DeMar DeRozan

Western Notes: Thompson, Spurs, Allen

Klay Thompson would be open to a meeting with the Clippers should the Warriors not present him with a max salary offer at the start of free agency, Adrian Wojnarowski said on the network’s free agency special. Thompson is expected to re-sign in Golden State.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • San Antonio could be a fit for Trevor Ariza, Jabari Young of The Athletic writes. Ariza earned $15MM last season on a one-year deal and the Spurs had interest in him last summer, Young hears. Ariza is a candidate for the mid-level exception.
  • The Spurs have kept a close eye on Amir Johnson since he played in Toronto, Young adds in the same piece. Young speculates that the 32-year-old big man could be a fit in San Antonio, citing his close relationship with DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay.
  • Grayson Allen, who was traded to the Grizzlies in the Mike Conley deal, aims to improve his defense during Summer League, as he tells David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “When I tell you I’m going to work on defense this summer, I don’t think many people picture guys in summer workouts doing defensive slides,” Allen said. “…But for me it’s going to be continuing to work on that footwork on the defensive end, getting my body in great shape, great conditioning going into summer league and the season.”

Knicks Notes: Free Agency, Fine, Iguodala, Kings Trade

The Knicks are hoping to land at least one of the marquee free agents — Kevin DurantKawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving — but if they come up short, they won’t eat up their cap space with multi-year contracts, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. They don’t want to take on a bad contract in order to accumulate more assets. It’s uncertain if they’d trade for a player with a big contract in his walk year.

Instead, they will most likely sign free agents to one-year deals, much like the Lakers did last summer after LeBron James committed to them, in order to retain cap flexibility. The New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reiterates that sentiment, adding that the Knicks could shift gears and go after Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Draymond Green, Ben Simmons and Pascal Siakam next summer.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • The team was fined $50K by the league for violating rules regarding equal access for media, according to a league press release. The Knicks did not allow Bondy access to their post-draft press conference on Friday while allowing all other credentialed media who cover the team to attend. The organization has agreed to comply with media access rules in the future.
  • Warriors forward Andre Iguodala took a jab at the organization and its pursuit of major free agents, including his teammate Durant, Ethan Sears of the New York Post relays. In an interview with CNBC, Iguodala said, “Nobody’s gonna sign with the Knicks, sorry.”
  • The Knicks gave up $1MM in cash along with the No. 55 pick to the Kings on Thursday, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. New York moved up to the No. 47 spot and chose University of Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis. The Kings selected Virginia’s Kyle Guy.

Popovich Expected To Continue Coaching Spurs

Gregg Popovich is expected to return to the Spurs next season, with one member of the team’s staff telling Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express News that he has “no doubt” about the legendary coach’s future. Popovich’s current contract expired when San Antonio’s playoff run ended last night. He will coach Team USA in the FIBA World Cup this summer, but has remained guarded about his plans beyond that.

“I’m a head coach in the NBA,” Popovich said in response to a pre-game question Saturday on whether he was considering retirement. “I don’t think about what that means in the future.”

At age 70, Popovich still embraces the challenges of coaching and had a particularly good time this season, notes Jabari Young of The Athletic. In looking for clues about his future, Young cites a quote from Popovich before a March game in Boston.

“This is actually one of the more enjoyable seasons,” he said. “It’s been fun to watch Bryn Forbes develop, and Davis Bertans, and Derrick White and so forth. It’s satisfying.”

The chance to reach a milestone may also play into Popovich’s thought process. He moved into third place on the career victories list this season with 1,245 and is just 90 away from catching Don Nelson for the top spot.

