Chris Boucher

Raptors Notes: VanVleet, Achiuwa, Boucher, Depth

Fred VanVleet made changes to his diet as well as his strength and conditioning regimen in order to stay healthy while playing heavy minutes, according to Josh Lewenberg of Lewenberg notes that VanVleet has played the second-most minutes per game in the NBA over the past three seasons (trailing only James Harden), and 47 of his 55 missed games over that span have come in the second half of seasons.

It’s a 12-month season now, year ‘round,” said a noticeably slimmer VanVleet. “Hopefully I can stay on this regimen the rest of my career. There’s always gonna be new changes and things you have to adjust and adapt to as you try to grow. I’ve had a hell of a run so far, so to continue to try to keep growing is going to be challenging every year but I’m up for it.”

Head coach Nick Nurse said the team hopes to reduce VanVleet’s workload in 2022/23, but it’s more complicated than just following a prescribed plan.

It’s not easy,” Nurse said, per Lewenberg. “When you got a super competitive guy who’s playing great and he wants to play, to rest him, to just say, ‘Sorry, it’s your rest time, we don’t care what’s happening on the floor right now, it’s your rest time,’ that’s hard to do. But I think we learned a lot about how we can shift our team around without him in there and I think that we’re going to need to be able to do that. I hope we can get it done.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Precious Achiuwa‘s development is one of the keys to Toronto’s standing in the East, writes Michael Grange of Achiuwa made an immediate impact as a defender in his first year with the Raptors in ’21/22, but struggled on offense. However, he had a big second half last season, and if he can build upon that, the Raptors will be that much more dangerous, Grange notes. Nurse says the third-year big man has impressed early on in training camp. “I think that he’s improving all the time. I think he had a great especially last half. I’ve already talked about I think he had a great spring, summer, fall so far, and he’s looked really good during the first three practices,” said Nurse. “So you know, I think a good step forward for him is expected by him, first and foremost, which is the most important, and by all of us, yeah.”
  • Both Nurse and Chris Boucher are hoping for more consistency from the “really unique” big man, who signed a three-year, $35MM contract to remain with the Raptors. “There are some nights when he’s picking and popping and not hitting those, and he can’t live in that world, that’s always just extra for us,” Nurse said, per Lori Ewing of The Toronto Star. “(He has to) continue to run, continue to crash the glass, continue to block shots and continue to be that spirit, that force of spirit that he is out there and playing hard.”
  • In another article for Sportsnet, Grange writes that the Raptors are more confident in their depth after adding Otto Porter and Juancho Hernangomez in free agency, plus having a full season of Thaddeus Young, who signed an extension shortly before free agency opened. Young players like Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton and Justin Champagnie could also be important depth pieces if they continue to improve, Grange adds.

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 “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.

Contract Details: Rubio, Bol, Dort, Boucher

The Cavaliers will use a portion of their mid-level exception to sign Ricky Rubio, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Rubio has agreed to a three-year, $18.4MM contract to return to Cleveland.

Rubio, who suffered a torn ACL in late December, finished the season with the Pacers. The Cavs’ front office explored the possibility of a sign-and-trade with the Pacers but couldn’t come to an agreement, Fedor explains.

Here are a few more contract-related notes from around the league:

  • The second year of Bol Bol‘s contract with the Magic is a team option, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. According to Spotrac, Bol Bol’s two-year deal is a minimum-salary contract worth a total of $3,968,718.
  • The unlikely bonuses in Luguentz Dort‘s contract with the Thunder are for making the All-Defensive Team and the Defensive Player of the Year award, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (video link). Those bonuses are worth $1MM annually. The five-year deal has a total base value of $82.5MM.
  • Chris Boucher‘s three-year, $35.2MM contract with the Raptors is fully guaranteed, Marks tweets. The first year of the contract is worth $12.7MM and his cap hits decline over the following two seasons.

Raptors Re-Sign Chris Boucher To Three-Year Deal

JULY 7: Boucher has officially re-signed with the Raptors, the team announced (via Twitter).

JUNE 30: The Raptors have agreed to bring back big man Chris Boucher on a three-year contract worth a reported $35.25MM, agent Sam Permut tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Toronto is using Boucher’s Bird rights to re-sign him to a deal worth a little more than the full mid-level exception. It’s a fully guaranteed deal, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.

After going undrafted out of Oregon in 2017 at age 24, Boucher has slowly emerged as one of the best player development stories in the NBA. He was the G League MVP and Defensive Player of the year in 2018/19 with the Raptors 905, Toronto’s affiliate, then emerged as a rotation regular in ’19/20, averaging 6.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 1.0 BPG in just 13.2 MPG (62 games).

