Goran Dragic

Trade Rumors: Simmons, T. Harris, Magic, Wolves, Cavs

After reporting last week that the Sixers‘ preferred outcome would be to have Ben Simmons play for the team this season and then revisit his trade market in the offseason, Marc Stein said in his latest Substack article that teams around the NBA are skeptical about that stance. As Stein notes, it could be a negotiating ploy to try to get potential trade partners to improve their offers, since the odds of Simmons acquiescing to Philadelphia’s wishes and reporting to the team this season still appear extremely slim.

Stein also reported last week that the Hawks are a team to watch in the Simmons sweepstakes, a subject that ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Marc J. Spears discussed in the latest episode of Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast.

As RealGM relays, Windhorst and Spears have both heard the Sixers are exploring the concept of attaching Tobias Harris to Simmons in any deal. Theoretically, those two players could produce a greater trade return than Simmons on his own, but Harris’ shooting numbers are down this year and his contract isn’t exactly team-friendly — he and Simmons are earning a combined $69MM this season, which would create salary-matching complications.

According to Spears, the Hawks were more interested in discussing just Simmons than trying to construct a deal that also included Harris.

Here are a few more trade rumors and notes from across the league:

Heat Notes: Chalmers, Guy, Depth, Dragic

When veteran guard Mario Chalmers received a call about signing a 10-day hardship contract with the Heat, the two-time champion found it hard to believe, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.

The Heat weren’t in touch with Chalmers and his agents throughout the week. Rather, the opportunity for Chalmers came quickly on Thursday afternoon, a deal he accepted without giving much second thought. The team also badly needed players as it dealt with a sudden COVID-19 outbreak.

“I’m not going to lie. My immediate reaction is I didn’t believe it,” Chalmers admitted. “I thought my agent was playing with me.”

Here are some other notes out of Miami tonight:

Heat Notes: Robinson, Strus, Vincent, Dragic

After making 42.7% of his three-point attempts from 2019-21 and earning a $90MM contract this offseason, Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson is off to a slow start in 2021/22. On the heels of a 1-for-9 night vs. Denver on Monday, Robinson’s three-point rate is down to 32.8% for the season, including just 23.6% in home games.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t have a good explanation for Robinson’s drop in production at home, but also doesn’t sound too concerned that the 27-year-old will struggle all season, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays.

“He just has to stay with it,” Spoelstra said, adding that he thought Robinson got some good looks on Monday. “I don’t have an answer for why it would be different. It’s probably a little bit too short of a sample size this early in the season.”

The Heat have every reason to be patient with Robinson — his new contract runs through at least the 2024/25 season, with an option for ’25/26.

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • If Robinson’s shooting doesn’t improve, the Heat could lean more on Max Strus, Winderman writes in a separate article for the Sun Sentinel. Strus, who signed a two-year, minimum-salary deal over the summer, has gotten off to a solid start from beyond the arc, with a .382 3PT%.
  • The Heat’s point guard depth behind Kyle Lowry looked awfully thin to start the season, but the team’s decision to promote Gabe Vincent to the 15-man roster and allow him to earn the backup point guard spot is working out so far, writes Winderman. Vincent has a career-best .370 3PT% through 18 games (15.1 MPG) and the team has a +9.2 net rating when he’s on the court.
  • While Goran Dragic is very unlikely to end the season with the Raptors, there’s probably not a viable path for him to return to Miami, given the NBA’s rules preventing teams from reacquiring players they traded earlier in the league year, Winderman says in a mailbag for the Sun Sentinel.

Raptors Notes: Anunoby, Dragic, Bench, Boucher

Raptors forward OG Anunoby appeared to be nearing a return from his hip injury last week, having been listed as questionable for multiple games. However, he still hasn’t played and was held out of practice on Monday, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

As Lewenberg explains (via Twitter), Anunoby hasn’t suffered a setback, but he has “hit a wall” in his recovery process, per head coach Nick Nurse. An MRI didn’t show any significant concerns, but the injury isn’t healing as rapidly as the team hoped and remains very sore, according to Lewenberg. There’s still no timeline set for Anunoby’s return.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Goran Dragic‘s personal absence from the Raptors figures to increase speculation about him moving on to a new team, but league sources tell Marc Stein that the big picture remains unchanged for the veteran point guard — a trade market hasn’t materialized for Dragic, and it’s still too early in the season for the two sides to have a productive buyout discussion. While it’s possible Dragic has played his last game for the Raptors, it sounds he’ll probably remain on the roster for at least a few more weeks, if not all the way to the trade deadline.
  • It looked briefly last week as if the Raptors might soon have a fully healthy roster, but that hasn’t materialized, and the team’s depth continues to be tested, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, who notes that Toronto ranks last in the NBA in bench scoring. The Raptors’ reliance on their reserves is highlighting the inexperience and inconsistency of that group, Lewenberg adds.
  • Chris Boucher was pulled from the rotation for Sunday’s game vs. Boston, with his minutes going to Isaac Bonga, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. As Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun observes, Boucher looked like a major success story last season, but he’ll be a free agent in 2022 and the Raptors will have to listen if he draws trade interest before then.

