Gary Trent Jr.

Raptors Notes: Young Talent, Offseason, Barnes, Achiuwa, Trent

The Raptors have been rightfully credited for finding young talent in the past, including a remarkable three-year stretch from 2015-17 where they hit on every draft pick, writes Michael Grange of They found several diamonds in the rough, including Fred VanVleet, who went undrafted, which is how they became one of the league’s best teams for multiple years.

However, aside from Scottie Barnes, Toronto hasn’t found an impact player over the past five drafts, according to Grange. He believes last year’s deadline deal for Thaddeus Young has proven to be a bad decision, as Young hasn’t been contributing and trading down from No. 20 overall to No. 33 cost the Raptors the opportunity to draft players like Jazz center Walker Kessler (No. 22) or Andrew Nembhard (No. 31), who shined for Indiana in Toronto on Wednesday.

Grange acknowledges that it’s easy to say the team should have drafted certain players with the benefit of hindsight, but it’s the Raptors’ job to find and develop talent — they simply haven’t had much success with it in recent years, and the proof is evident in their lack of depth.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Some rival executives think the Raptors’ front office plans to run things back in the offseason with minor tweaks around the edges, but Doug Smith of The Toronto Star argues that would be the worst decision they could make, suggesting that a major move is needed to break the team out of its season-long morass. Smith points to Wednesday’s dispiriting loss to the Pacers as an example of why the front office would be foolish to believe the team is good enough to contend as is, particularly given the importance of the game.
  • The 36-38 Raptors are determined to get Barnes and the team’s other young players more postseason experience, which is why they acquired Jakob Poeltl at the trade deadline. Josh Lewenberg of takes a look at where the Raptors are in the Eastern Conference standings, writing that the No. 8 seed is probably the most realistic target. That would give the team two chances to make the playoffs via the play-in tournament, Lewenberg notes.
  • Barnes (wrist), Precious Achiuwa (hamstring) and Gary Trent Jr. (wrist) were all sidelined again on Friday, tweets Lewenberg, but the Raptors easily rolled past the last-place Pistons. It was the second straight absence for all three players, who had previously been listed as questionable.

Injury Notes: Embiid, Wizards, Raptors, Simmons, Gallinari

Sixers All-NBA center Joel Embiid sat out the second half of Philadelphia’ 116-91 blowout victory over the Bulls Wednesday with mild right calf tightness, but he’s expected to suit up for the Sixers’ next game on Friday, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

While the injury is considered minor, Rich Hoffman of The Athletic suggests it could impact how Philadelphia handles its final 10 games of the 2022/23 season. The Sixers’ other top scorer, point guard James Harden, sat out the win with a sore left Achilles.

Hoffman notes that Philadelphia is prioritizing postseason health over regular season wins down the home stretch, a strategy that could cost the team’s the East’s second seed and home court advantage in the second round of the playoffs should it match up with the Celtics.

“We’ve gone into the playoffs two years in a row with injuries,” head coach Doc Rivers said in a postgame presser. “We all know that you don’t win in the playoffs when your key guys aren’t healthy, period. So, we’re going to do whatever we can to be healthy.”

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

  • Wizards power forward Kyle Kuzma and shooting guard Bradley Beal will both miss Washington’s game Friday against the lowly Spurs, reports Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Kuzma is dealing with a sprained right ankle, while the oft-injured Beal is currently grappling with left knee soreness.
  • Deep-bench Nets big man Ben Simmons is currently only engaging in individual workouts and not yet working out with the team as he continues to rehabilitate his sore left knee, per Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter link). Head coach Jacque Vaughn was noncommittal when he was asked if the team would be able to ramp up Simmons before the end of the regular season.
  • Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, big man Precious Achiuwa, and shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. did not practice on Thursday and are questionable Friday in a winnable game against the rebuilding Pistons, according to Michael Grange of (via Twitter). Grange observes (Twitter link) that Barnes is exercising caution with his ailing left wrist. Achiuwa is dealing with a hamstring injury, while Trent has an elbow ailment.
  • When Danilo Gallinari tore his ACL six months ago, the injury was considered very likely to end his season. Though it remains a long shot, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston writes that the Celtics forward continues to keep the door ajar for a potential return for the postseason. “Playoffs, it’s still in my head,” Gallinari said. “A lot of steps that need to be done before you play an actual game. And even maybe after all those steps, you are not ready for a playoff game because when you don’t play the whole season and then be ready to play a playoff game is not easy for anybody, not just body-wise but mentally-wise. But like I said, it might happen. So we’ll see.”

