Khem Birch

Raptors Notes: Anunoby, Siakam, Barnes, Birch, Achiuwa

Raptors forward OG Anunoby, who has been sidelined since the All-Star break due to a fractured right ring finger, was reevaluated on Monday, according to Blake Murphy of (Twitter link).

“It’s kinda the same,” head coach Nick Nurse said of Anunoby’s finger injury. “It’s not fully healed. He’s got a decision to make.”

According to Nurse, the plan is for Anunoby to practice on Tuesday and see how he feels — the team will know more at that point about his status. Nurse’s comment about Anunoby having a “decision” to make suggests that playing through the injury before it has fully healed could be an option if the pain isn’t too bad.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • As Eric Koreen writes for The Athletic, Pascal Siakam and Scottie Barnes are both technically forwards, but their versatile skill sets allows them to function as de facto point guards at times, and they’re developing intriguing chemistry together. “I think we have kind of like similar skill sets, and we always feel like we have a mismatch every time down the floor,” Siakam said over the weekend.
  • Noting that Toronto enjoyed success in Denver on Saturday with a shooting-deficient lineup made up of Barnes, Khem Birch, Thaddeus Young, Chris Boucher, and Dalano Banton, Eric Koreen explores Nurse’s unconventional rotation decisions, dubbing the Raptors the NBA’s “delightful weirdos.”
  • Birch appreciates the Raptors’ willingness to stick with him as a rotation regular and a frequent starter, given how much time he has missed this season due to injuries and illnesses. “Honestly, I feel like with any other team I probably wouldn’t even be playing right now,” said Birch, who has missed 26 of 68 games (link via Doug Smith of The Toronto Star). “The fact that they just have that type of confidence in me despite all the injuries I’ve had, all the setbacks, and I’m still getting minutes tells a lot about how they feel about me, and it gives me a lot of confidence to keep going despite my injury.”
  • Nekias Duncan of examines the progress that Raptors center Precious Achiuwa has made in his second NBA season and the areas where he still has room to improve.

Raptors’ OG Anunoby Fractures Right Ring Finger

Raptors forward OG Anunoby has been ruled out for Friday’s game vs. Charlotte due to a fractured right ring finger, tweets Josh Lewenberg of According to Michael Grange of (Twitter link), Anunoby’s finger was sore “for a while” before the All-Star break and X-rays this week showed a small fracture.

It seems safe to assume Anunoby will miss some time beyond tonight’s game due to the injury, which affects his shooting hand, Lewenberg notes. Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets that the plan is for the 24-year-old to rest while the team further assesses the injury.

Anunoby has averaged a career-high 17.5 PPG in 42 games (36.7 MPG) for the Raptors this season, though his shooting numbers (.436/.351/.748) have dipped a little as he has become more of a focal point in the offense. He has also averaged 5.5 RPG, 2.6 APG, and 1.5 SPG.

Beginning tonight, the Raptors play six games in eight days — they have back-to-back sets tonight and Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, and next Thursday and Friday.

As Lewenberg tweets, the Raptors may lean on newly-acquired forward Thaddeus Young to play an increased role in Anunoby’s absence, though Khem Birch is probably the favorite to take Anunoby’s place in the starting lineup.

Lakers Sought Trades With Knicks, Raptors, Celtics

Rival executives tried to take advantage of the Lakers’ predicament, which ultimately led to VP of basketball operations Rob Pelinka standing pat at the trade deadline, according to The Athletic’s Bill Oram.

Other teams wanted the Lakers to take on bad contracts or give up their limited draft capital, including their 2027 first round pick, to facilitate potential deals, according to Oram.

The Lakers were unable to gain any traction on a potential Russell Westbrook deal. They tried to put together some lower-level deals, including a proposed three-way trade with the Knicks and Raptors. Toronto big men Khem Birch and Chris Boucher and Knicks wing Cam Reddish could have been on the move, but those fell apart after the other two teams couldn’t agree on draft compensation.

The Lakers also mulled a possible reunion with Dennis Schröder, though there was some pushback from some members of the organization. The Lakers still pursued a deal with the Celtics but Boston’s high asking price ended those negotiations. The Celtics wound up trading Schröder to Houston.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis were consulted on potential trades and understood why Pelinka chose to stand pat, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.

“You can’t force another team to present yourself with a deal that is going to make your team be better. That’s up to them,” Pelinka said. “And throughout this process we had different things we looked at and like I’ve done in the past had conversations with LeBron and Anthony about it and I would say there’s alignment here. And that’s all that matters.”

The Lakers will monitor the buyout market but would have to waive a player since their roster is full.

Injury Updates: Mitchell, Gobert, Green, Iguodala, Anthony, James, Birch

Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert were named as All-Star reserves on Thursday. The Jazz also got positive injury news regarding their top players.