There’s more on the offseason decisions facing the Spurs:

  • Rudy Gay will be the team’s only significant free agent this summer, but San Antonio has to decide how much it wants to invest in a player who will be 33 by the start of training camp. The Spurs will have Early Bird rights on Gay, Young notes, meaning they can offer up to a 75% raise on his $10MM contract. Gay will be eligible for a one- to four-year deal starting at about $17MM per season.
  • Regardless of what happens with Gay, San Antonio will likely be operating above the salary cap but under the tax line, Young adds. That will give the team a $9.2MM mid-level exception to use on the free agent market.
  • It’s not too early to start thinking about DeMar DeRozan‘s free agency, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. DeRozan can decide next summer to opt out of his $27.7 million salary for 2020/21, and could join Draymond Green and possibly Anthony Davis as the top names in an otherwise sub-par free agent class. The Spurs can eliminate that possibility by reworking DeRozan’s contract when he becomes eligible for a four-year, $149.1MM extension on July 6.
  • The Spurs also face a difficult decision on Dejounte Murray, who will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension through October 21, according to Marks. Murray appears to have a bright future, but he is coming off a torn ACL that wiped virtually his entire season. Jakob Poeltl is also eligible for a rookie scale extension, but by waiting on both players and DeRozan, the Spurs could have up to $30MM in cap room to spend next summer.
  • Patty Mills will be eligible for a veteran extension on August 4, and LaMarcus Aldridge becomes eligible on October 1, Marks adds.

Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan Fined $25,000

Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan has been fined $25,000 for throwing the game ball at official Scott Foster during Game 4 of their first round series against Denver, the NBA announced today.

The incident occurred with 5:01 remaining in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game, with DeRozan disagreeing on a charge call and tossing the ball past Foster into the spectator stands. DeRozan was assessed one technical foul and ejected upon his decision.

San Antonio lost the game 117-103 and will now travel to Denver for Game 5 on Tuesday, a pivotal contest that’ll help determine which team wins the series and advances to the second round.

On the night, DeRozan finished with 19 points, five rebounds and five assists in 34 minutes of work, registering a minus-16 net rating. The Spurs struggled defensively and allowed the Nuggets to shoot a scorching 48% from 3-point range on their home floor.

Raptors Notes: Gasol, DeRozan, Ujiri

Leading into the trade deadline, the Raptors‘ biggest splash was the acquisition of veteran center Marc Gasol. The three-time All-Star has appeared in four games with Toronto since the trade, all off the bench.

After over a decade in Memphis, Gasol has had to not only adjust to a new team but also playing in a new country and learning a new playbook. Speaking to Sportsnet.ca’s Dave Zarum, Gasol explained how he has adjusted to his new surroundings.

“We’ve had three games with three different point guards [Fred VanVleet, Patrick McCaw, and Jeremy Lin]. That alone is an adjustment within the adjustment that you have to make on the fly,” Gasol said. “Thankfully, I know now 100% all of the plays. OK, 90% all of the plays. But I know them pretty well, so now it’s trying to understand what the team is looking for. How can I be effective within the flow of the game?”

Gasol admitted that it was tough to part with the Grizzlies but the opportunity to compete for a championship eases that burden. In his four appearances, the Spaniard has played just under 20 minutes per game, averaging 8.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG. As he becomes more acclimated to his new digs, Gasol expects his contributions to follow suit.

“I’m not a rah-rah guy, I’m not somebody who will get into anybody’s business,” Gasol said. “I’m pretty laid back and I stay in my lane a lot. But I want to win. At the end of the day it’s about winning and competing and making this team the best possible.”

Check out more Raptors notes below:
  • DeMar DeRozan played his first game at the Scotiabank Arena (formerly the Air Canada Centre) as a visitor on Friday with the Spurs. The former face of the franchise has detailed his roller-coaster emotions following last summer’s trade but his return to Toronto was about acceptance rather than vengeance, ESPN’s Michael C. Wright writes.
  • The Raptors have been a perennial postseason team that has been on the verge of a potentially championship-winning run. However, under Masai Ujiri this season, Toronto has shown the willingness to go for it with shrewd moves to put the franchise on the brink of a title, Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders opines.
  • Speaking of Ujiri — the first African top executive of any of North America’s top four major sports leagues — his initiative to help those on his home continent has become part of his basketball goals, ESPN’s Anthony Olivieri writes.

