Fred VanVleet

Finalists For NBA Awards Announced

The top three finalists for each of this year’s NBA awards are being released on tonight’s TNT pre-game show. The trophies will be presented June 25 at the league’s official awards show.

Here’s an ongoing list that we will update as the candidates are announced, along with links to our staff’s picks for each honor:

Rookie of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY


Most Improved Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP


Sixth Man of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man


Coach of the Year

  • Dwane Casey (Raptors)
  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Brad Stevens (Celtics)

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COY


Defensive Player of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY


Most Valuable Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

Injury Updates: Curry, Porter, VanVleet, Mbah a Moute

Stephen Curry is officially listed as questionable for the start of the Warriors‘ series with the Pelicans tomorrow night, relays Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News.

The star guard, who is recovering from a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, was able to go through a full-court scrimmage today for the first time since suffering the injury March 23. However, the team isn’t ready to commit to playing him in Game 1, and Curry calls his chances “50-50.”

“Still to be determined. They come up with those snazzy words for a reason – doubtful, questionable, probable,” he said. “Just trying to work my way up whatever I need to do with whatever [trainer] Chelsea [Lane], the rest of the athletic training staff and coaching staff need to see before I can get back out there.”

Curry and Lane spent about 20 minutes after practice talking to coach Steve Kerr, who said Curry will be re-examined tonight and after Saturday’s morning shootaround before making a decision.

“It’s not as simple as, ‘Does he feel good? Then throw him out there,’” Kerr said. “It’s more about, ‘Let’s give him a few days and see how he responds from it.’”

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

  • Wizards forward Otto Porter, who is out indefinitely following a surgical procedure today on his left leg, has been experiencing pain since Game 4 of the series with Toronto, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. The decision to perform a lower leg fasciotomy to address a build-up of blood flow in the contusion area was made after reviewing the results of an MRI conducted today. Kelly Oubre will take Porter’s spot in the starting lineup, with Tomas Satoransky and Ty Lawson both expected to get more playing time, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk (Twitter link). “We need Kelly on the floor,” coach Scott Brooks said to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “Now that Otto is out, we need Kelly to give us great minutes. … It’s a great opportunity for him.” (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors will have guard Fred VanVleet available for tonight’s Game 6 with the Wizards, Lewenberg tweets. VanVleet has been limited to three minutes in the series because of soreness in his shoulder stemming from a collision on the final night of the season. “I don’t know what to expect,” said coach Dwane Casey, “but we’ll get him in.”
  • The Rockets had hoped to get Luc Mbah a Moute back for the start of their second-round series, but it appears that won’t happen, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Sidelined by a dislocated shoulder, Mbah a Moute won’t be re-evaluated until next week, although he was able to participate in the non-contact part of today’s practice, said coach Mike D’Antoni.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue still wasn’t sure of George Hill‘s  status when he met with reporters before tonight’s game, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Hill, who has been experiencing back spasms, warmed up before the game with a heat wrap on his back, notes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Twitter link).

Injury Updates: Hayward, Embiid, George, Anderson

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is ready for the next step in his rehab process, writes Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge announced this morning that Hayward is going to Indianapolis to work with a top specialist in running mechanics. The goal of the visit is to help him improve his form as he continues to recover from a fractured left ankle. The Celtics and Hayward both have prior experience with the specialist.

Ainge added that Hayward continues to make encouraging progress from the brutal opening-night injury that wiped out his first season in Boston. Hayward was shown jogging on the court with Celtics trainer Jason Smeathers in a recent video.

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

  • Sixers coach Brett Brown told reporters a “unified effort” is being conducted to determine when Joel Embiid can return to the court, tweets Ian Begley of ESPN. The team, Embiid’s representatives and the doctor who performed his facial surgery are working together to monitor his progress. Begley adds that Embiid, who had the operation March 31, still hasn’t been medically cleared for full contact and doesn’t have a target date to start playing again. Embiid will go through a scripted practice today, his first since suffering a fracture of the orbital bone, relays Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Embiid wrote on Instagram Monday that he is “sick and tired of being babied” regarding the injury.
  • Paul George was held out of contact in today’s practice because of a right hip contusion, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). George will receive further evaluation after Wednesday’s shootaround.
  • Rockets forward Ryan Anderson is on the practice court today for the first time since spraining his ankle, tweets Jerry Zgoda of The Star-Tribune. Anderson, who missed the final four games of the regular season and the playoff opener against the Timberwolves, said the ankle remains swollen and he’ll see how it responds before deciding if he can play tomorrow. “It’s one more shooter that you would have on the floor,” coach Mike D’Antoni said to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle about getting Anderson back. “If a couple guys aren’t going well, we have another guy to go to. It gives us a lot better chance.”
  • Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has been downgraded to doubtful for tonight’s game with the Wizards, reports Jared Greenburg of NBA TV (Twitter link). VanVleet has been experiencing soreness in his shoulder since a collision in the team’s final regular season game, but X-rays taken this week were negative.

Atlantic Notes: James, Ibaka, Monroe

Speculation about LeBron James signing with the Sixers is a tease, Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. The scribe opines that it’s more likely the superstar either signs with Los Angeles or, more likely, stays in Cleveland.