Mitchell has cleared the NBA’s concussion protocol and will be available for the team’s game against the Nets on Friday, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Mitchell hasn’t played since January 17. Gobert won’t play on Friday but could return early next week, MacMahon adds. The big man is dealing with a calf strain and hasn’t seen action since January 23rd.

We have more injury-related news:

  • Warriors forward Draymond Green is skipping the All-Star Game due to a back injury. Green said on Thursday he won’t need surgery but estimates it will be at least three-to-four weeks before he can play again, Marc Stein tweets.
  • Another Warriors forward, Andre Iguodala, says he’s close to returning from a left hip injury, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Iguodala hasn’t played since logging 31 minutes on January 20. Iguodala indicated that persistent knee swelling created a “chain reaction” that has led to other ailments.
  • Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony exited the team’s game against the Clippers on Thursday due to a right hamstring strain, McMenamin tweets. LeBron James missed his fifth straight game due to swelling in his left knee, McMenamin adds in another tweet.
  • Raptors big man Khem Birch played on Thursday for the first time since January 14. He only saw five minutes of action. Birch required plastic surgery after his nose was fractured. He’ll have to wear a mask for approximately six weeks, Michael Grange of tweets.

Atlantic Rumors: Claxton, Simmons, C. Brown, Birch

The Nets appear to have “dipped their toe” into the trade market for Nicolas Claxton, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst stated on his latest Hoop Collective podcast, adding that he has heard about Claxton’s possible availability from two different teams (hat tip to RealGM). While Brooklyn may not be actively looking to move the young center, the team is at least “feeling out” the market, Windhorst says.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the Nets considering the possibility of a Claxton trade. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said last month that Brooklyn “quietly gauged” the 22-year-old’s value at the 2021 draft. Fischer also reported that some rival executives believed the Nets would make Claxton available ahead of this season’s trade deadline.

Claxton will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, and the Nets – already far above the luxury tax line – may be hesitant about giving him a sizeable raise. Additionally, rookie big man Day’Ron Sharpe has emerged recently as a viable rotation player who could claim some of Claxton’s minutes.

Still, Mark Deeks of isn’t convinced that trading Claxton would be the right call for the Nets, arguing that it would be difficult for the club to recoup enough value to make it worthwhile in both the short- and long-term.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers star Ben Simmons is open to the possibility of sitting out for the entire 2021/22 season if the team can’t find a trade it likes by next month’s deadline, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne said on Monday’s episode of NBA Today (video link). There have been reports that Philadelphia’s preference would be to get Simmons back on the court this season before potentially trading him in the offseason, but the idea of him playing for the club again has always seemed like a long shot.
  • Charlie Brown Jr.‘s new two-way contract with the Sixers, signed last Tuesday, is a two-year deal covering the 2022/23 season in addition to the rest of ’21/22, Hoops Rumors has learned. That doesn’t mean Brown will definitely remain in Philadelphia through next season, but it ensures he’ll receive at least a $50K partial guarantee for ’22/23.
  • Raptors center Khem Birch, who suffered a nasal fracture on Friday, underwent surgery to repair his broken nose over the weekend, tweets Josh Lewenberg of Head coach Nick Nurse expects Birch to be out for about 10-to-14 days, Lewenberg adds.

COVID-19 Updates: Wizards, Billups, Thunder, Hornets, Raptors, More

The Wizards now have five players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who told reporters today that Anthony Gill and Thomas Bryant are the latest players to enter the protocols (Twitter link via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington).

Bryant is coming off an ACL tear and has yet to play this season, so being in the protocols won’t affect his availability. However, Gill will no longer be an option in the short term for the Wizards after appearing in eight of the team’s last 11 games.

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

  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups has entered the COVID-19 protocols, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links), who reports that assistant Scott Brooks is expected to become Portland’s acting head coach as long as Billups is unavailable.
  • Aleksej Pokusevski and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl of the Thunder have entered the health and safety protocols, according to the team (Twitter link via Wojnarowski). Aaron Wiggins also briefly entered the protocols, but has since been listed as available, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City now has four players in the protocols.
  • The Hornets announced some good news and some bad news on Monday. While Cody Martin has exited the protocols and has been cleared to play on Monday vs. Houston, rookie Scottie Lewis is now in the protocols, according to the team (Twitter link).
  • Three Raptors players – Pascal Siakam, Khem Birch, and Gary Trent Jr. – have exited the protocols and are listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Philadelphia as they go through a reconditioning period, tweets Josh Lewenberg of Toronto still has seven players in the protocols, but may finally be trending in the right direction.
  • Celtics forward Grant Williams boarded a flight to Minnesota earlier today and expects to play tonight vs. the Wolves, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Williams has been in the health and safety protocols since December 17.
  • Although Ziaire Williams remains on the shelf due to an ankle sprain, he’s no longer listed in the protocols in the Grizzlieslatest injury report, suggesting he has been cleared.