Raptors Rumors: Leonard, Lowry, George

Despite playing only half their games so far this season with both of their All-Stars – Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry – in the lineup, the Raptors have one of the NBA’s best records. Their 30-12 mark puts them a half-game ahead of the 28-11 Bucks, though they technically trail Milwaukee by percentage points.

With Lowry now back in the lineup after battling back and hip issues and Leonard potentially ready to start playing in back-to-backs soon, the Raptors are well positioned for a big second half. And the team’s performance the rest of the way – and in the postseason – could go a long way toward determining whether Leonard remains in Toronto beyond this season, a subject Chris Mannix explores in his latest piece for SI.com.

Mannix’s article features several interesting notes and tidbits on Kawhi and the Raptors, so we’ll round up a few highlights here:

  • According to Mannix, the Raptors are prepared to offer Leonard a five-year, maximum-salary offer – or any other deal he’s interested in – this offseason, and don’t view that sort of an investment as a risk.
  • While Leonard’s upcoming free agency is rarely discussed in the Raptors’ locker room, everyone knows how important his decision will be in determining the future of the franchise, per Mannix. “We need him to stay,” Serge Ibaka said. “He keeps everybody safe — no one is safe if he leaves.”
  • Even before the Raptors acquired Leonard, president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri had been itching to shake up his roster, according to Mannix, who reports that Ujiri approached the Thunder last season about a possible swap centered around DeMar DeRozan and Paul George.
  • Speaking of George, Mannix writes that Raptors officials have privately acknowledged that the Thunder’s success in retaining George emboldened them to roll the dice on Leonard. Of course, George’s bond with Russell Westbrook contributed in large part to PG13’s decision to remain in Oklahoma City. It remains to be seen if Kyle Lowry can be that same sort of recruiter, given his “frosty” relationship with Ujiri, who traded away his best friend DeRozan.
  • When the NBA issued a memo last month reminding teams of its anti-tampering rules, it was viewed by most as a response to LeBron James‘ comments about Anthony Davis. However, several clubs, including Toronto, interpreted the memo’s reference to “intentional” and “repeated” social courtesies as a message to the Clippers, says Mannix. The Clips have reportedly been sending officials, including president of basketball ops Lawrence Frank, to a number of Raptors games this season as they eye Leonard as a 2019 free agent target.

Raptors/Spurs Notes: Kawhi, DeRozan, Popovich

The Raptors and Spurs are set to face one another on Thursday night for the first time since consummating their blockbuster offseason trade nearly six months ago. Predictably, discussion this week has centered on Kawhi Leonard‘s return to San Antonio and DeMar DeRozan‘s first game against the team with whom he thought he’d spend the rest of his career.

In his latest deep dive for ESPN.com, however, Tim Bontemps focuses less on last summer’s trade and more on the Raptors’ plan to keep Leonard beyond this season. Within his piece, Bontemps shares a series of interesting details on Nick Nurse‘s first meeting with Kawhi, the Raptors’ strategy for managing their superstar’s health, and the franchise’s belief that it has built the sort of culture in Toronto that will help convince Leonard to re-sign.

“When we came aboard six years ago, we wanted to bring this organization to a level where you can make this pitch,” Toronto GM Bobby Webster said. “So you have strength in excellence around the organization — the basketball side, the coaching staff, the medical and support staff, obviously ownership — to where when we have a superstar player, an MVP-candidate-type player, now we can go to him and say, ‘We are really confident in who we are, we’re really proud of what we’ve built, and these are all the reasons why we think you should stay.'”

According to Bontemps, the “popular opinion among league executives” for now is that Leonard’s decision could come down to the Raptors vs. the Clippers. While the Raps are doing their best to sell Kawhi on the city and the franchise, the Clippers can offer two things Toronto can’t — an opportunity to return home to Los Angeles and year-round warm weather. It remains to be seen how important those factors will be and what other factors Leonard will seriously weigh, and he’s not offering any hints.

“I’m not thinking about that,” Leonard told Bontemps when asked about his upcoming free agency. “I’m focused on right now, what this is bringing for me and focused on the opportunity that I have here and what we can do this season. Later down the road, that’s when I’ll make my decision.”

