Fred VanVleet

Atlantic Notes: VanVleet, Simmons, Durant, Celtics

There’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding the Raptors and who’ll be on the team after the trade deadline but the present group survived a seven-game road trip with four victories, Michael Grange of Sportsnet notes. One of the starters in the trade rumor mill, Fred VanVleet, said the team may be turning a corner.

“We’re a good team. We got a long way to go, we got a lot of work to do but we’ve been trending upwards as of late,” said VanVleet, who can become a free agent this summer. “We can’t really worry about the past, we just got to focus on the future, whatever the future holds, you know, just take it one day at a time.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Is there any possibility of Ben Simmons getting moved before the trade deadline? ESPN’s Bobby Marks said on the Keyshawn, JWill and Max show that Simmons has no trade value right now (hat tip to ESPN’s Nick Friedell). Marks also said that if the Nets try to trade Kevin Durant,  their return would be greater this summer than it would be before Thursday’s trade deadline.
  • Speaking of Simmons and Durant, sources told Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News that Durant has been less than enthralled with Simmons. Simmons missed his fifth straight game on Monday due to left knee soreness, though coach Jacque Vaughn said Simmons will likely play on Tuesday against Phoenix, Nick Friedell of ESPN tweets.
  • The Celtics may lead the Eastern Conference but they could use some help, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe writes. Boston could use another shooter and big man. Washburn suggests Terrence Ross, P.J. Washington and Nerlens Noel as potential targets.

Nets Looking To Expand Irving Trade To Include Third Team

The Nets are looking for a third team to fold into the Kyrie Irving trade, which is why it hasn’t been made official yet, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Brooklyn is set to receive guard Spencer Dinwiddie, forward Dorian Finney-Smith, an unprotected 2029 first-round pick, a 2027 second-round pick, and a 2029 second-round pick in the swap. Those draft picks will all be the Mavericks’ own.

Marc Stein was first to report (via Twitter) that the Nets were considering trading Dinwiddie to a third team. It’s possible that Finney-Smith could be on the move as well, as he acknowledged in an interview with Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

According to Stein (Twitter links), the Nets are exploring a deal that would send Dinwiddie and unspecified draft picks to Toronto for Raptors guard Fred VanVleet. The Nets also have interest in forward Pascal Siakam, but the Raptors are reluctant to move the All-NBA forward.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Brian Windhorst stated on The Hoop Collective podcast that the Nets were also intrigued by Raptors forward OG Anunoby, though they were uncertain if they would be able to land him (hat tip to RealGM).

I still don’t know what the Raptors are going to do,” said Windhorst.

The Nets are definitely calling the Raptors over the last 24 hours,” replied Zach Lowe.

If the Nets could flip some of this stuff that they got and pry OG Anunoby out of there, you may have something there with the Nets, but I don’t know if they’re going to be able to,” added Windhorst.

Wojanrowski reports (via Twitter) that several teams are speaking to the Raptors today, including the Nets.

The deal will be finalized on Monday regardless of if a third team is included, notes ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). Irving plans to join the team in Los Angeles for practice on Tuesday and intends to suit up on Wednesday versus the Clippers, so the Mavs need the deal completed by Monday.

Clippers May Seek Buyout With John Wall If He’s Not Traded

The Clippers are attempting to trade point guard John Wall and may consider a buyout if they can’t find a deal, multiple sources tell Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times.

Wall, 32, signed with L.A. in July after reaching a buyout with Houston. His two-year contract includes a $6.479MM salary for this season and a $6.8MM team option for 2023/24.

After sitting out all of last season, Wall was playing fairly regularly before suffering an abdominal injury on January 13. He has missed the past 11 games, and Greif hears there are concerns about his fit with the Clippers for the remainder of the season.

Wall has averaged 11.4 points, 5.2 assists and 2.7 rebounds in 34 games, but he’s shooting just 40% from the field and 27% on pull-up jumpers. Wall also has a team-low minus-9.2 net rating, which measures the point differential between when he’s on the court and not.

