Justin Champagnie

Atlantic Notes: Grimes, Vonleh, Nurse, Maxey, Rivers

In an effort to upgrade his skills on the ball and as a play-maker, second-year Knicks guard Quentin Grimes trained with four-time NBA All-Star and current University of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway for a second consecutive offseason, per Zach Braziller of the New York Post (subscription required).

“He’s kind of like a big uncle to me,” Grimes said of Hardaway. “Just took me under his wing and helped me play the point guard position a lot better, because that’s what I was in high school… Last year, they didn’t necessarily need me to do that — got to come in, play extremely hard on defense, knock down shots. I feel like next year my role will be expanded a little bit more. … I’m a scorer, really. I love getting to the mid-range, getting all the way to the rim, getting fouled. I like having an all-around game.”

The 6’5″ shooting guard out of Houston was selected with the No. 25 pick in the 2021 draft. A right kneecap injury and a bout with COVID-19 limited his on-court availability to just 46 contests. In 17.1 MPG, he averaging 6.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 APG and 0.7 SPG. As Braziller writes, Grimes shone bright during Summer League in Las Vegas last month, averaging 21.4 PPG on 41% field goal shooting, plus 4.2 RPG and 4.0 APG.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic explores how 2014 lottery pick Noah Vonleh could help the Celtics if he makes the team’s 15-man regular season roster following his training camp audition. Weiss thinks Boston could benefit from Vonleh’s abilities as a screener with some defensive versatility as a post presence. In 339 games played for seven teams, the 26-year-old holds averages of 4.9 PPG and 5.1 RPG. He spent last year with the Shanghai Sharks of the CBA. In terms of NBA action, Vonleh most recently suited up for the Nets during the 2020/21 season.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is preparing to juggle the challenge of doling out time for three exciting bench players who are still in early phases of their NBA development, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. When it comes allocating rotation minutes for Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton and Justin Champagnie, Nurse spoke candidly about his approach. “I can envision sitting in front of [media members] a lot here coming up in these press conferences, pre- and post-game, asking me about why he played and why he didn’t,” Nurse said. “I think there will be some serious finessing about it, but it’s turning in my head a little bit and I can see us using a lot of them different ways.”
  • During an appearance on the Vince Carter Show podcast, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers heaped praise on breakout shooting guard Tyrese Maxey (h/t to Adam Herman of NBC Sports Philadelphia for the transcription). “He’s the most impressive young player I’ve ever had, in 21 years of coaching,” Rivers said. “His work ethic, Vince, is beyond belief.” As Herman notes, Rivers has coached All-Stars like Blake Griffin, Al Jefferson, Ben Wallace, and Rajon Rondo in similarly early phases of their NBA careers. Maxey enjoyed an excellent second season in 2021/22. His 17.5 PPG, 4.3 APG, and 3.2 RPG are all almost double his rookie season output.

Raptors Sign Justin Champagnie To Two-Year Contract

The Raptors have signed Justin Champagnie to a two-year contract, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet tweets.

It’s a minimum-salary deal with a $325K partial guarantee for the first year, Murphy adds.

The structure of the contract means Champagnie will still be competing for a roster spot in camp. D.J. Wilson got a similar deal from Toronto last week.

They will compete with Armoni Brooks and David Johnson for the remaining roster openings. Rookie Ron Harper Jr. holds one of the two-way contract spots. That signing is now official, according to the NBA transactions log.

Champagnie held a two-way slot at the end of last season and received a qualifying offer, which made him a restricted free agent. The size of his new partial guarantee makes him ineligible for a two-way slot with Toronto this season, Murphy adds in another tweet.

Champagnie fractured his thumb during Summer League practices, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets, but is expected to fully recover by training camp,

The undrafted wing, who turned 21 last month, appeared in 36 regular-season games last season. He averaged 2.3 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 7.8 MPG.

Miles Bridges, Collin Sexton Among Players Receiving QOs

The Hornets have issued qualifying offers to a pair of forwards, officially making Miles Bridges and Cody Martin restricted free agents, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

Bridges’ qualifying offer is worth $7,921,300 as a result of him meeting the starter criteria in 2021/22. That one-year offer is essentially a placeholder, giving the Hornets the ability to match any offer sheet Bridges signs as a free agent. He could accept the QO, but will likely receive a far more lucrative long-term contract — perhaps even a max deal.

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak expressed confidence in the team’s ability to re-sign Bridges today, telling reporters that “we’re going to bring him back.”