His development led to a two-year, $13.5MM deal in 2020, which he easily outperformed the last couple of seasons. Boucher averaged 13.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 1.9 BPG on .514/.383/.788 shooting in ’20/21 (60 games, 24.2 MPG). His numbers fell off to 9.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 0.9 BPG on .464/.297/.777 shooting in 80 games (21.1 MPG) last season, partially as a result of finger surgery during preseason.

Boucher is an athletic, energetic big man who can block shots and limited opponents to 43.9% shooting this past season. He’s an unusual player in a lot of ways, standing 6’9″ but weighing just 200 pounds. Although Boucher often plays center, he’s capable of switching across multiple positions on defense using his speed and 7’4″ wingspan.

Clearly, the Raptors value Boucher highly, despite his down shooting year and limitations (he has 116 career assists in 123 games). Yet those limitations haven’t been a hindrance, as the team been markedly better when he’s on the court over the last two seasons.

Scotto’s Latest: Jazz, Raptors, Nets, DiVincenzo

Before they reached an agreement to send Rudy Gobert to Minnesota on Friday, the Jazz asked the Raptors about the possibility of acquiring forward OG Anunoby and swingman Gary Trent Jr., league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Toronto was linked to Gobert repeatedly during the first half of the offseason. Still, as great as the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is, it was never clear how badly the Raptors wanted to break up their core to acquire a big man who didn’t fit the versatile, switchable, and positionless brand of basketball the team has adopted. Whether the Raptors balked at Utah’s asking price or the Jazz simply preferred Minnesota’s offer, Gobert is off the table for Toronto.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • The Celtics, Bucks, Nets, and Bulls are among the teams that expressed interest in Chris Boucher before he agreed to re-sign with the Raptors, while forward Thaddeus Young – who is also returning to Toronto – drew interest from the Celtics and Pacers, according to Scotto.
  • The Nets made it a priority this offseason to land a wing defender capable of guarding multiple positions, which was why they agreed to trade for Royce O’Neale even as news of Kevin Durant‘s trade request was breaking. As Scotto explains, the Nets and Jazz previously explored a deal involving O’Neale and Joe Harris prior to the in-season trade deadline.
  • In addition to receiving interest from teams willing to give him the full taxpayer mid-level exception, Donte DiVincenzo also received an offer from a team with cap space that would’ve exceeded the two-year, $9.3MM contract he’s signing with the Warriors, says Scotto. The second-year player option Golden State gave him and DiVincenzo’s belief that the Warriors give him the best opportunity to play for a contender were factors in his decision to accept less money, Scotto adds.

Raptors Rumors: VanVleet, Young, Boucher, Bamba, Gobert

The Raptors and Fred VanVleet appear on track to reach an agreement on a four-year contract extension that could approach $120MM in total value, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

VanVleet, who will be extension-eligible this offseason, will earn $21.25MM in 2022/23 and has a $22.82MM player option for 2023/24. If he were to decline that option, he could sign a four-year extension worth up to $114.24MM, so Fischer’s $120MM projection looks a little high.

Still, it sounds as if the Raptors will be prepared to offer VanVleet the maximum amount he can receive on an extension. The All-Star point guard would become eligible for a more lucrative contract if he plays out the ’22/23 season, then turns down his player option to become a free agent next summer. But an extension worth $28.5MM per year that locks him up until age 33 may be hard to pass up.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • According to Fischer, Thaddeus Young appears likely to remain in Toronto, potentially on a two-year contract agreement worth at least $10MM. Young was acquired by the Raptors from San Antonio in a trade deadline deal in February.
  • Young is one of the Raptors’ two key free agents this offseason, along with big man Chris Boucher. Zach Kram of The Ringer makes a case for why he considers Boucher the most interesting free agent on the market due to his unusual combination of skills and physical traits.
  • The Raptors and Bulls are among the teams that appear to have interest in Magic big man Mohamed Bamba, Fischer reports. However, Bamba will be a restricted free agent and may not leave Orlando — he and the Magic are motivated to work out a new deal, sources tell Fischer.
  • In considering potential landing spots for Suns restricted free agent center Deandre Ayton, Fischer notes that the Raptors continue to monitor the availability of a handful of top big men, including Jazz star Rudy Gobert. While Ayton may also be on the team’s radar, Toronto won’t have cap room and could only acquire him via sign-and-trade.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Reddish, Raptors’ Draft, Celtics’ Summer Roster, Boucher, Young

The Knicks have checked in with the Pistons regarding the No. 5 pick in the draft, Ian Begley of reports. Cam Reddish‘s name has come up in those conversations but it would take a significant package for Detroit to trade down the lottery. New York owns the No. 11 pick. The Knicks have also reportedly explored trading with the Kings for the No. 4 pick with their eyes on point guard Jaden Ivey.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

Raptors Rumors: Anunoby, VanVleet, Boucher, Young, More

The Raptors aren’t actively looking to trade forward OG Anunoby, Michael Scotto said in the latest episode of The HoopsHype Podcast. According to Scotto, it would require a “substantial” return for Toronto to consider moving Anunoby, along the lines of a significant upgrade at center or a top-10 draft pick. That’s similar to what Jake Fischer has recently reported.