Wall still doesn’t have a target date to return from his injury, although Greif notes that he was able to participate in a full-court scrimmage with coaches and some of his teammates this week. Wall wouldn’t comment directly on trade rumors, telling Greif that he’s concentrating on things he can control.

“This period for the whole league is interesting, trying to see if any trades happen, getting to see if teams stay healthy and stuff like that, so you kind of just all playing it by ear,” Wall said. “Kind of like, if you be here just try to figure out what your role is, and if you’re not here, then you got to try to find a new situation, like what the new situation might be and stuff like that. I’m just trying to focus on trying to get back and play. Just let everything else happen the way it’s going to happen.”

The Wall rumors come as the Clippers continue to search for point guard help before Thursday’s trade deadline. Greif identifies Toronto’s Fred VanVleet as the team’s number one target, and notes that Miami’s Kyle Lowry, Utah’s Mike Conley and Charlotte’s Terry Rozier have also been linked to L.A. in trade rumors. Greif doesn’t consider the Clippers to be a potential landing spot for Kyrie Irving, who submitted a trade request to the Nets on Friday.

Lakers, Jazz Have Had Exploratory Talks About Westbrook

The Lakers and Jazz have had some exploratory discussions about a trade involving veteran point guard Russell Westbrook, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report.

Although Westbrook has adjusted nicely to a sixth man role this season and hasn’t been cited as trade rumors nearly as often as he was during the offseason, he has “remained available” for trade, according to Haynes.

The recent acquisition of Rui Hachimura has given the Lakers a “renewed sense of confidence,” but there’s a belief within the organization that the club needs to make at least one more roster move before the February 9 trade deadline to give itself a real shot at contention, Haynes says.

It’s possible such a move could involve Westbrook, though Patrick Beverley remains a trade candidate as well. According to Haynes, the Lakers are in communication with many teams around the NBA as they consider the most favorable trade scenarios available to them.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the Lakers and Jazz having a conversation about Westbrook. The two teams reportedly engaged in discussions last offseason, with Los Angeles exploring a deal that would’ve sent Westbrook and draft assets to Utah in exchange for Bojan Bogdanovic and others.

Bogdanovic was traded to Detroit instead, but the Jazz still have several veterans on eight-figure salaries who could appeal to L.A., including Mike Conley, Malik Beasley, and Jordan Clarkson. The Lakers also remain interested in Bogdanovic as they scour the market in search of outside shooting help, Haynes confirms, though there’s skepticism about whether the Pistons will actually move the veteran forward before the deadline.

Westbrook’s $47MM+ cap hit makes him a tricky player to move, but if the Lakers remain open to dealing him, there are other possibilities they could explore.

According to John Hollinger of The Athletic, one popular trade idea that has made the rounds as of late is Westbrook and the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to the Raptors for a package headlined by Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. However, Hollinger stresses that the Raptors/Westbrook proposal has been “fairly heavily trafficked in theory despite little evidence that it’s been discussed in reality.”

Raptors Notes: VanVleet, Trent, Anunoby, Banton

Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet is a candidate to be traded within the next week, but the team doesn’t feel “heavy pressure” to make a move or risk losing VanVleet in free agency, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.

As Grange notes, there’s a belief that VanVleet would like to remain in Toronto, not just due to fit and familiarity, but because he’s in a good position to get a raise from the Raptors if and when he declines his player option this summer.

“The worst thing that could happen to Fred is to be traded,” a source told Grange. “Unless you’re a superstar who is getting the max no matter what, the best way to get paid is by staying with your own team.”