Here’s more on the Raptors and Spurs, with a focus on the two stars involved in July’s blockbuster:

  • Speaking to reporters, including Michael C. Wright of ESPN.com, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich downplayed the importance of Thursday’s reunion, calling it a “waste of our time” to rehash the details of Leonard’s exit from San Antonio. “You move on in life,” he said. “We’re not going to redo what’s happened in the past in any way, shape or form. It’s of no consequence at this point, and it does no good to go backward and talk about this, that or the other.”
  • For what it’s worth, within his story on Leonard (detailed above), Bontemps reports that Popovich, who said in November that Leonard “wasn’t a leader,” has regretted making those comments — and the way that they were perceived.
  • Jabari Young of The Athletic takes a look at Thursday’s reunion from both sides, citing one source close to Leonard who says the All-Star forward doesn’t hold any hard feeling toward the Spurs. Meanwhile, a source close to DeRozan offered the following assessment of DeMar’s impressions of the Spurs’ organization: “He has never experienced the amount of professionalism from a day-to-day basis from a coach, GM, or organization that he has in his short term in San Antonio.”
  • DeRozan spoke a little more this week about unexpectedly being traded by the Raptors, telling reporters – including Eric Koreen of The Athletic – that he had wanted to remain with the team and “break every single record” in Toronto. “Sometimes you don’t get in life the opportunity to marry the woman you felt was the woman of your dreams,” DeRozan said. “So, it just happens that way.”

Texas Notes: Clark, Carter, DeRozan

The emergence of Gary Clark has allowed the Rockets to move on from Carmelo Anthony as the 24-year-old has established himself as a key reserve on the Houston roster.

Clark has averaged 4.2 PPG and 3.4 RPG for the Rockets in 13 games as his defense and athleticism has paid dividends. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes, Clark did not allow himself to be swept up by the celebrity of the NBA, instead focusing on making an impact. And after cheering for Anthony growing up, Clark ended up cutting into the veteran’s playing time in Houston.

“Crap, that was my favorite player at one point,” Clark said. “But it literally didn’t matter who was there. I was going to make sure I got on the court, because I know what I bring to the table.”

It remains unclear if Clark’s long-range shooting will become consistent, but the early results have been promising.

Check out more notes surrounding Texas’ NBA teams:

  • The Carmelo experiment did not work out in Houston and now the Rockets need to find a third key piece next to Chris Paul and James Harden to make a run, Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer writes. Massive extensions to Paul and Clint Capela zapped the Rockets of financial flexibility, but the team will need to find a player who can space the floor and play defense.
  • Had the Mavericks not traded up to end up Luka Doncic, the team would have selected Wendell Carter, who went seventh overall to the Bulls, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. “If we’d have stayed at No. 5, he’d have been the guy, if he was still there,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “He had a great workout for us. I see him as another coming of an Al Horford type player, a guy that’s both a force on the inside and he’s going to be a force shooting the ball from midrange and the 3. He affects the game in many ways.”
  • Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Abrams has an in-depth feature on the Spurs‘ newest star DeMar DeRozan. The story focuses on DeRozan’s adjustment from being the star for the Raptors to his new team in San Antonio. Abrams also noted that DeRozan learned of the trade while he was in a Jack in The Box parking lot.

Latest On Jimmy Butler Trade To Philadelphia

The Timberwolves and Sixers agreed on Saturday to one of the biggest trades in recent years. Jimmy Butler is headed to Philadelphia, while Dario Saric and Robert Covington headline the package that Minnesota is receiving.