Goran Dragic Away From Raptors For Personal Matter

Raptors guard Goran Dragic will be away from the team for an undetermined period of time to attend to a personal matter, the team announced.

The former All-Star has played just five games for Toronto after being included in the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade with Miami in the offseason.

Here is the full statement from general manager Bobby Webster:

Goran is taking some time away from the team, with our full support, to manage a personal matter. He has been a complete professional in the time that he has been with the Raptors – Goran has been a great mentor to our younger players and a valued teammate for our veterans.

He will continue to work out and stay in shape during his time away. There is no definite timeline for this process, and we will advise updates as appropriate. Goran has the backing of Masai [Ujiri], Nick [Nurse] and the entire organization, and we wish him nothing but the best.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweets that this could be a long-term situation, with Dragic staying in Slovenia to attend to the personal matter until a trade or buyout agreement is reached.

Dragic, 35, holds career averages of 13.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists over 872 games (27.9 MPG). He averaged 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in the five games with the Raptors (18.0 MPG).

Raptors Notes: Boucher, Dragic, Siakam, Banton

Nothing has gone as planned for Raptors big man Chris Boucher this season and it’s hard for him to explain why, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. After a breakout season in 2020/21 in which he averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 60 games, Boucher has seen his playing time cut nearly in half as his numbers across the board have plummeted. His shooting has been particularly troubling as he has dropped from 51.4% to 37.2% from the field and from 38.3% to 18.4% from three-point range.

“I feel like I’ve been searching to get that feeling again, feeling like you’re doing the right thing and in the right spot,” Boucher said. “I’ve been missing that feeling … I’m not satisfied. These 10 games I played like I couldn’t play or wasn’t the player I’m supposed to (be).”

The slow start may be partially explained by a surgical procedure on a sprained finger that caused him to miss the preseason. Smith notes that Boucher didn’t return with the same energy and his shooting stroke was off as his misfired on 27 of his first 33 three-point attempts.

“I was doing so good in training camp, and then you get hurt in preseason,” Boucher said. “The team gets chemistry (when) you’re out of it. You’ve got to find a way to introduce yourself to the team.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • An injury to Fred VanVleet forced the Raptors to turn to Goran Dragic for the first time in three weeks Saturday night and the veteran guard logged a season-high 28 minutes, per Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Dragic may still be unlikely to finish the season with Toronto, Koreen adds, but he provides creativity and can be useful on a fill-in basis. “I was out of breath, but it was fine,” Dragic said. “I found out before the game so I was a little bit surprised, but I was ready.”
  • Pascal Siakam played nearly 35 minutes on Saturday and it appears his minutes restriction is about to be lifted, Koreen states in the same piece. Siakam played his third game since returning from shoulder surgery and has been lobbying the team’s director of sports science to clear him for full-time duty.
  • Rookie Dalano Banton, who has bounced back and forth between the Raptors and the G League, played for the fourth straight night Saturday, Koreen adds. “He’s carved out a role on this team maybe faster than anyone expected,” coach Nick Nurse said. “It was a little bit of a tricky situation, playing four in four. He wanted to play. There were some things he wanted to work on. For the big picture, it’s a good move for him and for the team.”

Raptors Notes: Dragic, Dekker, Bonga, Achiuwa, Barnes

The Raptors are on a four-game winning streak, but Goran Dragic has been a DNP-CD in all four games, raising questions about his place on the roster. While the veteran point guard clearly isn’t a long-term keeper for the Raptors, there’s no indication that he’ll be traded or bought out anytime soon, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.

As Grange explains, it’s too early in the season for any real trade market to develop for Dragic, and it’s unlikely that either the player or the team wants to make significant concessions in a buyout arrangement.

For now then, the two sides remain in an “amicable” holding pattern, says Grange — Dragic will remain on the roster as a respected veteran and talented backup, and his situation will be revisited closer to the February trade deadline.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Within the same story, Grange says the Raptors seem likely to cut either Sam Dekker or Isaac Bonga in the coming days. Both players’ salaries for 2021/22 will become guaranteed if they remain on the roster through November 6 and Toronto can duck under the luxury tax line by waiving one or the other. Dekker and Bonga have played a combined eight total minutes this season, and would be pushed further down the depth chart once Pascal Siakam and Yuta Watanabe return from their respective injuries.
  • Precious Achiuwa was one of the Raptors’ key offseason acquisitions, but the young center has experienced some growing pains so far this season. As Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, head coach Nick Nurse benched Achiuwa in favor of backup center Khem Birch to open the second half of the team’s win over the Knicks on Monday. Although Birch doesn’t have Achiuwa’s upside, the veteran has exhibited better fundamentals, playing solid team defense, setting screens, and rebounding.
  • Rookie forward Scottie Barnes will miss a second straight game on Wednesday vs. Washington due to a right thumb sprain, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

Eastern Notes: Mobley, LeBron, Celtics, Bucks, Dragic

Lakers superstar LeBron James praised Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley after Los Angeles beat Cleveland 113-101 on Friday night. Mobley finished with 23 points, six rebounds and two steals in just his sixth NBA game, catching James’ eye.

