Gary Trent Jr.

Raptors Notes: Achiuwa, Young, Hernangomez, Barnes, Trent

Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa has been sidelined since November 9 after sustaining partial ligament tears in his right ankle and will remain on the shelf for the foreseeable future. Head coach Nick Nurse told reporters on Monday that it will be another two or three weeks before the team even has a clearer sense of a timeline for Achiuwa’s return, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

One silver lining of Achiuwa’s injury is that it has given two other Raptors bigs an opportunity to prove their mettle as regular contributors.

Veteran forward/center Thaddeus Young has averaged 10.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.6 SPG in eight games (26.7 MPG) since Achiuwa went down, while forward Juancho Hernangomez has averaged 6.6 PPG and 6.5 RPG in the same eight games (24.2 MPG). Neither player was a rotation mainstay during the early part of the season.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Young and Hernangomez were in the Raptors’ starting five on Monday vs. Cleveland, even with forward Pascal Siakam back in the lineup for the first time in 10 games. As Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes, Gary Trent Jr. came off the bench for the first time this season and just the fourth time as a Raptor, while Scottie Barnes was a reserve for the first time in his NBA career.
  • Nurse didn’t say whether the new-look lineup would stick beyond Monday’s game, but explained to reporters that he wanted to maintain some continuity and not have so many players who were coming off absences (Siakam, Barnes) or struggling (Trent) in his starting five.
  • While both Barnes and Trent said on Monday that they were fine with the change, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca suggests that Barnes “didn’t seem thrilled about his demotion” to the bench. When he received some push-back on his interpretation, Lewenberg posted the video clip of Barnes addressing the move, tweeting that the reigning Rookie of the Year “didn’t sound like somebody who was psyched about his (temporary) move to the bench.” Lewenberg expects Barnes to be back in the starting five in short order if he shows he’s healthy and can be more consistent.

Raptors Notes: Injuries, Trent, Young, Anunoby

The Raptors have been hit hard by the injury bug this month and played Wednesday’s game – a loss to Brooklyn – without Pascal Siakam (groin), Fred VanVleet (non-COVID illness), Scottie Barnes (ankle), Precious Achiuwa (ankle), Dalano Banton (ankle/illness), and Otto Porter Jr. (toe).

Although head coach Nick Nurse is known for getting creative with lineups and schemes, he said on Wednesday that he’s not exactly relishing the opportunity to have to cobble together five-man units without so many of his key players available, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.

“Not really, to be honest with you. Once in a while, you might enjoy the challenge, but not for three weeks in a row here. It’s getting… it’s not that enjoyable,” Nurse said. “… It’s not the end of the world, and it’s not like we haven’t played very well, because I think we have. If you look at some of our metrics… I think we’re still top 10 in offense and defense in the league and all that stuff, with all these injuries we’ve had for multiple weeks.”

The Raptors do have the 10th-best offensive rating in the NBA (112.7), but have slipped a few spots on defense in the last week and now rank 14th in defensive rating (110.9).

Here’s more out of Toronto:

  • Gary Trent Jr.‘s offense has been up and down this season, as he’s shooting just 40.7% from the floor and 31.1% on three-pointers, his worst marks since his rookie year. However, Nurse is more concerned about Trent’s regression as a defender this season, and issued a challenge this week to the fifth-year swingman. “We’re gonna get him his shots and get him his points, but we want him to be a disruptor,” Nurse said, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. “He kinda fits us if he does that, and if he doesn’t, he doesn’t fit us.”
  • According to Lewenberg, the Raptors told inquiring teams over the summer that they view Trent as an important part of their core, so it’s unlikely that stance has changed this early in the season. Still, he’ll be a player worth watching as the season progresses. He holds an $18.8MM player option for 2023/24, so he can become an unrestricted free agent next summer if he declines that option.
  • Veteran forward Thaddeus Young wasn’t part of Toronto’s regular rotation during the first couple weeks of the season, but he has been playing more lately and has provided some stability with so many players sidelined, Lewenberg writes in a separate TSN.ca story. “He’s been good. He’s doing a good job leadership-wise, too,” Nurse said of Young. “He’s good in the huddles and he’s trying to keep those guys going. So, he’s been a true pro.”
  • The Raptors have several talented defenders on their roster, but OG Anunoby has turned into the club’s top weapon on that side of the ball, says Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Anunoby is under contract through the 2023/24 season, with a player option for ’24/25, and will become extension-eligible next October.