Atlantic Notes: Ainge, Mazzulla, Hardy, Brown, Trent Jr.

Danny Ainge may be running the Jazz but his heart is still in Boston. Utah’s top executive admits he’s still a big Celtics fan, thanks to the longtime ties he has to the organization. “I root hard for the Celtics,” Ainge told Jay King of The Athletic.

He also likes what he sees from Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, who went from assistant to interim coach to head coach this season.

“I just always liked Joe’s work ethic, his focus, his intelligence,” Ainge said of the Celtics’ new coach. “I feel like Joe is one of those guys — one way that I’ve always measured greatness is how much a person can learn from mistakes they make. Joe’s going to learn from his mistakes, just like (Utah coach) Will Hardy learns from his mistakes quickly. … The coaches that learn and move on, they become the legendary coaches. And I think both Joe and Will have a chance to be those.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Speaking of Hardy and Mazzulla, they remain in frequent contact with each other, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. The Jazz recorded a one-point win over Boston on Saturday. “I’d like to think we made each other better on and off the court,” Mazzulla said. “Just his mind, the way he thinks, the way he prepares. Really got to watch him be an associate head coach and how he served (Ime Udoka) and how he served our staff. Just a lot of great things I learned from him.”
  • Center Moses Brown attended high school at New York’s Archbishop Malloy. He’s thrilled that the Nets signed him to a 10-day contract, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post writes. “I’ve been on a lot of teams all over the country, and it’s just cool to be home,” he said. “Every time we would drive throughout Brooklyn, I would watch the Barclays Center’s progress every year (while it was being constructed). That was the new team. I remember, growing up, just liking the colors, the uniforms, everything.”
  • The Raptors’ 15-point win over Minnesota included a 19-point outing off the bench from Gary Trent Jr., who is expected to opt out of his $18.56MM contract for next season in order to become a free agent. Trent was a starter for much of the season, but head coach Nick Nurse said that having the veteran wing on the second unit has been a huge boost to the bench. “We need his offensive production,” Nurse told Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “It’s kind of his role on the team, is to keep the offense ticking over when some of the main guys are off the floor.”

Raptors Notes: Starting Five, Poeltl, Koloko, Anunoby

The trade-deadline addition of Jakob Poeltl has finally given the Raptors a starting five that can dominate opposing lineups, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

For most of the last two seasons, Toronto’s go-to five-man group of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, and Gary Trent Jr. only narrowly outscored opponents. However, since replacing Trent in that group with Poeltl, the Raptors’ starting five has become a major strength.

The lineup with Trent has played a team-high 378 minutes this season and posted a plus-0.8 net rating. The five-man group featuring Poeltl has already logged 163 minutes and has an impressive plus-17.3 net rating during that time. While Poeltl’s rim-protecting ability has helped stabilize Toronto’s defense, the club’s offense has also been highly effective when he’s on the floor, scoring 123.6 points per 100 possessions.

“(Poeltl has) given us a little bit better screening game, a roll threat,” head coach Nick Nurse said, per Koreen. “When you got the roll threat going, it usually gives you a little bit of a weakside catch-and-shoot opportunity.”

In order to keep their successful new starting five together next season, the Raptors will likely need to negotiate new deals for both Poeltl and VanVleet, since both players can reach unrestricted free agency this summer. Trent will also likely be a free agent.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • After not being a part of the Raptors’ rotation for several weeks, Christian Koloko logged 12 minutes in Thursday’s victory over Oklahoma City, Koreen notes. Nurse said this week that he’d like to keep either Poeltl or Koloko on the floor most of the time to anchor the defense, so the rookie could see more regular minutes in the coming weeks.
  • Anunoby is something of a defensive “unicorn,” writes Blake Murphy of, observing that the Raptors forward has guarded everyone from Bradley Beal to DeMar DeRozan to Nikola Jokic in recent weeks. “He’s positionless. Positionless defense,” Nurse said. “He’s probably optimal at his position, a wing player. Probably. But he does so good on two-guards and bigs when he needs to, as well. He hasn’t really guarded his position in the last several games.”
  • Within the same story, Murphy takes a deep dive on how possible changes to the NBA’s rules governing veteran extensions could affect the Raptors’ ability to lock up Anunoby before he becomes eligible for free agency in 2024. As Murphy details, the current rules would limit Toronto’s best extension offer to about $100MM over four years, but if the NBA allows extensions to begin at 150% of the player’s previous salary instead of 120%, the Raptors could bump their offer as high as approximately $125MM over four years.
  • As Doug Smith of The Toronto Star points out, the Raptors will finish their season next month with two games in Boston and one vs. Milwaukee, so they could benefit from load management if the Celtics and Bucks are locked into playoff seeds and decide not to play their starters big minutes in those games.