“He’s going to be a damn good basketball player in this league,” James said, according to Mark Medina of NBA.com. “Cleveland has a good one. They’ve done a good job over the years in the draft, I’ll say.”

Cleveland has started Mobley alongside Lauri Markkanen and Jarrett Allen, deploying one of the biggest lineups in the league. The 20-year-old was selected by the team No. 3 overall in July’s draft.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

  • Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston examines potential trade targets for the Celtics, noting that any acquisition should fit well alongside Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Boston has opened the season with a 2-3 record, sporting a rotation that includes new additions Dennis Schroder, Al Horford and Josh Richardson.
  • The Bucks will visit the White House on November 8, becoming the first team to do so since 2016, Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com reports. Milwaukee will celebrate winning the 2020/21 NBA championship — its first since 1971.
  • Raptors guard Goran Dragic received his second straight DNP-CD (did not play, coach’s decision) on Friday, Michael Grange of Sportsnet tweets. “He’s a very approachable guy, very professional guy,” head coach Nick Nurse said of Dragic. “I talk to him everyday and I pretty much just tell him to stay ready… We’ll see where it goes from there.” Dragic is still viewed as a strong candidate to be traded during the season.

Western Notes: Howard, Davis, Mitchell, Doncic, Dragic, Beverley

Dwight Howard tried to downplay his altercation with Anthony Davis during the Lakers’ loss to Phoenix on Friday night, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The two big man had a verbal exchange on the bench during the second quarter.

“We squashed it right then and there,” Howard said. “We just had a disagreement about something that was on the floor. We’re both very passionate about winning.”

Davis said of the spat, “it’s over with.” Howard is one of many Lakers bench players signed to a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Kings surprised a lot of people when they drafted a guard, Davion Mitchell, in the lottery for the second straight year, but Mitchell is already making an impression with his ball-hawking defense, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. Swingman Buddy Hield has high praise for the rookie. “I think he’s the best on-ball defender in the league,” he said. “The way he hawks the ball is different. His lateral movement. The way he closes out is different. It’s just a special gift he has.”
  • The Mavericks will play Toronto on Saturday in a matchup of Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic at the point. The Slovenian national team members could soon join forces in the NBA, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News notes. There were rumors swirling during the offseason after Dragic was traded to the Raptors that he could eventually wind up in Dallas. That could happen closer to the trade deadline or perhaps next summer, when Dragic becomes a free agent.
  • Patrick Beverley will make his Timberwolves debut on Saturday after serving a one-game league suspension. He’s says his impact on the young Minnesota roster will go beyond the stat sheet, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “Born leader, came natural for me since I was a kid, very outspoken,” Beverley said. “Even some of my ex-Clippers guards, teammates [Thursday] night after their loss to Golden State, they called me and we chopped it up a little bit. I always have a good positive spirit, positive energy. That just kind of rubs off on people every night.”

Raptors Notes: Roster Battle, Siakam, Boucher, Anunoby

The fight to make the Raptors‘ 15-man regular season squad has been one of the NBA’s more competitive preseason roster battles, with Sam Dekker, Ishmail Wainright, and Isaac Bonga vying to earn two spots (or just one, if Toronto opens the season with 14 players). Addressing the competition today, Dekker said he’ll be happy for Wainright and/or Bonga if they beat him out for a roster spot.

“These are guys I’ll stay in touch with for a long time no matter what and I’m always going to cheer for them, because it’s the weakness of a man to root for someone to fail,” Dekker said, adding that his current teammates are some of the “kindest human beings” he knows (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).

Wainright also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to make his case for a regular season roster spot, regardless of what the Raptors decide.

“No matter how it goes, I’m not going to hang my head,” Wainright said (Twitter link via Lewenberg). “My family always told me when one door closes, another opens. I’m coming out of this a better man, a better basketball player, a better person, period… Whatever happens, I gave it my all from start to finish.”

All three players have had strong camps, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link). While many teams will set their rosters by Saturday, the Raptors could wait until Monday if they want, since Dekker, Wainright, and Bonga all have partial guarantees. That means their cap hits would remain unchanged if they don’t clear waivers until after the regular season begins, unlike a player on a non-guaranteed deal, who must be waived by Saturday for a team to avoid incurring a small cap charge.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Tuesday, head coach Nick Nurse said that Pascal Siakam (shoulder) is starting contact work this week and may only be a few weeks away from returning, while big man Chris Boucher (finger) is about 10 days away (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca).
  • With Siakam sidelined to start the season and Kyle Lowry no longer a Raptor, the team is grooming OG Anunoby to be a centerpiece of its offense, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “He’s our number one option right now,” Fred VanVleet said of his teammate. “He’s been great, he’s been assertive finding his spots, I think me and him are finding a little bit of rhythm together, so it’s good to see.”
  • Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca takes a look at the battle between Goran Dragic and Gary Trent Jr. for the second starting spot in the backcourt alongside VanVleet, suggesting Dragic appears to have the upper hand.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic didn’t love the terms of the Raptors’ free agent contracts with Trent and Khem Birch, but praised the team for getting Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk on a minimum-salary deal. Hollinger projects the team to finish with a 40-42 record, good for ninth in the East.