DeMar DeRozan

NBA GMs Weigh In On 2018/19 Season has completed its annual survey of NBA general managers, with John Schuhmann of asking each of the league’s 30 GMs to answer an array of questions about the league’s top teams, players, and coaches. Unsurprisingly, the Warriors are once again viewed by the NBA’s general managers as the overwhelming favorites to be the last team standing, with 26 of 30 GMs (87%) picking Golden State to win the NBA championship for the fourth time in five years.

While there are many responses in the GM survey worth checking out, we’ll focus on rounding up some of the more noteworthy ones related to rosters and player movement. Let’s dive in…

  • LeBron James (30%) and Kevin Durant (27%) are viewed as the frontrunners for the 2018/19 MVP award, but two younger players led the voting for the player GMs would most want to build a franchise around starting today. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (30%) and Pelicans big man Anthony Davis (23%) led the way in that category. Interestingly, Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns didn’t receive a single vote this year after leading the way with 29% of the vote in 2017.
  • The Lakers‘ signing of James helped them earn 70% of the vote for the team that made the best overall moves this offseason. The Raptors, buoyed by their acquisition of Kawhi Leonard, finished second at 20%.
  • A ton of different signings and trade acquisitions received votes for the most underrated addition of the summer, with the Pacers‘ signing of Tyreke Evans barely leading the way with four votes. The Spurs‘ trade for DeMar DeRozan, the Bulls‘ signing of Jabari Parker, the Pelicans‘ addition of Julius Randle, and the Thunder‘s acquisition of Dennis Schroder received three votes apiece.
  • DeMarcus Cousins‘ decision to join the Warriors (35%) was considered the most surprising move of the offseason, followed by the Spurs/Raptors blockbuster trade (29%) and Paul George remaining with the Thunder (19%).
  • While Mavericks guard Luka Doncic is the strong frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, GMs expect Suns center Deandre Ayton and Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. to be the best players five years from now. Meanwhile, the Clippers‘ selection of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at No. 11 was viewed by the most GMs as the steal of the draft.
  • The Sixers (47%) and Celtics (33%) dominated voting for the teams with the most promising young cores.

Spurs Notes: DeRozan, Murray, Aldridge, Ginobili

Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan says he’s more motivated than he’s ever been in his career, as he told in a TV interview. DeRozan was highly agitated when the Raptors traded him away to the Spurs and while he claims he’s over the disappointment, he feels he has something to prove while moving to the Western Conference. “I treated my whole summer workout with that motivation, that chip on my shoulder. It’s making me more anxious to get out there and play,” he said.

In other news around the Spurs:

  • Coach Gregg Popovich said during the team’s annual media day on Monday that Dejounte Murray is up for the challenge of becoming the team’s next standout point guard, Madalyn Mendoza of the San Antonio Express News writes. “He really wants to be good, he really wants to be to the team what Tony (Parker) was to the team,” Popovich said. “I’m confident he’ll do that as time goes on.” Murray’s ability to push the ball will force the tempo and challenge his teammates, Popovich adds. “Other players will have to run like they’ve never run before because he’s going to go,” Popovich said. “And if they want to ball they’ll have to run with him.”
  • LaMarcus Aldridge is glad the Kawhi Leonard saga is over and doesn’t want to rehash it, Michael Bolin of 247Sports relays. “It’s obviously gone now. If you are gonna ask questions about that whole thing, I’m not going to answer it,” the veteran power forward said. “We are happy to turn the page.”
  • Popovich took recently retired guard Manu Ginobili on his annual coaches’ retreat last week, ESPN’s Michael C. Wright tweets. Ginobili revealed earlier this month that Popovich tried to talk him into playing for another season.