While there’s some truth to that observation, it’s worth noting that VanVleet’s Bird rights would go with him to a new team if he’s traded on or before February 9, so that club wouldn’t face any cap-related limits if it wanted to give him a significant raise on this season’s $21.25MM salary.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • League sources believe Gary Trent Jr.‘s value on the trade market is equivalent to a protected first-round pick or a pair of “good” second-round picks, along with matching salary, according to Grange. Like VanVleet, Trent can become an unrestricted free agent in July by turning down a player option, but Toronto believes it can re-sign him and doesn’t feel significant pressure to trade him now, Grange adds.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic views Raptors forward OG Anunoby as a trade chip capable of having a real impact on the title race if he ends up landing with a team like Memphis, arguing that Anunoby’s defensive versatility and ability to match up with big wings makes him worth multiple first-round picks even if his offense doesn’t improve beyond its current level.
  • Anunoby holds the No. 1 spot on The Athletic’s latest trade deadline big board, which ranks players based on several factors, including his potential impact and his “asset value.” Two other Raptors are in the top 10, with VanVleet coming in at No. 3 and Trent at No. 9.
  • Second-year guard Dalano Banton, who played in 15 of the Raptors’ first 16 games this season, saw some action on Wednesday for the first time since December 18, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. A restricted free agent at season’s end, Banton was with the Raptors 905 in the G League for a while and also missed time due to a hip injury.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic considers four possible paths Toronto could take at the trade deadline, ranging from standing pat to blowing up the roster.

L.A. Notes: LeBron, T. Bryant, Lakers, Conley, Clippers

After missing Monday’s game in Brooklyn due to left foot/ankle soreness, Lakers star LeBron James has been listed as questionable to play on Tuesday in New York, tweets Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

While that status indicates that his availability for tonight remains up in the air, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link) that LeBron will play against the Knicks. He’s just 117 points away from catching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • While his production fell off last week with Anthony Davis back, Lakers center Thomas Bryant showed on Monday that he remains a crucial – and highly effective – insurance policy, scoring 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting with Davis unavailable, Turner writes for The Los Angeles Times. “I’m willing to do whatever the team needs me to do in order to win,” Bryant said. “Whether that’s coming off the bench, I’m with it. Or if that’s starting, I’m ready as well.”
  • Now that the Lakers have traded away their 2029 second-round pick, Eric Pincus of Sports Business Classroom considers how the team could add protections to their 2029 first-round pick if it’s traded this season. Protections aren’t allowed to be added to picks beyond seven years, so if the Lakers trade their 2029 first-rounder with protections at February’s deadline, they won’t be able to include language that pushes it to 2030.
  • ESPN’s Tim MacMahon is the latest reporter to throw cold water on the idea of the Clippers acquiring point guard Mike Conley from the Jazz. After Jake Fischer reported last week that the idea of the Clips landing Conley was probably “unrealistic,” MacMahon said on an episode of The Lowe Post podcast that it’s unlikely to happen because L.A. is reluctant to give up a first-round pick. “If they are (going to give up a first-rounder) for a point guard, I think it’s more likely (Fred) VanVleet than it is for Conley,” MacMahon said (hat tip to Scott Polacek of Bleacher Report).
  • It took some time for the Clippers‘ star combo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to hit their stride this season, but the pairing is finally paying dividends, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. The team had won five straight games before Leonard and George sat out the second half of a back-to-back set on Sunday. L.A. won’t have another back-to-back until March.

Raptors Rumors: Trent, VanVleet, Siakam, Anunoby, Achiuwa

Most executives who have spoken to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype believe that Raptors wing Gary Trent Jr. will be able to at least match – and likely exceed – the value of his $18.8MM player option on a new contract, which is why he’s considered a strong bet to opt out and become a free agent this summer.

Scotto said during a podcast with Blake Murphy of Sportsnet that there are people around the league who think Trent will surpass $20MM annually on his next contract. Although Murphy mentioned the possibility of a deal in the neighborhood of $25MM per year for Trent, Scotto is skeptical that he’ll get that much — if he does, it would be based on his age and potential for further growth (he just turned 24 years old).