Injury Updates: Magic, Bulls, Celtics, Raptors, Heat, Hayward, More

The Magic will be getting some reinforcements for Friday’s game in Chicago, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Veteran guard Gary Harris has been cleared to make his regular season debut following offseason arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Price reports. Additionally, starting center Wendell Carter Jr. will be back in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game due to a strained right plantar fascia.

Orlando’s opponents also got some good injury-related news on Friday. As Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes, Bulls guard Coby White (left quad contusion) and forward Patrick Williams (right ankle sprain) both said at Friday’s shootaround that they’ll be able to play against the Magic. White has missed the last eight games as a result of his injury; Williams sprained his ankle on Wednesday, but it appears the injury won’t cost him any games.

Here are several more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • As expected, Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon will be available on Friday vs. New Orleans after missing four games with a hamstring injury. However, the team announced that Marcus Smart (right ankle inflammation) will miss a second straight game (Twitter link).
  • The already shorthanded Raptors will be missing Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher on Saturday vs. Atlanta due to non-COVID illnesses, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. However, Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets that Dalano Banton‘s ankle sprain isn’t as serious as initially feared and Pascal Siakam (adductor strain) has resumed on-court activity. Another update on Siakam is expected in a week or so, Koreen adds.
  • Heat star Jimmy Butler (knee soreness) has been ruled out for Friday’s game against Washington and it’s possible that Bam Adebayo (knee contusion) won’t be available either, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Adebayo is currently listed as questionable.
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, who has been on the shelf since November 2 due to a left shoulder contusion, has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Friday’s game vs. Cleveland, according to the team (Twitter link).
  • Pacers sharpshooter Chris Duarte isn’t expected to be available during the team’s upcoming four-game home stand, but could return from his ankle sprain at some point in the subsequent seven-game road trip, tweets Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. That trip begins on November 27 and runs through December 7.
  • Sixers guard Jaden Springer, currently assigned to the Delaware Blue Coats in the G League, will miss at least one week due to a right quadriceps strain, tweets Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Durant, Simmons, Trent

Joel Embiid is very good at basketball” is how teammate Tyrese Maxey summed up the unprecedented stat line the Sixers center posted Sunday night, writes Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. In addition to scoring a career-high 59 points, Embiid narrowly missed a quadruple-double with 11 rebounds, eight assists and seven blocks in a win over Utah.

“I’ve seen a guy score a lot of points. I haven’t seen a guy score a lot of points, rebound, and then the blocked shots. That was impressive. He was getting everything,” coach Doc Rivers said. “No, is the answer. I have never seen a more dominating performance when you combine defense and offense.”

Embiid has been forced to take on a greater share of the scoring with James Harden out for a month with a strained tendon in his left foot. He’s also the centerpiece of a defense that has improved to fifth in the league. Most importantly, according to Neubeck, he provides hope every night for a team that has often seemed in danger of fracturing amid its 7-7 start.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Sixers reached out to the Nets about Kevin Durant after his trade demand this summer and they’re likely to try again before the deadline, an Eastern Conference executive tells Sean Deveney of Heavy. However, the results of the last deal between the teams could make Brooklyn reluctant to consider Philadelphia as a trading partner. “There is no doubt the Sixers have asked on Durant, they did in the summer, and will keep asking about him,” the executive said. “But the Nets are going to be a little put off by them already because of the Ben Simmons thing because they feel like they were set up to give away James Harden all along. So the Sixers burned them once, do the Nets want to go back and say, OK, sure, we’ll do a KD deal, too.” The executive adds that Maxey would likely have to be included in the offer to get Brooklyn to consider it.
  • Simmons didn’t play Sunday night because of knee soreness, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. It hasn’t been determined if he will need another MRI, but Simmons sounded confident that it’s not a long-term issue, Friedell adds.
  • Gary Trent Jr. will miss tonight’s game with a sore right hip, leaving the Raptors without three starters, tweets Josh Lewenburg of TSN Sports. Pascal Siakam is sidelined with an adductor strain, and Fred VanVleet is recovering from a non-COVID illness.