Ford writes that it would play well for the Ohio product to stay home after having already departed the city once in his career. What’s more, he adds that the King’s vision of the Sixers may be slightly different than what Philly sees. Technically speaking, much of the club’s future hinges on a big man with a troubling injury concerns and a rookie with holes in his game.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing that James looks elsewhere, however, it could be beneficial for the Sixers to build organically from within rather than inking a ringer to take them from The Process to The Endgame.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • After a year with the Raptors, it’s still difficult to gauge Serge Ibaka‘s value, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes. The big man has established himself as a more imposing shooter but has been inconsistent so far in 2017/18.
  • The Celtics understand that there will be situations where Greg Monroe can have a major impact on basketball games. The 265-pound big man recently seized an opportunity to impress his new teammates, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes.
  • In an in-depth feature profile, Eric Koreen of The Athletic breaks down the circumstances that brought Fred VanVleet to the Raptors as an undrafted free agent out of Wichita State. These days the 24-year-old is a vital piece of the club’s revered second-unit.

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Toronto Raptors

Last summer, the Raptors made the decision to commit to the core that powered them to four consecutive playoff berths. As a result, the organization is somewhat financially handcuffed for the foreseeable future.

Given such financial constraints – the team already has $126MM on its books for 2018/19 – Toronto will need continue to rely heavily on the starters that the roster has been built around.

That said, a conscious decision to speed up the game has helped the team show signs of growth in other areas, and in addition to an impressive starting five, the Raps suddenly boast one of the more intriguing second units in the league.

While many of Toronto’s key rotation players are under team control through 2018/19 and beyond, not all of them are, and retaining each and every one of them may prove difficult.

Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors verticalFred VanVleet, PG, 24 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $1.8MM deal in 2016
The undrafted guard out of Wichita State has proved to be one of the driving factors behind Toronto’s impressive second unit. His ability to handle the offense and knock down threes has helped facilitate the Raps’ transition from an iso-heavy squad to one that swings the ball and gets everybody involved. While VanVleet may have been the team’s No. 3 point guard to start the season, early returns from 2017/18 show that there is plenty of room in the rotation for both VanVleet and Delon Wright. For tax reasons, don’t expect the Raps to break the bank for the restricted free agent, but it’s a safe bet that the sharpshooter will land a bigger deal than his first NBA contract. Even if that doesn’t happen in Toronto.

Bruno Caboclo, SF, 22 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $7MM deal in 2014
Toronto’s famously raw project hasn’t quite shown the growth that members of the team’s front office hoped they’d see when they inexplicably drafted him with their 2014 first-round pick. Caboclo remains as tantalizing a physical prospect as any, but hasn’t even reached a point where he can thrive in the G League on a consistent basis. There may still be some glimmer of promise in the 22-year-old out of Brazil, but again, the Raps may not want to venture further into luxury tax territory to chase it.

Lucas Nogueira, C, 25 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $8.5MM deal in 2014
While he may have a ceiling as a high-energy reserve, Nogueira’s length and athleticism can be a plus for team’s looking to add cheap frontcourt depth. Nogueira will be a restricted free agent in the summer and could well find a team interested in taking a flyer on him. In that scenario, it won’t be hard for opposing teams to outbid the Raptors, especially considering that they’ve had success with Jakob Poeltl serving as the team’s primary backup big.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: VanVleet, Nets, Booker

The Raptors will have a welcomed dilemma on their hands when Delon Wright returns from a shoulder injury. Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes that initial third-string point guard Fred VanVleet has made a strong case for regular minutes.

VanVleet has become an integral part of the lineup the Raptors have been closing games with during their current five-game streak. The gritty, undrafted guard has been providing skills that Dwane Casey loves while shooting an impressive 8-17 from beyond the arc.

I think we have the opportunity with Delon, Fred, Norman Powell,” starting Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said of the fluctuating lineups. “We’ve got guys who can play basketball and guys who are very talented and play extremely hard. You never know, whoever has it going is going to finish the game.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets opted to take a flyer on Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas this week but the aspect of the trade that they’re most excited for could very well be the second round pick, Zach Lowe of ESPN says (via Nets Daily). General manager Sean Marks has been busy the last few years, acquiring second-rounders to replenish those that his predecessor traded away.
  • The latest addition to the Sixers considers himself to be a bigger version of a current fan favorite. Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype recently caught up with Trevor Booker and asked him what he thinks he’ll be able to contribute to his new team. “I’ll bring a lot of passion; I’m a passionate player. I’m a guy that’s going to be aggressive, provide energy and be a pest on defense. I’m pretty much a bigger T.J. McConnell.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Russell, VanVleet, Hardaway

Despite being in the midst of a 15-game win streak, the Celtics aren’t satisfied, reports Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com and Chris Forsberg of ESPN. While arguably sporting the league’s best defense, head coach Brad Stevens doesn’t believe his team’s offense is where it needs to be. “We got a lot to improve on [offensively],” Stevens said.