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.

COVID/Injury Notes: Reaves, Hauser, Carter Jr., Birch, Bulls

Rookies Austin Reaves and Sam Hauser have entered the health and safety protocols for the Lakers and Celtics, respectively, according to Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group and Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter links).

If Reaves and Hauser tested positive for COVID-19, they’ll be out for the next 10 days or until they record two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Reaves has been a semi-regular member of the Lakers’ rotation, appearing in 17 games (19.7 minutes per game) with averages of 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds on .500/.390/.882 shooting. He hit a memorable game-winning three-pointer in overtime against Dallas Wednesday.

Hauser is on a two-way deal with the Celtics and has appeared in just seven total minutes across three NBA games. He’s been a regular for Boston’s G League affiliate, the Maine Celtics, averaging 16.9 points and 5 rebounds on .487/.433/.917 shooting in 10 games (33.5 MPG).

Here are some more COVID-19 and injury-related notes:

  • Magic big man Wendell Carter Jr. was injured Friday night against Miami, suffering what the team called a right lower leg injury, per a team PR announcement (via Twitter). He missed the remainder of the game and will undergo further evaluation, the team adds. Hopefully it’s not a serious injury for both player and team, as the Magic already have several injured and/or COVID-afflicted players.
  • Khem Birch could return for the Raptors on Monday, according to Josh Lewenberg of (Twitter link). Birch has been suffering from a bone bruise which still isn’t 100% healed yet, and says he’ll likely have to deal with it the throughout the season, Lewenberg relays.
  • The Bulls will be able to practice on Saturday for their first official team activity in a week, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays (Twitter links). They’ve had several players in the league’s health and safety protocols over the past couple weeks, but a few, including DeMar DeRozan, have returned recently. Two of their games were postponed this week due to the outbreak.

Lakers’ Westbrook, Cavs’ Okoro Enter COVID-19 Protocols

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). Lakers guard Avery Bradley has also been placed in the protocols, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Westbrook and Bradley are the fourth and fifth Lakers to enter the protocols within the last three days, joining teammates Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, and Malik Monk.

It’s unclear if the two Lakers guards have registered confirmed positive tests for COVID-19, but if they have, they’ll be sidelined for at least 10 days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

The news of Westbrook and Bradley entering the protocols coincides with reports that the Lakers have agreed to sign Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract using a hardship exception. Westbrook’s and Bradley’s absences should open the door for Thomas to get some run at the point guard spot.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro has entered the health and safety protocols, sources tell Kelsey Russo of The Athletic (Twitter link). No other Cavs players are currently in the protocols, so we’ll have to wait to see if Okoro is a one-off or if any of his teammates join him in the coming days. If Okoro tested positive for COVID-19, he’ll be in the protocols for at least 10 days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan told reporters, including Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, that Coby White and Javonte Green are the only two players on the team who have cleared the health and safety protocols and have been conducting individual workouts. That leaves eight players in the protocols, and many of them – including Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Alize Johnson, and Troy Brown Jr. – may not be back until after Christmas, according to Donovan.
  • Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa has cleared the health and safety protocols, tweets Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Koreen also provides a few injury updates on Raptors players — Dalano Banton (illness) is good to go, while OG Anunoby (hip) and Khem Birch (knee) will be listed as questionable for the club’s game vs. Golden State on Saturday.

Raptors’ Anunoby, Birch To Remain Sidelined For “Foreseeable Future”

Raptors forward OG Anunoby and center Khem Birch aren’t on the verge of returning to the court, according to head coach Nick Nurse, who said on Tuesday that the two veterans will remain sidelined for the “foreseeable future,” according to Josh Lewenberg of (Twitter link).

Anunoby, who is dealing with a left hip pointer, has been out of action since November 15. Right knee swelling has kept Birch on the shelf since November 21. Both players were starters when they were last healthy.

Nurse said last week that Anunoby hadn’t suffered a setback in his recovery from his hip issue, but that he had “hit a wall” in the rehab process and that the injury wasn’t healing like the team had hoped. It appears the fifth-year forward hasn’t taken any significant steps forward since then.

As for Birch, Nurse told reporters today that the 29-year-old has undergone tests that haven’t revealed any serious damage to his knee. However, the Raptors have had trouble getting the swelling under control and are trying to stop it from flaring up.

After experimenting with a small-ball lineup for several games, Toronto made Birch its starting center when Anunoby went down in mid-November. Since Birch’s injury, Precious Achiuwa has reclaimed that role, with Yuta Watanabe and Chris Boucher playing regular minutes off the bench.