Raptors Notes: Barnes, Trent, Porter, Boucher, Koloko

The Raptors haven’t missed a beat with All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet (back) unavailable for the last two games, recording blowout wins over Atlanta and San Antonio. Reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes has been the team’s primary de facto point guard, recording a season-high eight assists on Monday vs. Atlanta and five more in San Antonio on Wednesday.

Barnes has displayed improvement as both a shooter and a play-maker in the early parts of the 2022/23 season, showing that his development after last year’s impressive debut is right on track, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

As Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes, the Raptors’ strong performances this week – along with Barnes’ strides as a play-maker – are proof that the team should be able to cut back VanVleet’s minutes a little when he returns, even without a reliable traditional point guard on the depth chart behind him.

VanVleet averaged a team-high 37.9 minutes per game last season and was slowed by injuries by the time the playoffs rolled around. In his first six contests this season, he averaged 38.0 MPG.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • With a player option in hand for 2023/24, Gary Trent Jr. is in a potential contract year and is off to a good start, Grange says in another Sportsnet.ca story. While Grange doesn’t necessarily expect Trent to match the $120MM+ deals signed by Tyler Herro and Jordan Poole, who are more talented ball-handlers and play-makers, he notes that Trent is a good defender whose offensive stats (20.0 PPG on .450/.382/.783 shooting in eight games this season) continue to improve.
  • Otto Porter Jr. didn’t play a huge role in his Raptors debut on Wednesday, but head coach Nick Nurse is excited about what the team’s top offseason free agent addition can provide. “I’m just hoping he can do what he’s done, which is make open threes,” Nurse said on Wednesday, per Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. “He’s a really good rebounder, especially positionally. He’s got some good length, so hopefully he can play some defense as well. But really, the perimeter shooting is his specialty and it’s something we could use.”
  • Chris Boucher, who also signed a multiyear free agent contract with Toronto over the summer, is a developmental success story for the Raptors, Koreen contends in a story for The Athletic. Considered a raw “tweener” when he first joined the team, Boucher has become one of the Raptors’ most reliable and productive reserves.
  • In the early part of the 2022/23 season, the Raptors rank first in the NBA in fast break points, steals per game, and defensive rebounding rate, using a terrific transition offense to make up for their subpar half-court production, as Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) outlines.
  • In the same Insider article at ESPN, Lowe also touches on the early impact of rookie big man Christian Koloko. Toronto is allowing just 97 points per 100 possessions with Koloko on the floor, which is better than Milwaukee’s league-best rate of 101.3 points per 100 posessions.

Atlantic Notes: Trent, Achiuwa, Morris, Barrett

While Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Scottie Barnes look like safe bets to be part of the Raptors‘ starting lineup this fall, the fifth spot may come down to Gary Trent Jr. vs. Precious Achiuwa. And, as Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, both players will be motivated to have big years — Trent can become an unrestricted free agent next offseason if he declines his 2023/24 player option, while Achiuwa will become eligible for a rookie scale extension in 2023.