Atlantic Notes: Nets’ Plan, Valanciunas, Sixers GM Search, Fizdale

The Nets have hit a crossroads, even though they’ll have ample salary-cap space to pursue at least two top-level free agents next summer, Anthony Puccio of opines. While the franchise’s reputation has improved and it plays in a top market, improved play on the court is essential to attract those types of players, Puccio continues. Another eight-game improvement, for example, probably wouldn’t move the needle for free agents like Kawhi Leonard and Kyrie Irving. If the Nets reach the midway point next season and aren’t in playoff contention, they may be faced with the difficult decision of moving assets for an All-Star level player or tanking in order to move into the lottery, Puccio adds.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas said the DeMar DeRozan trade to the Spurs shows the fickleness within the business, as Lithuanian reporter Donatas Urbonas tweets. “Maybe now while I’m talking all the papers are set and I’m moving to Detroit. You just never know in this business. DeMar was really great, loyal player. But I think you can’t blame anybody.” Valanciunas will return to Toronto on September 15 to prepare for training camp, Urbonas adds in another tweet.
  • The Sixers should have spent more time this summer pursuing young up-and-comers in executive roles around the league, rather than focusing on ‘elite GMs,’ Derek Bodner of The Athletic argues. Philadelphia’s GM search has dragged on for 11 weeks and now it reportedly will focus on candidates further down in their current team’s organizational chart. The Sixers should have been vetting those types of candidates much earlier, Bodner adds.
  • Hiring David Fizdale as head coach was the right move for the Knicks, Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders opines. His motivational skills and reputation as a player’s coach will help turn the franchise around, Davies continues. His commitment to building relationships with his players was reinforced by his recent trip to Latvia to visit his injured star, Kristaps Porzingis.

Texas Notes: Ginobili, DeRozan, Anderson, Jordan

Manu Ginobili‘s announcement on whether he plans to play another season could come this week, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Speaking at a basketball clinic, Ginobili’s older brother, Sepo, suggested the veteran Spurs guard is nearing a decision, tweets Spanish-language broadcaster Carlos Altamirano.

The 41-year-old is entering the second season of a two-year contract he signed with the Spurs last summer. He will make $2.5MM if he decides to play in the upcoming season, which would be his 17th in San Antonio.

There’s more NBA news out of Texas:

  • DeMar DeRozan feels like he has something to prove after being traded from the Raptors to the Spurs this summer, and Jakob Poeltl thinks that should be frightening for opponents, Orsborn relays in a separate piece. Poeltl came to San Antonio with DeRozan in the Kawhi Leonard deal and knows what his teammate is capable of. DeRozan is a four-time All-Star and may push his game to greater heights in response to the trade. “It’s a little bit scary, to be honest,” Poeltl said, “because I know what he can do when he has a chip on his shoulder, when he gets that extra motivation. Yeah, I think he’s going to be ready.”
  • The Rockets are running into dead ends in their quest to trade Ryan Anderson, according to Ashith Mathur of AmicoHoops. Teams are reluctant to take on Anderson’s contract, which pays him more than $20.4MM this season and nearly $21.3MM in 2019/20. “They’ve done everything short of posting an ad on Craigslist,” a rival executive said. Anderson slipped out of Houston’s rotation late last season and saw his scoring average fall below 10 points per game for the first time in eight years.
  • The addition of free agent center DeAndre Jordan solves two glaring problems for the Mavericks, notes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News in his latest player profile. Jordan should help with rebounding and offensive efficiency as he has led the NBA in effective field-goal percentage in five of the past six seasons.

Spurs Rumors: DeRozan, USA Basketball, Green, Ginobili

Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan has decided not to participate in Basketball Without Borders or the NBA Africa game, reports Chris Haynes of ESPN. DeRozan’s former boss, Raptors president Masai Ujiri, is a prominent ambassador for Basketball Without Borders, which will conduct camps leading up to the August 4 game in Pretoria, South Africa.

DeRozan has made critical comments about Ujiri and the Raptors organization in the wake of a trade last week that sent him to San Antonio after nine years in Toronto. DeRozan claims Uriri promised he wouldn’t be traded just days before the deal was completed.