As for Fred VanVleet, Scotto has heard that the Raptors’ point guard could be seeking a contract in the range of $30-35MM per year when he’s eligible for free agency this summer. That would put him in the same ballpark as a fellow guard like Jrue Holiday, for instance, Scotto observes.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Executives around the NBA don’t expect Pascal Siakam to be on the move by February 9 unless the Raptors are blown away with a “crazy” offer, Scotto says.
  • According to Scotto, a number of rival executives have speculated about the possibility of the Grizzlies making a run at Raptors forward OG Anunoby. Memphis has exhibited plenty of patience in building its roster in recent years and hasn’t seemed eager to sacrifice future draft capital to take a big swing — still, Anunoby would be an ideal fit on the roster, and the team has an extra first-round pick (Golden State’s top-four protected 2024 selection).
  • Anunoby tells Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca that there’s no truth to the rumblings that he wants out of Toronto. Within the same story, Grange examines the recent emergence of Precious Achiuwa and considers whether the ascendant big man could help ease the loss if the Raptors trade Anunoby.

Trade Rumors: Guards, Centers, Hornets, Mavs, Hyland, More

Previous reports have indicated that the Suns and Clippers are interested in point guards, and they have been the two most active teams looking for help at the position, sources tell Matt Moore of Action Network.

At least one report indicated that the Heat aren’t actively shopping Kyle Lowry, but that hasn’t stopped rival teams from calling to check in on him, Moore writes.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote last week that the Clippers are interested in Lowry and Fred VanVleet, and their names are not a coincidence. According to Moore, Kawhi Leonard “has made it clear” that he would welcome backcourt help, and the three players were teammates when the Raptors won the championship in 2019.

Moore believes VanVleet is more likely to be on the move than Lowry due to his age and contract situation. VanVleet, who turns 29 next month, is expected to decline his player option and hit free agency in 2023. Lowry, on the other hand, turns 37 in March and is owed $29.7MM in 2023/24.

As for the Suns, they’ve been looking more at reserves than starters. His name hasn’t come up in trade talks, according to Moore, but rival executives are keeping a close eye on Chris Paul‘s situation in Phoenix in case new owner Mat Ishbia decides to go in a different direction — Paul turns 38 in May.

Moore says Bulls guard Alex Caruso might be the most difficult guard on the market to acquire, as his contract, age, and versatility hold a lot of appeal. Nearly a dozen teams are thought to have “serious interest” in Caruso, but some have already pulled out of talks with Chicago due to a high asking price.

Here are several more trade rumors from Moore:

  • If the Spurs trade Jakob Poeltl, Moore believes it will come right before the deadline. Rival executives are skeptical San Antonio will be able to get two first-rounders for the veteran center.
  • While Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is reportedly available, Moore writes that Portland will only move him for an upgrade at the position.
  • Multiple teams have inquired on Timberwolves center Naz Reid, but evidently Minnesota didn’t like the offers. Moore hears the Wolves are going to hang onto the 23-year-old and will try to sign him to a contract extension.
  • The Hornets have set a pretty high bar in talks regarding Terry Rozier and Mason Plumlee. They’re looking for a first-rounder in exchange for either player, according to Moore.
  • The Mavericks are open to discussing their wing players in an effort to upgrade the roster, but they might also look to shed long-term money. Keep an eye on the Jazz, says Moore, as they could offer “short-term upgrades on expiring contracts” to fulfill both of those desires.
  • Moore classifies the Pelicans as a team “unlikely to make moves,” though they are interested in wing help. Sources tell Moore the Hawks are unlikely to trade John Collins, as the new front office regime appears to value him more than the previous one did.
  • The Nuggets are looking for a “playoff-ready wing who can defend” for guard Bones Hyland, but have only received “lowball offers” thus far. Moore believes they’re unlikely to make a deal. However, sources tell Mike Singer of The Denver Post that the Nuggets “believe they have traction on potentially acquiring a first-round pick” for the 22-year-old. Singer also reports that the Nuggets are looking for players on “cost-controlled” contracts similar to Hyland’s, who is in the second year of his rookie scale deal.