If the Raptors decide Achiuwa’s size makes him a better fit for that starting role, Trent is still capable of maintaining or improving his value while coming off the bench, Koreen argues. As a sixth man, Trent’s usage rate would likely be higher than it would be as a starter. Throw in the fact that he’ll only be 24 years old next summer and projects to be part of a playoff team, and Trent should be in line for a nice payday whether he’s a starter or a reserve in 2022/23.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Nets‘ one-year deal with Markieff Morris won’t be guaranteed, according to reports from ESPN and Brian Lewis of The New York Post. We’ll have to wait until after the signing is official to confirm whether Morris’ salary will be fully non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed — either way, he seems like a good bet to earn a regular season roster spot if he looks healthy in training camp.
  • There aren’t many NBA executives who have a “down-the-middle” take on Knicks forward RJ Barrett, according to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic, who says some talent evaluators view him as a future All-Star while others question his shooting ability, his decision making, and/or his touch around the basket. Vecenie explains within his article why he’s a believer in Barrett’s long-term potential.
  • For more on Barrett’s extension and how it affects Donovan Mitchell trade talks, be sure to check out our Knicks page, which has been busy so far this week.

And-Ones: Kurucs, Smith, Iguodala, Brooks, Trent Jr.

Former NBA forward Rodions Kurucs has officially signed a one-year contract with Real Betis Baloncesto in Seville, Spain, according to a team press release. The Spanish team’s interest in Kurucs was reported earlier this month.

Kurucs has appeared in 131 NBA games, including a total of 21 with Brooklyn, Milwaukee and Houston during the 2020/21 campaign. He played with KK Partizan in Serbia last season. Kurucs also saw action in four Summer League contests with the Raptors in July.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • French big man Victor Wembanyama and G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson are the early favorites to go 1-2 in next year’s draft. Who’s No. 3? Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo chooses Arkansas freshman guard Nick Smith. Woo unveils his early first-round mock for 2023, which is filled with wings and guards.
  • Andre Iguodala believes the NBA should continue to play 82 regular season games, Lee Tran of FadeAwayWorld.net relays. On his Point Forward podcast, Iguodala says the grind of an NBA season “separates the men from the boys,” adding “We can’t change 82 games. 82 games … there’s a mental side of it. That’s why we talk about rookie wall. Records are made to be broken, and as we get better over time we’ll break more records. But I do think that there’s a foundation in all sports, you have to carry on that tradition.”
  • Dillon Brooks, Gary Trent Jr. and Victor Oladipo are among the potential free agents in next year’s class who could pump up their value during the upcoming season, Dan Devine of The Ringer writes. Devine takes a closer look at eight “compelling” players to watch as they head into possible contract years.

Raptors Notes: Harris, Koloko, Trent, Birch

The Raptors have several options with Jalen Harris now that they’ve reportedly extended a two-way qualifying offer, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes in a mailbag column. Harris, who was dismissed from the NBA in July of 2021 for violating the terms of the league’s anti-drug program, was reinstated last week.

The QO makes Harris a restricted free agent and gives Toronto the opportunity to match any offer he might receive. He can also be signed-and-traded, although Koreen believes that’s unlikely considering his year-long absence.

The Raptors are likely targeting Harris for their G League affiliate, but first he would have to sign an Exhibit 10 contract or enter the G League draft. Toronto currently has 19 players under contract, and Koreen expects the final spot to go to Arizona center Christian Koloko, who was taken with the 33rd pick in this year’s draft. However, rookie forward Gabe Brown has an Exhibit 10 deal and appears ticketed for the G League. Once he’s waived, there would be an opening for Harris.

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Contract considerations may affect how the Raptors utilize Gary Trent Jr. this season, Koreen adds in the same piece. Trent holds an $18.56MM player option for the 2023/24 season, so Koreen believes the team may be reluctant to move him to a full-time sixth-man role, which could reduce his desire to remain in Toronto. Koreen also notes that the Raptors will eventually run into salary issues, so they might not be planning to pay Trent as a starter beyond his current contract. Trent put up career-best numbers in his first full season in Toronto, averaging 18.3 points and 2.0 assists in 70 games.
  • Khem Birch expects to be ready for training camp after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in late May, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Injuries limited the 29-year-old center to 55 games last season.
  • The Raptors are a “sleeping giant” in the East, according to Ben Golliver of the Washington Post. Golliver notes that the organization is set up well for the future with no bad contracts on its books and all its future first-round picks available. Toronto has two current All-Stars in Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, a potential franchise player in Scottie Barnes and a group of rotation players who are all younger than 30.