We have more news to pass along on this blockbuster:

  • Butler had shown an interest in Philadelphia long before Saturday. Butler scheduled a free agent meeting with the Sixers  in 2015, when they were still in the early stages of building a contender, before he re-signed with the Bulls, Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated tweets.
  • If Butler agrees to a max contract with Philadelphia, Markelle Fultz‘s long-term prospects with the organization would be in serious doubt, Zach Lowe of ESPN tweets. There are plenty of other questions regarding how Fultz fits with core group that Philadelphia has assembled and the team’s brass will closely monitor how all the personalities mesh, Lowe adds. The top 2017 pick is averaging just 8.9 PPG and 3.6 APG  in 24.3 MPG and will now have to compete with another All-Star for touches.
  • Minnesota avoided sending Butler to a Western Conference contender, one of the goals it set in trade talks involving the disgruntled swingman, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN notes (Twitter link). The Rockets had been mentioned prominently as a possible destination but even a package of four future first-round picks couldn’t entice the Timberwolves to send him to a conference rival. The Sixers became the most viable trade partner once the Heat pulled Josh Richardson out of trade discussions, Wojnarowski adds.
  • The Sixers were prepared to offer a similar package to the Spurs to acquire Kawhi Leonard this summer, Fischer reports in another tweet. Philadelphia was willing to give up Saric, Covington and a first-rounder to San Antonio before the Spurs opted to deal Leonard to the Raptors. The Spurs’ decision to decline the Sixers’ offer thus far seems like a wise move, considering Saric’s early shooting slump (30% from long range), Jabari Young of The Athletic tweets. Toronto’s package, with DeMar DeRozan as the centerpiece, has helped San Antonio get off to a 6-4 start despite a rash of injuries.
  • Buyout candidates will be even more intrigued to join the Sixers for the stretch run, Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype tweets. Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli joined Philadelphia in that fashion last season, Kennedy adds, and the incentive for players seeking a ring to hop on Philadelphia’s bandwagon has dramatically increased.
  • The Timberwolves considered three offers from different teams before picking the Sixers’ package, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets.
  • Philadelphia will likely move J.J. Redick back into the starting lineup because his 3-point shooting will be needed on the first unit, Keith Smith of RealGM tweets.
  • The earliest that Butler could make his Sixers debut, once the trade is finalized, is Wednesday against the Magic, Wojnarowski adds in another tweet.

Kyle Lowry Talks DeRozan, Kawhi, Raptors

When the Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs in July in a package for Kawhi Leonard, it broke up one of the NBA’s most likeable duos, leaving Kyle Lowry in Toronto while his best friend DeRozan headed to San Antonio.

Speaking to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated on Wednesday night after the Raptors beat the Kings, Lowry opened up about that trade and about his club’s offseason. While Lowry’s unwillingness to speak to reporters about the deal at a Team USA mini-camp during the summer was viewed as a sign of his possible unhappiness, the veteran point guard tells Spears that he never does any interviews in the summer, and that his silence wasn’t directly related to that trade.

Acknowledging that he was “a little emotional” when he first learned of the blockbuster deal, Lowry said that “everyone made peace with it” and is in a good place now. He also shared his thoughts on several other topics in his conversation with Spears. Here are some of the highlights:

On the eventual returns to Toronto for former head coach Dwane Casey and DeRozan:

“I’m not looking forward to seeing coach next week. It’s weird. Then seeing DeMar is going to be different. It’s going to weird. And I’m sure they are going to show a video tribute, and I might get emotional. I won’t cry. I won’t do that. We have always talked about it by saying that we’re going to reflect on our careers when we are done and sitting on our porches chilling sipping on some lemonade.”

On how he feels about the Raptors’ changes now that the dust has settled:

“Our record is good. We’re playing well. For me, it’s long-, long-term. Stay level[-headed]. You can’t worry about this and that. You got to make sure that when the time comes, April, May, June, that we are still playing. That’s when you get asked about what the team is and what this year is. Right now, we’re just 12 games in. It’s too early to tell. We got to just stay the path.”

On playing with Leonard:

“He’s a great player. He’s still getting his feet under him. I still believe he has some work to do. Like today, he was a little off a little bit. But he’s doing his job and he is going to continue to get better.”

On whether he still wanted to be in Toronto after the team traded DeRozan:

“That’s a good question. I just wanted to be where I could win and I was wanted. And it was here. They didn’t trade me. So, I guess this was the situation I was going to be in. And as a professional with the situation I am going to be in, I’m going to do my job.”