Atlantic Notes: Maxey, Sixers, Horford, Trent, Barnes

Tyrese Maxey returned to the Sixers‘ starting lineup on Wednesday for the first time in over a month, replacing big man Joel Embiid. Interestingly, Maxey remained in the starting five on Thursday when Embiid was healthy, supplanting fellow guard De’Anthony Melton.

As Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice writes, when Melton first replaced Maxey in the starting five, the five-man group that featured Melton, Embiid, James Harden, Tobias Harris, and P.J. Tucker had a clear statistical advantage over the one that had Maxey in Melton’s spot, particularly on defense. However, in recent months, the five-man unit with Maxey alongside those four other starters has been the more effective lineup.

In Neubeck’s view, the Sixers should use the final few weeks of the season to get a long look at both lineups to assess their options entering the playoffs. However, he believes there’s a strong case to be made that it’s time to reincorporate Maxey into the starting five, based on how productive that group has been. Plus, as Neubeck outlines, starting Maxey means he’ll play alongside defensive anchor Embiid more often — that should benefit the young guard, who is frequently targeted on the defensive end.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Sixers look like the clear winners in last year’s James Harden/Ben Simmons trade for the time being, but that could change if Harden leaves in free agency without winning a title in Philadelphia, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes, noting that the Nets still control two of the 76ers’ future first-round picks (in 2023 and 2027) as part of that blockbuster deal.
  • It looked like Al Horford‘s NBA career might be winding down when he was traded in a salary-dump deal in 2020 following a failed stint in Philadelphia, but the 36-year-old has resurrected his career during his second stint with the Celtics. Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports has the story.
  • With recent acquisition Jakob Poeltl now part of the Raptors‘ starting lineup, Gary Trent Jr. is the team’s new sixth man. As Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes, that role looks like Trent’s best fit in Toronto going forward, so it will be interesting to see how it might affect the swingman’s free agency decision if the Raptors make it clear they want him to come off the bench beyond this season.
  • Scottie Barnes‘ sophomore season got off to a shaky start, but since January 1, the Raptors forward has looked more like the player that won the Rookie of the Year award last spring, as Spencer Davies of details.

Raptors Notes: Poeltl, Offseason, Trade Deadline, Ujiri

Newly reacquired Raptors center Jakob Poeltl, an unrestricted free agent this summer, can envision himself signing a new contract with the team, per Josh Lewenberg of (Twitter link).

“It’s definitely something I can see for the long-term as well,” Poeltl said of the Raptors.

Poeltl was initially selected by Toronto with the ninth pick in the 2017 draft, but was dealt to the Spurs in 2018 as part of its package to acquire All-NBA small forward Kawhi Leonard.

He had since emerged as a terrific rim-protecting center for San Antonio and is expected to earn a significant salary upgrade this summer. In 47 games this season with the Spurs and Raptors, Poeltl is averaging 12.0 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.1 BPG and 0.8 SPG.

Having the 7’1″ big man on the roster broadens Toronto’s lineup options, contends Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Poeltl suited up for 17 minutes in his first game back with the Raptors, a 122-116 Friday loss to the Jazz. Smith writes that head coach Nick Nurse anticipates eventually shifting Poeltl into a starting role for the team.

“Hopefully he’s going to rim-protect, either with some shot-blocking or some vertical-type moves,” Nurse said. “Hopefully he’ll defensive rebound for us, too. We work pretty hard at defensive rebounding. There are guys that need to get involved in that. Hopefully he can take some of that load off our guys… He’s got a good IQ. That’s important, when a guy back there has some IQ and can direct traffic a bit.” 