Raptors Notes: VanVleeet, Trade Rumors, Anunoby, Achiuwa

Fred VanVleet is expected to decline his $22,824,074 option in order to become a free agent this summer. However, the Raptors guard downplayed the timing of his decision to cut ties with his long-time agent, Brian Jungreis, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet. VanVleet also said he hasn’t chosen an agent, despite reports that he’ll sign with Klutch Sports.

“It was a long time in the making,” the Raptors guard said. “Maybe the paperwork getting filed around the time when my name is in a lot of trade rumors, it’s going to make some noise, but there’s really nothing to it. It’s just time for me to switch agents for the second half of my career. It didn’t work out with the previous thing going on. I’m looking forward to a long, prosperous career, so I wouldn’t read too much into it.”

We have more from the Raptors:

  • VanVleet, of course, isn’t the only player who has been mentioned in trade rumors. Virtually the entire starting lineup has been thrown into the rumor mill and coach Nick Nurse admits the chatter hangs over them, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes. “There are guys that are thinking about where they’re living, where they’re moving, what their family situation is, kids in school,” Nurse said. “There’s the real-life part of it that, for sure, guys are thinking about. But I also believe once you get here and once the ball goes up, they probably focus in and do the best they can on the night.”
  • OG Anunoby departed the Raptors’ victory over Portland early on Saturday due to a left wrist sprain. Though X-rays were negative, he has been ruled out for Monday’s game against Phoenix, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet tweets.
  • With Anunoby sidelined, Precious Achiuwa stepped up with 27 points and 13 rebounds on Saturday. Nurse was impressed with Achiuwa’s performance, Erik Garcia Gundersen of The Associated Press writes. “He was in the right place at the right time a lot tonight and that’s a good sign that he’s making himself available,” Nurse said. “He made really good reads and (teammates) found him and he made a couple of plays on his own. I was happy that he was available because teams will step up to Pascal (Siakam) when he’s driving.” Achiuwa is extension-eligible this offseason.

Raptors Notes: Anunoby, Wieskamp, VanVleet, Barnes

Raptors forward OG Anunoby exited Friday’s loss to Golden State early after sustaining a left wrist injury, according to Kayla Grey of TSN, who tweets that X-rays on Anunoby’s wrist were negative. While that’s good news, the 25-year-old is expected to undergo further testing and imaging on Saturday to determine the extent of the injury.

Teams around the NBA will be keeping a close eye on Anunoby’s diagnosis, since he’s considered a popular trade target. Prior to Friday’s game, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski stated during an appearance on NBA Today (video link) that there’s “great interest” in Anunoby across the league and confirmed that there’s a belief Toronto would be able to get up to three first-round picks in exchange for him.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Following the expiration of his second 10-day contract on Thursday night, Joe Wieskamp is no longer with the Raptors, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets. That’s no surprise, since Toronto would have had to sign Wieskamp for the rest of the season in order to retain him. The team likely values the roster flexibility of having its 15th roster spot open as the trade deadline approaches.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype names five teams that would be good fits for point guard Fred VanVleet if the Raptors are willing to move him, exploring what packages from the Suns, Mavericks, Heat, Clippers, and Lakers might look like.
  • For what it’s worth, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports said in Friday’s episode of his Please Don’t Aggregate This podcast that he hasn’t heard anything about VanVleet requesting a trade or “pounding the table” to get out of Toronto (hat tip to HoopsHype).
  • Reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes has been likened to Warriors star Draymond Green due to his versatility, play-making, and defensive ability. Green certainly doesn’t mind the comparison, telling Eric Koreen of The Athletic on Friday that he loves Barnes’ game and his upside. “He could be a lot better than me,” Green said. “I saw a tweet the other day that said, ‘Scottie Barnes’ floor is Draymond Green. And that’s a damn good floor.’ And I believe that. He’s such a special talent.”