There’s more Spurs new to pass along:

  • DeRozan plans to attend the USA Basketball mini-camp this week in Las Vegas, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. DeRozan sees it as an opportunity to get better acquainted with Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has taken over as head coach of USA Basketball.
  • Danny Green, who was sent to Toronto in the DeRozan deal, played much of last season with a groin tear that wasn’t diagnosed by the Spurs’ medical staff, relays Kyle Newport of Bleacher Report. In his “Inside the Green Room” podcast, Green says he suffered what he thought was a strained groin in December and he didn’t learn about the tear until his exit interview,  Although Green’s agent suggested a second opinion when the injury occurred, Green said he trusted team doctors and still claims they did “everything they could.” In light of his experience, Green adds that nobody should criticize Kawhi Leonard for obtaining a second opinion on his injured quad.
  • In the same podcast, Green speculates that Manu Ginobili will return to the Spurs for a 17th season, Orsborn writes a separate story. “With the way he’s been working out, with the way he’s been talking, it seems like we will probably be playing against him this year,” Green said. “I don’t know for sure, (but) he’s under contract and it doesn’t seem like he’s ready to give it up yet.” Ginobli, who will turn 41 on Saturday, has one year left on his current deal at $2.5MM if he decides against retirement. He appeared in 65 games last season and averaged 8.9 PPG.

DeMar DeRozan Discusses Trade, Ujiri, Raptors

Outside of some cryptic – and not-so-cryptic – social media posts, DeMar DeRozan had been relatively quiet over the last week since word broke that he’d be traded from the Raptors to the Spurs. However, various reports, along with those social media posts, suggested that DeRozan wasn’t thrilled with the deal, which caught him by surprise.

ESPN’s Chris Haynes caught up with the longtime Toronto star to discuss the deal and to address the perception that DeRozan had been told he wouldn’t be traded. The conversation is a good one, and is worth checking out in full for a number of interesting stories and comments from DeRozan, who talked about his place in Raptors history, his expectations for playing under Gregg Popovich, and how friends like Kyle Lowry and Drake reacted to the deal.

Here are a few of the other highlights from DeRozan’s conversation with Haynes:

On Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri saying of the previous iteration of the Raptors, “We kept giving them a chance and giving them a chance. At some point, we have to do something different”:

“I mean, when you say ‘them,’ that’s kind of frustrating. Like, who is ‘them’? You put the blame on just me and (Dwane) Casey? Because obviously we are the only two who had to suffer from the loss that we had in the Cleveland series.

“But it’s only one team that we lost to in the postseason — and that team went to the Finals every single year. With an opportunity approaching itself, my mindset and the rest of my teammates’ mindset was the only guy who was in the way of making that happen (LeBron James) leaves. Now we got a great opportunity to do something that we haven’t been able to do.

“At the end of the day, I gave everything I had to that team. And it showed, it showed in the progress we made as a team and me as an individual. So when you put that out there saying ‘gave them chances’ and ‘I have to do something’… It’s B.S. to me.”

On how he felt he was treated by Ujiri and the organization:

“I felt like I wasn’t treated with what I sacrificed for nine years, with the respect that I thought I deserved. By just giving me the say so of letting me know something’s going on or it’s a chance. That’s all I wanted. That’s all I wanted. I’m not saying, ‘You don’t have to trade me’ or … just let me know something is going on because I sacrificed everything. Just let me know. That’s all I asked. Everybody know I’m the most low-maintenance person in the world. Just let me know, so I can prepare myself for whatever my next chapter is, and I didn’t get that.”

On whether DeRozan had asked the team if he’d be traded:

“I asked, ‘Was I going to be traded? Was there anything going on, if it was a chance I’d be traded?’ And on multiple occasions it was, ‘No, it was nothing.’ If it is, then let the agent know or me know.”

On talking to Spurs forward Rudy Gay shortly after finding out about the trade:

“I was upset. And I called him, like, ‘Man, dude’s just traded me.’ Rudy was like ‘What? To who?’ And I was like ‘To y’all.’ He started laughing. He said ‘Look, I don’t mean to lie, but I got my boy back. You gon’ be aight, man. don’t worry about it.’ I was like, ‘Man, I shouldn’t have called you. I should have waited until it came out and you called me.’ It was cool to be able to call somebody that’s close in my life that’s on the Spurs too. So he made it easy.”