The Celtics shot only 32.9% from the field in their win against the Warriors, and while they have leaned on a league-leading defense giving up a mere 95.4 points per 100 possessions, the C’s are currently 27th in the NBA in FG%. We haven’t played well enough to consider this win streak to be valid, in my opinion,” Stevens said. “We’ve figured out ways to win games (but) we’ve got to be better, and we know that.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • According to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, one way the Celtics can create more offense is to play Marcus Morris more with the second unit. Morris scored 14 points in Saturday’s win against Atlanta.
  • The Nets are trying to remain positive and maintain a “next man up” mentality after losing D’Angelo Russell to a right knee injury for the foreseeable future, writes Anthony Puccio for NetsDaily.com. The Nets also lost Jeremy Lin to a right knee injury after he suffered a ruptured patella tendon in the season opener, but head coach Kenny Atkinson is confident in the players being called on to step up. “We have a good group of wings, and guards,” said Atkinson. “I think we’ve developed sufficiently enough to withstand injuries.”
  • After going undrafted following a successful four-year college career at Wichita State, second-year guard Fred VanVleet is finding his niche with the Raptors as a fighter on the defensive end of the floor, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star“He’s a grinder, he’s a survivor, he’s a worker, he’s had to fight for everything he’s ever gotten in his life,” says head coach Dwane Casey. “He gets into the guys, he’s a little pitbull from that standpoint. He brings everything to the table that you need.”
  • Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek believes that Tim Hardaway Jr. is suffering from something similar to plantar fasciitis in his left foot, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Hardaway Jr., who removed himself from last week’s loss to Toronto and sat out of yesterday’s practice, plans to play through the pain in spite of the risk. “It could help if he rests,” Hornacek said. “But Tim wants to play. He’s a tough kid. He’s a competitor. He feels that he’s got enough for us that he can go.”

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Raptors, McDermott

The Nets‘ two best players may very well play the same position so preseason will serve as a good indication of how head coach Kenny Atkinson plans to utilize the tandem. Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes that hoops fans could see the pair of point guards employed together at the beginning and end of halves.

In 24.5 minutes per game for the Nets last season, Lin emerged as a top offensive priority before an injury cut his campaign short. This year, however, the 29-year-old will share backcourt duties with Russell, the 2015 No. 2 overall pick, and the chief haul in general manager Sean Marks‘ deal to take on Timofey Mozgov‘s contract.

I’d like to have one of those guys at the point the whole game. That’d be pretty nice,” Atkinson said when asked how he’ll divvy minutes between the two. “I’m not going to say definitely that’s how it’s going to play out, but that’s in my mind, keeping D’Angelo or Jeremy at the point the whole game.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Raptors’ Affiliate Wins NBA D-League Championship

Thursday was a good night for the Raptors’ organization. Not only did the NBA squad pull out a Game 6 victory in Milwaukee to make it through to the second round, but Toronto’s D-League affiliate, Raptors 905, won its first NBADL championship.

The Raptors’ affiliate dropped the first game of the D-League’s best-of-three Finals to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ NBADL team, on Sunday. However, the club bounced back with a win on Tuesday and a resounding 122-96 victory on Thursday night to clinch the series.

While many of the contributors to the championship roster aren’t under contract with the Raptors, former first-round picks Bruno Caboclo and Pascal Siakam played major roles in the team’s postseason run, as did undrafted rookie Fred VanVleet. The trio combined for 76 points on Tuesday, with Caboclo (31 points, 11 rebounds) and VanVleet (28 points, 14 assists) leading the way. All three players remain under team control for the Raptors through at least next season.

While D-League excellence doesn’t necessarily translate to NBA success, the development of their young players is certainly a positive sign for the Raptors, who could be at risk of losing NBA rotation pieces this summer — Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, P.J. Tucker, and Patrick Patterson will all be eligible for free agency, and re-signing them would likely take Toronto deep into luxury-tax territory.

Meanwhile, the championship win is another major step forward for Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse, who was named the D-League’s Coach of the Year last week. Stackhouse will be looking to join the NBA’s head coaching ranks at some point, and his first-year performance for Toronto’s affiliate will look pretty good on his résumé.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the Raptors’ affiliate figures to officially go down as the last D-League champion in league history. Starting next season, the NBADL will be re-branded as the NBAGL — the NBA Gatorade League.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 4/25/17

Here are Tuesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • In what could be the last D-League assignments of the season, Bruno Caboclo, Pascal Siakam, and Fred VanVleet have been sent to the Raptors 905 by the Raptors, the team announced today (Twitter link). Toronto’s D-League affiliate will look to extend the NBADL Finals to a third and deciding game with a win tonight, and VanVleet – who appeared briefly at the end of the Raptors’ win over Milwaukee on Monday – will Caboclo and Siakam as added reinforcements.
  • The Raptors 905’s opponent in the D-League Finals, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, likely won’t make any moves today — Kyle Wiltjer, Chinanu Onuaku, and Isaiah Taylor have been assigned to the Vipers for the last 10 days and will presumably remain with the Rockets‘ D-League affiliate as the club looks to clinch the NBADL title.