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • Raptors guards Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. are both expected to turn down their respective player options for 2023/24, and instead enter 2023 free agency, writes Blake Murphy of Murphy looks ahead to how Toronto’s approach to the trade deadline could impact its approach to the 2023 offseason. Instead of becoming sellers at the deadline, as widely expected for the 26-31 Raptors, the team added Poeltl. Murphy thinks the Raptors can still look to offload contracts this summer, though he is dubious the team will get as much for its players during the offseason as it may have been able to extract at the deadline.
  • Lewenberg opines in a separate piece that the Raptors were never likely to be sellers at the trade deadline, noting that Toronto was possibly open to accepting a trade for 25-year-old swingman OG Anunoby, but had been reticent to move off the contract of All-Star big man Pascal Siakam.
  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri may have erred in wanting to let his current core of Siakam, Anunoby, VanVleet and 2022 Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes play out the rest of the season, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Koreen posits that the addition of Poeltl, while offering a defensive improvement around the rack, will not upgrade the club enough to return it to true contention this season.

Raptors’ Anunoby, Pistons’ Bogdanovic Among Trade Candidates Staying Put

While there was quite a bit of activity at the trade deadline, numerous players who were expected to be moved wound up staying put.

At or near the top of that list is the Raptors’ OG Anunoby. He generated plenty of interest around the league, with the Grizzlies, Pelicans, Knicks and Trail Blazers reportedly all in the bidding. Even the Warriors made a substantial run at Anunoby, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (video link).

Toronto, rather than going into sell mode, brought back center Jakob Poeltl in a deal with the Spurs and kept Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr. and Pascal Siakam, all of whom were mentioned in trade rumors. They’ll now have some hard decisions to make this summer with VanVleet, Trent, and Poeltl expected to hit the free agent market, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN notes (Twitter link).

Here are some of the notable teams who retained key players:

  • Perhaps no team surprised the league more by not making a move than the Bulls, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic tweets. It was anticipated the Bulls might blow up an underperforming roster and ship out some combination of Nikola Vucevic, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, and Coby White. Vucevic will be a free agent this summer and White will also enter the market, though Chicago could make him a restricted free agent by extending a qualifying offer.
  • The Pistons made a splash in a three-team swap, shipping out Saddiq Bey and Kevin Knox and bringing in former No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman from the Warriors. However, Detroit decided to hold onto Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. Bogdanovic, in particular, drew a lot of interest around the league but the team’s front office repeatedly made it clear in recent weeks it wanted to keep Bogdanovic and Burks to blend in with an otherwise young team next season.
  • Another surprise was that Heat president Pat Riley failed to make a big move. Miami was unable to find a taker for some of its unpalatable contracts (Duncan Robinson, Kyle Lowry). However, the Heat will actively explore the buyout market, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). The Heat have two available roster spots (and need to fill at least one) and have their $4.1MM bi-annual exception and a portion of their mid-level exception still available to entice free agents.
  • The Cavaliers were the rare contender that decided to stand pat, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. Cleveland had long been considered a prime candidate to acquire another wing. Thus, the Cavs will ride with Caris LeVert, Isaac Okoro and Cedi Osman. LeVert will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • The Mavericks didn’t move big man Christian Wood, Marc Stein notes (Twitter link), even though it doesn’t appear the two parties are close to an extension agreement. Wood had said he didn’t want to be traded.
  • The Sixers failed to deal disgruntled wing Furkan Korkmaz, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Korkmaz, who has fallen out of Doc Rivers’ rotation, had requested a trade.

Raptors Rumors: Trent, Poeltl, Anunoby, Siakam

Although the Raptors are widely expected to be active at this week’s trade deadline, rival teams continue to have a tough time getting a read on Toronto’s intentions, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack report.

The Raptors have long been considered a likely seller, with players like Gary Trent Jr., Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam generating trade interest. But Stein hears that there were “fresh rumbles” this week about Toronto exploring Trent and draft compensation in a deal for Spurs center Jakob Poeltl, which is hardly the sort of move a seller would make.

For what it’s worth, the Raptors don’t seem to mind the fact that they’re creating confusion among rivals, Stein says.

In his own look at the Raptors’ trade deadline decisions, Josh Lewenberg of notes that team president Masai Ujiri has never been the type of executive to go all-in (by trading several future draft picks) or to completely hit the reset button by launching a full-fledged rebuild. Those who want him to embrace one extreme or the other this week may be disappointed, says Lewenberg.