As for Martin, his qualifying offer is worth a more modest $2,228,276. He’s coming off a strong season as a rotation player in Charlotte and has earned a raise himself, albeit not one as substantial as the one Bridges will receive.

Bridges and Martin rank sixth and 29th, respectively, on our list of the top 50 free agents of 2022, and will each move up a spot when we officially remove Kyrie Irving.

Here are a few more qualifying offer updates from around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers have extended qualifying offers to Collin Sexton and RJ Nembhard, making both players restricted free agents, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter links). Sexton’s QO will be worth $7,228,448 instead of $8,559,357 because his torn meniscus prevented him from meeting the starter criteria. Nembard’s QO is for a two-way deal with a small partial guarantee.
  • The Raptors made qualifying offers to both of their two-way free agents, Justin Champagnie and David Johnson, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto has reportedly agreed to a two-way deal with Ron Harper Jr., which would leave only one two-way slot for Champagnie or Johnson, so perhaps the team plans to promote one of them to a standard contract.
  • The Raptors also continued their annual tradition of submitting a qualifying offer to French guard Nando De Colo, who has been out of the NBA since 2014 and continues to play for Fenerbahçe in Turkey, Murphy notes. There’s no indication De Colo will ever return to the NBA, but if he does, the 35-year-old’s RFA rights would be controlled by Toronto. The qualifying offer projects to be worth $2,011,516, based on a $122MM cap.

Raptors Rumors: Anunoby, VanVleet, Boucher, Young, More

The Raptors aren’t actively looking to trade forward OG Anunoby, Michael Scotto said in the latest episode of The HoopsHype Podcast. According to Scotto, it would require a “substantial” return for Toronto to consider moving Anunoby, along the lines of a significant upgrade at center or a top-10 draft pick. That’s similar to what Jake Fischer has recently reported.

Scotto’s guest, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet 590 The Fan, agrees that it would take “a lot” for the Raptors to seriously considering moving Anunoby, noting that assistant GM Dan Tolzman recently expressed skepticism when asked if the No. 7 pick in this year’s draft would develop at the same rate and with the same ceiling as Anunoby.

While Murphy acknowledges that Anunoby would be an obvious trade candidate if the Raptors attempt to trade for an impact player, he believes the team would rather enter the 2022/23 season without a traditional center than include Anunoby in a trade for a center who isn’t as well-rounded and versatile a player as the 24-year-old forward.

Murphy and Scotto also point out that Toronto is high on Precious Achiuwa, whose role would be cut back if the team added a starting center to play 30-35 minutes per night.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Fred VanVleet and the Raptors are expected to discuss a possible contract extension this offseason, league sources tell Scotto. If VanVleet were to decline his 2023/24 player option, he could extend for up to four years and $114MM this summer. However, Murphy doesn’t think there will be a rush to get anything done, since Toronto will hold VanVleet’s Bird rights and would be in the driver’s seat to re-sign him if he opts out in 2023.
  • The Raptors have interest in re-signing both Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young in free agency, according to Scotto. Murphy observes that the team should have about $31MM in wiggle room below the luxury tax line, which could be used to bring back Boucher and Young and fill out the roster, possibly using the mid-level exception. A deal in the mid-level range ($10MM) might make sense for Boucher, Murphy adds.
  • Addressing Boucher’s free agency in his own story today, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report suggested that it seems safe to “pencil in” the big man’s return to Toronto.
  • Svi Mykhailiuk‘s decision on his $1.88MM player option may go down to the wire, according to Scotto, who says June 22 is the deadline for Mykhailiuk to opt in.
  • Murphy would be shocked if two-way restricted free agent Justin Champagnie doesn’t remain with the Raptors, perhaps on a two-year, minimum-salary deal.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Thibodeau, M. Robinson, Raptors

Despite being one of the NBA’s marquee franchises, the Celtics haven’t hosted the All-Star Game since Bill Russell played for the team, back in 1964. According to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, the team may be interested in changing that. Sources tell Washburn that the Celtics’ ownership group is taking steps to submit an application to host the event.