Latest On Kawhi Leonard

While the blockbuster trade between the Spurs and Raptors was formally announced nearly a week ago, the move is now officially official, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, who reports that Kawhi Leonard has passed his physical with Toronto. Danny Green and DeMar DeRozan also passed their respective physicals, Windhorst adds.

As we saw last summer when the Celtics and Cavaliers made their Kyrie Irving/Isaiah Thomas mega-deal, a problem with a player’s physical can prevent a trade from becoming official even after the teams have sent out press releases announcing the move.

In the case of the C’s and Cavs, Cleveland’s concern about Thomas’ health dragged out the process for another week and resulted in the Cavs receiving an extra draft pick in the swap. There will be no such adjustments to this year’s trade between the Raptors and Spurs.

Meanwhile, Leonard won’t attend Team USA’s non-mandatory mini-camp in Las Vegas this week, according to ESPN’s Chris Haynes, who tweets that the star forward will instead use the time to prepare for the transition to his new NBA team.

Leonard’s decision doesn’t come as a surprise. Prior to last week’s trade, reports indicated that he was considering attending the mini-camp to show prospective suitors that he was healthy, but now that he has been traded, that incentive to show up has faded. Considering Leonard missed all but nine games with an injury last season, it makes sense for him to sit out the session.

Stars like LeBron James and Stephen Curry also don’t plan on attending this week’s mini-camp, though DeRozan is expected to be present, per Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link). Of course, Team USA and Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich will also be there and will get a first-hand look at his newly-acquired All-Star.

Atlantic Notes: Lin, J. Parker, DeRozan, Hayward

Jeremy Lin was denying rumors of a possible trade the night before the Nets shipped him to Atlanta, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Fans of the veteran guard have been bombarding Brooklyn GM Sean Marks with message of disapproval, but Lewis states that the trade shouldn’t be considered a surprise. Lin, who is about to turn 30 and is coming off a major injury, doesn’t fit the Nets’ rebuilding timeline. Still, he was blindsided by the deal with the Hawks.

“These things can happen pretty quickly,” Marks explained. “Summer league, Vegas, maybe it’s a little like the winter meetings for baseball where everybody is there and it gives everybody an opportunity to continue to talk and hash some things out.”

Lin spent two seasons in Brooklyn, but missed 127 of 164 games with hamstring and knee injuries. He has a $12.5MM expiring contract, which gives him one season in Atlanta to try to revive his career before becoming a free agent next summer.

There’s more tonight from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets considered making an offer to free agent Jabari Parker before he signed with the Bulls, Lewis adds in the same story. They decided against it because of the price tag and a recent comment Parker made in a radio interview that “They don’t pay players to play defense.” Brooklyn opted for a pair of trades with the Nuggets and Suns that brought in Kenneth Faried and Jared Dudley.
  • Former Celtic Isaiah Thomas reached out to former Raptor DeMar DeRozan on social media after Toronto’s deal to acquire Kawhi Leonard was announced, relays Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “Learn from my story,” Thomas wrote on Twitter. “Loyalty is just a word.” Their experiences are similar as both were very popular and successful with their teams, but were dealt away when better players became available.
  • The Celtics opened a roster spot today by waiving Abdel Nader, but they may take their time in filling it, Washburn notes in the same piece. Restricted free agent Jabari Bird, the leading scorer for Boston’s summer league entry, would like to take it, but the Celtics prefer to keep him on a two-way contract. The team hasn’t used its $5.3MM mid-level exception and will likely wait to see if a bigger-name free agent becomes interested.
  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward showed fans the progress he has made with his fractured ankle in a workout video he posted today on his Instagram account.