Scotto’s guest, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet 590 The Fan, agrees that it would take “a lot” for the Raptors to seriously considering moving Anunoby, noting that assistant GM Dan Tolzman recently expressed skepticism when asked if the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft would develop at the same rate and with the same ceiling as Anunoby.

While Murphy acknowledges that Anunoby would be an obvious trade candidate if the Raptors attempt to trade for an impact player, he believes the team would rather enter the 2022/23 season without a traditional center than include Anunoby in a trade for a center who isn’t as well-rounded and versatile a player as the 24-year-old forward.

Murphy and Scotto also point out that Toronto is high on Precious Achiuwa, whose role would be cut back if the team added a starting center to play 30-35 minutes per night.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Fred VanVleet and the Raptors are expected to discuss a possible contract extension this offseason, league sources tell Scotto. If VanVleet were to decline his 2023/24 player option, he could extend for up to four years and $114MM this summer. However, Murphy doesn’t think there will be a rush to get anything done, since Toronto will hold VanVleet’s Bird rights and would be in the driver’s seat to re-sign him if he opts out in 2023.
  • The Raptors have interest in re-signing both Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young in free agency, according to Scotto. Murphy observes that the team should have about $31MM in wiggle room below the luxury tax line, which could be used to bring back Boucher and Young and fill out the roster, possibly using the mid-level exception. A deal in the mid-level range ($10MM) might make sense for Boucher, Murphy adds.
  • Addressing Boucher’s free agency in his own story today, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report suggested that it seems safe to “pencil in” the big man’s return to Toronto.
  • Svi Mykhailiuk‘s decision on his $1.88MM player option may go down to the wire, according to Scotto, who says June 22 is the deadline for Mykhailiuk to opt in.
  • Murphy would be shocked if two-way restricted free agent Justin Champagnie doesn’t remain with the Raptors, perhaps on a two-year, minimum-salary deal.

And-Ones: CBA, Top FAs, Trade Value Ranks, Rookies

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are meeting in Boston on Wednesday to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski explains, the league and union both have the ability to opt out of the current CBA this December, so the two sides are having a preliminary meeting as they prepare to engage in more serious talks about a new CBA in the coming months.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Deveney’s Latest: A. Davis, Schröder, Bulls, Knicks

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said last week that “numerous” league executives suggested to him that Lakers star Anthony Davis doesn’t have significant trade value due to his injury history. However, execs who spoke to Sean Deveney of scoffed at that idea.

One general manager told Deveney that there would be “29 teams ready with offers” if the Lakers made Davis available. An Eastern Conference executive said the idea of Davis not having much value is “crazy.”

“Look, it is beauty in the eye of the beholder. But he is an elite talent and he is 29 years old,” the East exec told Deveney. “Everybody wants him, everybody thinks that if they get their hands on him, they can keep him healthy, etc., etc.

“Now, can you get the kind of offer the Lakers gave up when they traded for him (in 2019)? No, of course not. But a team like Chicago, where he is from, they would bend over backwards to get him. Dallas, putting him with Luka (Doncic)? Of course, they would. Phoenix, Miami, any team that really wants to take that next step. The injury is a risk, but the payoff you get if you can keep him on the floor is worth it.”

While there seems to be no real consensus on Davis’ value, it may be a moot point this offseason, since there’s no indication the Lakers would consider moving him.

Here’s more from Deveney:

  • It’s possible the Rockets will re-sign free agent point guard Dennis Schröder and then look to trade him during the 2022/23 season, like Boston did this past year, a source tells Deveney. Although Deveney suggests Houston could use part of its mid-level exception to retain Schröder, the Non-Bird exception would allow an offer up to about $7MM, which could be enough. It’s also worth pointing out that signing a one-year deal with the Rockets would give Schröder the ability to veto a trade next season.
  • The Bulls are one team to watch as a potential free agent suitor for Schröder, but probably only if they trade Coby White, according to Deveney, who notes that Schröder had his best year playing for Billy Donovan in Oklahoma City in 2019/20.
  • Executives around the NBA believe the Knicks – who added Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker last summer – are more likely to pursue “young-ish” players with some upside this offseason rather than going after veterans again. Deveney mentions Tyus Jones, Mohamed Bamba, Chris Boucher, and Schröder as possible targets, though he acknowledges that some of those players aren’t particularly young.