Here’s more on the Raptors as Thursday’s trade deadline nears:

  • The Raptors have expressed confidence to some teams that they can land three first-round picks for Anunoby, according to Stein. However, it remains unclear which club(s) would be prepared to make that sort of offer. Stein says the Grizzlies, Pelicans, and Knicks have all conveyed a willingness to offer two first-rounders for Anunoby. A previous report stated that the Knicks were comfortable putting three first-round selections on the table, but a source who spoke to Sam Amick of The Athletic disputed that claim. The Suns and Pacers continue to be mentioned frequently as possible Anunoby suitors as well, Stein adds.
  • One factor working against a possible Anunoby trade is Ujiri’s reluctance to trade top homegrown talent, says Stein. Lewenberg also touches on that idea in his story, pointing out that it applies to VanVleet and Siakam too. The reason why the asking price for those players has been reported as almost unreasonably high, Lewenberg observes, is because Ujiri values them more than most teams would.
  • Amick is the latest reporter to suggest that Anunoby may not be thrilled with his role in Toronto. That doesn’t necessarily mean that he wants to be traded — he just wants to play a larger role, Amick says, whether it’s with the Raptors or another team.
  • Both Stein and Amick still believe that Siakam is unlikely to be dealt this week. A source with knowledge of the situation tells Amick that Siakam’s preference is to remain in Toronto.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic argues that Ujiri and the Raptors can’t afford to be sentimental at Thursday’s deadline, writing that there may never be a better time to maximize the return on some of the team’s most valuable trade chips.
  • In case you missed it, the Raptors are reportedly among the teams with interest in Nuggets guard Bones Hyland, as we relayed earlier today.

Fischer’s Latest: Anunoby, VanVleet, Clippers, Hornets, McGee, Bogdanovic

The Raptors remain the team to watch ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Pascal Siakam doesn’t appear likely to be moved, although numerous teams have expressed interest, but sources point to OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. as more realistic trade candidates.

Fischer cites the Pelicans, Grizzlies, Knicks, Pacers, Trail Blazers, Lakers, Suns and Nets as teams that have recently been linked to Anunoby, although he states that there is “varying interest” around the league. Fischer’s sources confirm that Toronto is placing a premium price on the 24-year-old wing, which other front offices are calling “quite steep.”

Fischer also raises the possibility that offers for Anunoby will be lessened because of the chance that Kevin Durant might be available this summer in the wake of the Kyrie Irving trade. Although Durant hasn’t indicated to the Nets that he plans to issue another trade request, league insiders tell Fischer that several teams are planning to stockpile their resources in case it happens.

Fischer passes along a few more rumors heading into the deadline:

  • Multiple executives from other teams see VanVleet as the most likely Raptor to be moved this week. Fischer notes that the Clippers and Suns have been linked to VanVleet in trade rumors, and hears that the Lakers, Magic and Timberwolves have expressed interest as well.
  • The Clippers started looking for point guard help before John Wall was sidelined with an abdominal strain, sources tell Fischer. Numerous teams have expressed interest in Terance Mann, and the Clippers have several affordable contracts to help get a deal done. Fischer states that L.A. and Phoenix have both mentioned as possible landing spots for Kyle Lowry, Terry Rozier and D’Angelo Russell as well as VanVleet, with the Suns seeking an experienced playmaker who can eventually take over for Chris Paul.
  • Rozier has also been mentioned as a possibility for the Lakers and Timberwolves, Fischer adds, and the Heat are among the teams interested in Charlottte’s P.J. Washington, who wasn’t able to reach an extension agreement before the October deadline. Fischer notes that the Hornets typically aren’t a major player at the deadline, but he identifies Mason Plumlee as a potential trade piece, with the Kings expressing interest and having a desire to move backup center Richaun Holmes.
  • Another veteran center on the market is the MavericksJaVale McGee, according to Fischer. Dallas signed McGee to a three-year, $17MM deal last summer in anticipation of making him a starter, but he’s no longer part of the rotation.
  • Teams are becoming convinced that the Pistons plan to keep Bojan Bogdanovic. Fischer states that the Bucks recently inquired about the veteran sharpshooter after failing to close a deal with the Suns for Jae Crowder, but Detroit wants at least one unprotected first-round pick in return and Milwaukee can’t offer a first-rounder until 2029.

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.”