As Washburn writes, the Celtics don’t own the TD Garden outright, which is a logistical hurdle that must be overcome, and the locales for the next two All-Star Games – Utah in 2023 and Indiana in 2024 – have already been set. But the fact that Boston is taking steps toward applying is noteworthy, according to Washburn, who says the ownership group’s interest level in hosting the game has long been “tepid” until now.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Marc Berman of The New York Post argues that Tom Thibodeau shouldn’t be the fall guy for a disappointing Knicks season, observing that the front office made multiple roster moves Thibodeau wasn’t gung-ho about, including adding Kemba Walker and letting Reggie Bullock walk in free agency. Thibodeau also reportedly wasn’t exactly pushing for last month’s Cam Reddish trade. “They haven’t collaborated with him like they did last year,” a coaching source tells Berman.
  • Sean Deveney of Heavy.com spoke to one rival general manager who thinks Mitchell Robinson‘s next contract will be in the range of the full mid-level exception, projecting a three-year, $33MM deal. The Knicks center, who is currently extension-eligible, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic looks at some of the questions facing the Raptors for the rest of the 2021/22 season, including how important Precious Achiuwa and Dalano Banton are to the franchise, both in the present and future. As Koreen notes, Achiuwa and Banton have played well enough to warrant regular roles, but they don’t contribute much in the half-court offense, which has been Toronto’s biggest Achilles heel.
  • Within the same story, Koreen suggests the most likely outcome for the Raptors‘ open 15-man roster spot is that two-way player Justin Champagnie is promoted to fill it.

Raptors Waive Drew Eubanks

5:40pm: The Raptors have officially waived Eubanks, according to a press release from the team.


3:18pm: The Raptors plan to waive big man Drew Eubanks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Eubanks was just acquired as part of a trade that brought Thaddeus Young to Toronto.

Eubanks, 25, went undrafted out of Oregon State in 2018, but caught on with the Spurs. He was on a two-way contract his first couple seasons before signing a guaranteed deal in 2020, which ran through the end of this season. The Raptors will be on the hook for what’s left of his $1.76MM salary this season.

Eubanks could be a candidate for teams on the buyout candidate for looking for size, as he’s been productive in limited minutes during his career. Through 49 games this season, he averaged 4.7 PPG and 4.0 RPG in just 12.1 MPG.

Given Eubanks’ solid track record in limited minutes, the decision to cut him is a little surprising, but his release makes it clear the Raptors were solely targeting Young in their deal with San Antonio. GM Bobby Webster referred to Young as a “high-level professional” whose defensive versatility will fit well with Toronto’s aggressive, switching scheme, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). Webster also said the team has been interested in the forward’s services for a long time.

Webster also said the Raptors had multiple other options at the deadline, including taking on more money this season or beyond, but the deals fell apart for various reasons, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet tweets. Toronto still has a portion of the mid-level exception remaining to possibly dangle to a free agent, Webster notes. Murphy points out that the Raptors could opt to sign someone to a 10-day deal if they choose to go for maximum flexibility, since March 1 is the cutoff date for a player to be waived while maintaining his playoff eligibility.

As Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports relays (via Twitter), trading Goran Dragic provided additional room under the luxury tax threshold, and waiving Eubanks will give them the flexibility to look for another player on the buyout market or convert Justin Champagnie‘s two-way deal into a standard contract. Lewenberg deems the latter scenario to be more likely.

Sources tell Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link) that the Raptors discussed the matter with Champagnie, but opted to wait until after the trade deadline. Grange notes that by taking on less money and waiving Eubanks, the Raptors can possibly convert Champagnie earlier and still have him be eligible for the playoffs without tax concerns.

NBA Fines Mavs’ Porzingis, Hornets’ Washington, Raptors’ Champagnie

Three NBA players have been fined $15K apiece by the league for recent violations, according to a pair of press releases.

Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis received his $15K fine for kicking the game ball into the stands during the fourth quarter of his team’s blowout loss to Golden State on Tuesday. Porzingis received a technical foul and was ejected at the time of the incident — now he’ll face an additional penalty, though losing $15K of his $31.65MM salary is hardly an exorbitant punishment.

Meanwhile, Hornets forward P.J. Washington and Raptors forward Justin Champagnie were each fined $15K for their involvement in an on-court altercation during the first quarter of Tuesday’s game in Toronto.

As the league outlined in its announcement, Washington hip-checked Champagnie to the ground and the Raptors rookie retaliated by shoving Washington in the back. The Hornets forward escalated the incident by “forcefully shoving” Champagnie, according to the league. Both players received technical fouls and were ejected.

The penalties will sting a little more for Washington and especially Champagnie than for Porzingis. Washington has a $4.2MM salary this season, while Champagnie is a two-way player whose 2021/22 earnings can max out at about $752K.

COVID-19 Updates: Vogel, Lue, Pelicans, Raptors, Pokusevski

One Los Angeles team is getting its head coach out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols today, while the other has placed their coach in the protocols.

