sitting down and watching,” Boucher said on Monday before returning to the Raptors’ lineup in Miami. “If I was playing and we were losing games, I probably wouldn’t see as much.”

Boucher got into quick foul trouble in his season debut on Monday, picking up five fouls in just 12 minutes of action. But he was effective in his limited role, scoring 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting in a Raptors victory.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Raptors got a big night out of Precious Achiuwa against his old team on Monday, as he grabbed 22 rebounds against the Heat. While the team isn’t expecting regular 22-rebound nights from Achiuwa, head coach Nick Nurse wants to see him produce more consistently. “I always say you can play good, like one out of three games, right? It’s got to get bumped up to two out of four, then three out of five,” Nurse said, per Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “No one is going to play great every night but we got to start making some progression where there’s some consistency there.”
  • Nets sharpshooter Seth Curry, who continues to work his way back from offseason ankle surgery, is getting closer to making his season debut, according to head coach Steve Nash. “(Curry) traveled and we’re just monitoring him still. He’s doing well,” Nash said on Monday, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “I’d say he’s out for Wednesday, but we’ll see whether Thursday, Saturday or the subsequent games. It’s coming soon.”
  • After averaging an NBA-low 11.3 bench points in their first three games (all losses), the Sixers got 36 points from their reserves in their first win of the season over Indiana on Monday, as Joel Embiid and James Harden worked to get the bench players involved, writes Rich Hofmann of The Athletic.
  • In an in-depth profile, Chris Mannix of SI.com takes a closer look at Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, including revisiting his arrests as a student at West Virginia in 2008 and 2009. “I’m not perfect,” Mazzulla said. “I made the mistakes. I’ve worked to reinvent myself. I know who I am and I know the mistakes that I made. It’s important to be secure about that if you want to be authentic with people.””

Injury Notes: DiVincenzo, Zion, Ingram, Boucher, Barnes

Warriors guard Donte DiVincenzo injured his left hamstring during Sunday’s victory over Sacramento and won’t travel with the team to Phoenix for Tuesday’s contest, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Speaking today to reporters, including Kendra Andrews of ESPN (Twitter link), Warriors head coach Steve Kerr revealed that DiVincenzo will miss more than just Tuesday’s game, indicating that the swingman will be reevaluated in one week.

As Andrews relays, the Warriors will be in the midst of a five-game road trip at that point and haven’t yet determined whether DiVincenzo will join them on that trip, which ends on November 4.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • The Pelicans are listing forwards Zion Williamson (hip), Brandon Ingram (head), and Herb Jones (knee) as questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Dallas, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Williamson and Ingram left Sunday’s loss after sustaining their respective injuries, while Jones tweaked his knee during that game, but it sounds like none of the three injuries are significant. Imaging on Jones’ knee came back clean, per head coach Willie Green.
  • Although Green told reporters today that Ingram wasn’t in the NBA’s concussion protocol, the Pelicans put out a press release announcing that Ingram is, in fact, in the protocol. Within the announcement, the team noted that the return-to-participation process can begin no earlier than 24 hours from the time of the injury, which is why Ingram can’t yet be cleared.
  • Raptors big man Chris Boucher has been cleared to make his regular season debut on Monday after missing the team’s first three games due to a hamstring issue, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Scottie Barnes remains questionable for Monday with an ankle sprain, but the fact that he’ll likely be a game-time decision is a sign that the injury isn’t as serious as the team initially feared it could be, Lewenberg observes.
  • In case you missed it, the Lakers ruled out two-way forward Cole Swider for at least the next four weeks due to a foot issue.

Raptors Notes: Barnes, Nurse, Reserves, Boucher

The Raptors are hoping that 2022 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes can take the next step en route to superstardom, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Barnes excelled as a scorer and defender during the 2021/22 season — the goal now is to improve his ceiling as a play-maker and shooter.

“We’ve tried to give him a little bit at a time so it’s not overwhelming and he’s not completely confused out there,” Barnes’ skills trainer and mentor Brian Macon said. “The hardest thing about training Scottie’s game is that he’s going to catch the ball in so many different positions … He might have the ball in the ball screen, he might catch it in the post, he might catch it in the short roll, he might catch it off someone else’s action. So it’s hard, because he does so much on the floor. But I think he’ll have a better plan in every single spot, and he’ll know what he likes and he’ll have more things he can go to.”

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • With Barnes possibly limited in the short-term future due to a right ankle sprain, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse will have to search for depth on the club’s roster, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “You guys know, I’m trying to win each game each night,” Nurse said recently. “That’s the one thing that we’re trying to do. It’s felt like the right thing to do so far by subbing the way we subbed.” Koreen notes that the Raptors seem to be lacking some half-court scoring punch.
  • Though injuries to Raptors reserves Otto Porter Jr. and Chris Boucher can be partly to blame for the team’s underwhelming bench performance thus far this season, Doug Smith of The Star opines that the team’s remaining backups still need to improve their performances. “The league is all about opportunity and rhythm… especially for guys that are on limited minutes, limited rotation, limited opportunity,” starting point guard Fred VanVleet said. “You just got to know when you are checking in and know the rotation and know the rhythm, know where the shots are coming from, know what you are supposed to do when you are out there.”
  • Boucher and Barnes are both officially questionable ahead of tomorrow’s contest against the Heat, but Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link) reports that Nurse anticipates Boucher will be able to make his 2022/23 season debut.