Ujiri: There Was No Trade Talk With DeRozan

Raptors president Masai Ujiri claims he never told DeMar DeRozan he would not be traded, though Ujiri admits making a mistake talking at length with the All-Star shooting guard about his future with the franchise, according to an ESPN report. DeRozan fumed publicly over being traded to the Spurs as their centerpiece of the deal that landed Kawhi Leonard in Toronto.

“I had a conversation with DeMar at summer league, and I really want to leave it at that,” Ujiri said during a news conference Friday. “We spoke … I think maybe my mistake was talking about what we expected going forward from him. So, not necessarily talking about a trade but what I expect from him going forward, and I think that’s where the gap was.”

We have more regarding the blockbuster trade:

  • Ujiri simply couldn’t pass up the chance of acquiring Leonard, even though Leonard wants to play in Los Angeles when he can exercise his early termination contract option next summer. Ujiri feels it was worth the risk. “We’ve been doing this for how many years?,” Ujiri said, according to a transcript of his press conference posted by “You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again and when you get a chance to get a top 5 player – which isn’t very often – I think you have to jump on it.”
  • Leonard has not expressed any reservations about playing in Toronto, according to Ujiri, who will push hard to convince Leonard to re-sign with the Raptors. “I think there’s a lot to sell here,” Ujiri said. “Our team, our culture, our city, our ownership, we have everything here except a championship, in my humble opinion. I don’t think we lack anything in this city.’
  • DeRozan apparently wasn’t impressed by Ujiri’s apology, according to an Instagram post that was relayed by The Score (Twitter link).
  • Leonard has officially arrived in Toronto to take his physical. The team tweeted out a photo of him at their practice facility.

Latest On The Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan Trade

The Raptors had several conversations with Kawhi Leonard and his agent after Wednesday’s blockbuster trade, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet, who adds that the talks were “positive” and “forward-looking.” Leonard hasn’t taken his physical yet, reports Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link), but the team isn’t concerned and remains confident that he will pass it (Twitter link).

Toronto could opt to waive the physical, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said yesterday in an appearance on “Outside The Lines,” although that would obviously be a risky move. Leonard has 48 hours to report to the Raptors, but Windhorst notes the team could opt to extend that deadline. Team president Masai Ujiri is expected to address the media on the deal by the end of the week.

There’s more news to pass along on the biggest trade of the summer:

  • The Spurs were determined to get a scorer in exchange for Leonard, which is why the Raptors were able to get their attention with DeMar DeRozan, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. San Antonio wasn’t looking to begin the rebuilding process with a package of draft picks and unproven players. In addition, Jakob Poeltl provides a young interior presence for a team that starts 38-year-old Pau Gasol and 33-year-old LaMarcus Aldridge.
  • The Spurs lost leverage when LeBron James joined the Lakers without demanding another star accompany him, writes Zach Lowe of ESPN. Lingering injury concerns and Leonard’s open desire to play in his hometown of Los Angeles prevented the Spurs from getting a return more in line with his value. The Raptors now have several months to sell Leonard on the benefits of playing in Toronto, adds Lowe, who says if they get the feeling by Thanksgiving that he still plans to leave next summer, they can move him to the Lakers or Clippers for about what they paid for him.
  • Even though Leonard has made it clear he doesn’t want to play in Toronto, he represented the team’s best chance to acquire an elite talent, Lewenberg writes in a full story. Leonard also came at a reasonable price, as Ujiri didn’t have to part with his three best young prospects in OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Delon Wright and held onto all his draft picks after 2019.
  • The Spurs traded one unhappy player for another and will have to work to develop a positive relationship with DeRozan, observes Sam Amick of USA Today. DeRozan felt betrayed by the Raptors, posting “Be told one thing & the outcome another. Can’t trust em. Ain’t no loyalty in this game” as part of an Instagram message. San Antonio may rely on assistant coach Ime Udoka, a former workout partner of DeRozan, to help smooth things over.
  • With Leonard and Tony Parker both gone and Manu Ginobili contemplating retirement, the Spurs are moving into a new era, notes Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated. The changes make a 22nd consecutive trip to the playoffs look like an uncertain prospect, he adds.