The Lakers got the good news, as Frank Vogel has cleared the protocols and will be back on the sidelines for the team on Friday night vs. Portland, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). David Fizdale will return to his role as Vogel’s lead assistant after serving as the acting head coach for the last 12 days.

Meanwhile, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has entered the protocols, according to an announcement from the team. Lue, the 10th head coach to be affected by the protocols this month, will be replaced in the short term by assistant Brian Shaw.

Here are more protocol-related updates from across the NBA:

  • The Pelicans got Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Naji Marshall, and Jose Alvarado back at practice today following their respective stints in the COVID-19 protocols, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.com. New Orleans isn’t entirely out of the woods though — center Jonas Valanciunas has entered the protocols, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • According to Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link), Raptors rookie Justin Champagnie has exited the protocols, leaving Isaac Bonga as the only player from the team’s standard roster still affected. However, one of Toronto’s replacement players – D.J. Wilson – has now entered the protocols, Murphy notes.
  • Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski is no longer in the protocols and will be available for Friday’s contest vs. the Knicks, says Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).

COVID-19 Updates: Celtics, Lakers, Raptors

Celtics reserve point guard Dennis Schröder has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will not play in today’s Christmas game against the Bucks, the team has announced (Twitter link). He joins eight other Celtics in the protocols.

In a more positive twist, Juancho Hernangómez, Jabari Parker, and Brodric Thomas have exited the league’s COVID-19 protocols and are available for today’s game, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (via Twitter). Guards Marcus Smart, who has been dealing with a hip injury, and Romeo Langford, who has missed time due to an Achilles injury, are also available. Boston center Al Horford is out of the league’s coronavirus protocols but is still working on his conditioning and has been ruled out for the contest.

Here are more COVID-19 protocol updates from around the NBA:

  • Lakers guards Avery Bradley and Malik Monk have left the league’s COVID-19 protocols and will be able to suit up today for Los Angeles against the Nets, per Bill Oram of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Raptors players Khem Birch, Isaac Bonga, and Justin Champagnie have entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols, though Dalano Banton has apparently exited, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link). A total of 10 Toronto players are now in the protocols. Toronto’s previously-scheduled game on Wednesday, against the Bulls, was canceled as a result of the Raptors not having enough players available. The team’s next game is scheduled for tomorrow against the Cavaliers. Lewenberg adds (via Twitter) that Raptors rookie shooting guard David Johnson (calf) and veteran point guard Goran Dragic (personal) also continue to be unavailable.
  • Keep track of all the NBA players within the league’s health and safety protocols on our tracker here.

Atlantic Notes: Iverson, Sixers, Watanabe, Raptors, Celtics

Former Sixers star Allen Iverson would be interested in working for an NBA team, he said during a conversation with Taylor Rooks of Bleacher Report (video link; hat tip to RealGM). Iverson told Rooks that he’s “forgotten more basketball than some people know” and would love to put his expertise to use by helping current NBA players — especially if he could so in Philadelphia with his old team.

“I’m a Sixer for life. I’ve got Sixer blood pumping through me. Everybody knows that I want to help that organization,” Iverson said. “I’ve been retired, what, 11 years? I don’t know how I’m not a part of that staff (in) some kind of way.”

Iverson added that he’s not necessarily interested in being “the guy that’s right up front” (ie. a head coach) and that even just being a consultant for the Sixers would make him happy.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Addressing reports that the Sixers and Pacers have discussed a potential Ben Simmons trade, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer says that if the 76ers can get Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, and a future first-round pick in exchange for Simmons, they should pull the trigger. Philadelphia and Indiana have reportedly discussed both Brogdon and LeVert, though it’s unclear if either club has made an offer along those lines.
  • Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe is battling a left calf strain and won’t be available for Thursday’s game in Philadelphia, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. As Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweets, the injury is considered minor, so hopefully it won’t affect Watanabe’s standing as he fights for a spot on Toronto’s 15-man regular season roster.
  • While Scottie Barnes is drawing far more interest, the Raptors‘ “other” rookies – Dalano Banton and Justin Champagnie – are also vying for playing time, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca details. Given the team’s roster turnover and injury issues, there are opportunities in the rotation available for the taking, Grange writes for Sportsnet.ca.
  • Al Horford‘s return to Boston reunites him with Robert Williams, who considered Horford a veteran role model during his previous stint with the Celtics. Jared Weiss of The Athletic spoke to the two big men about their relationship during Williams’ rookie year in 2018/19 and how they can help one another going forward.