Kevin Durant Rumors: Price Tag, Raptors, Pelicans, Warriors

Reporting from the Las Vegas Summer League, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says there’s skepticism among league insiders that a Kevin Durant trade will happen anytime soon, and a sense that the situation could linger into training camp.

According to Scotto, five executives he spoke to in Vegas felt as if Minnesota overpaid to acquire Rudy Gobert and increased the Nets‘ asking price for Durant in the process, creating a larger gap between what Brooklyn wants and what potential suitors are willing to give up. One GM told Scotto that he believes Durant is worth “a James Harden-type package.” It’s unclear if that’s a reference to the price paid for Harden by the Nets or the 76ers.

Scotto suggests it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Nets hang onto Durant for a while and wait for a “Godfather offer.” If that offer doesn’t come, the Nets may hope the former MVP changes his mind about wanting a trade and is satisfied to remain in Brooklyn at least for the time being.

Here’s more on the Durant market from Scotto:

  • The Raptors are still “hesitant” to include Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in any offer for Durant, league sources tell HoopsHype. Scotto speculates that a package centered around Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. could be Toronto’s starting point, but notes that the Nets would want more. Scotto is unsure how willing the Raptors are to put OG Anunoby in a package for Durant.
  • According to Scotto, multiple executives are skeptical that the Pelicans will make a strong push for Durant instead of seeing how a healthy Zion Williamson meshes with the promising roster that made the playoffs in 2021/22. Scotto adds that some execs also believe Durant wouldn’t want to be dealt to New Orleans.
  • The Warriors wouldn’t be inclined to give up all of their promising young players – Jordan Poole, James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody – in a trade for Durant, says Scotto.
  • According to Scotto, some rival executives think the Spurs and Pacers are preserving their remaining cap room to see if they can be a salary-dumping ground in a multi-team Durant trade, netting draft assets in the process.

Scotto’s Latest: Jazz, Raptors, Nets, DiVincenzo

Before they reached an agreement to send Rudy Gobert to Minnesota on Friday, the Jazz asked the Raptors about the possibility of acquiring forward OG Anunoby and swingman Gary Trent Jr., league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Toronto was linked to Gobert repeatedly during the first half of the offseason. Still, as great as the three-time Defensive Player of the Year is, it was never clear how badly the Raptors wanted to break up their core to acquire a big man who didn’t fit the versatile, switchable, and positionless brand of basketball the team has adopted. Whether the Raptors balked at Utah’s asking price or the Jazz simply preferred Minnesota’s offer, Gobert is off the table for Toronto.

Here’s more from Scotto:

  • The Celtics, Bucks, Nets, and Bulls are among the teams that expressed interest in Chris Boucher before he agreed to re-sign with the Raptors, while forward Thaddeus Young – who is also returning to Toronto – drew interest from the Celtics and Pacers, according to Scotto.
  • The Nets made it a priority this offseason to land a wing defender capable of guarding multiple positions, which was why they agreed to trade for Royce O’Neale even as news of Kevin Durant‘s trade request was breaking. As Scotto explains, the Nets and Jazz previously explored a deal involving O’Neale and Joe Harris prior to the in-season trade deadline.
  • In addition to receiving interest from teams willing to give him the full taxpayer mid-level exception, Donte DiVincenzo also received an offer from a team with cap space that would’ve exceeded the two-year, $9.3MM contract he’s signing with the Warriors, says Scotto. The second-year player option Golden State gave him and DiVincenzo’s belief that the Warriors give him the best opportunity to play for a contender were factors in his decision to accept less money, Scotto adds.