Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry Believed To Have Avoided Major Injury

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry limped off the floor against the Knicks tonight with a right ankle injury, but Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com (Twitter link) reports that the injury is not believed to be serious. Lowry will undergo tests on the ankle tonight.

Toronto holds the second-best record in the Eastern Conference despite seeing several players shuffle in and out of the lineup all season. Kawhi Leonard has missed 20 games so far, Lowry has missed 15 games, and the pair have only played together 37 times this season, per NBA.com.

Fred VanVleet has started 22 games and he will step into that role should Lowry miss additional time. The Raptors’ next game is against the Thunder on Wednesday.

Raptors Notes: Roster, Gasol, Leonard, Lowry

The Raptors have agreements to add a pair of players on 10-day contracts, but they might not join the team right away. A franchise has to have 12 players with standard contracts before it can issue 10-day deals, tweets Keith Smith of Real GM, and Toronto is down to 10 after after the trade deadline.

Malcolm Miller and Ben McLemore have both committed to joining the Raptors on 10-day contracts as soon as the situation is resolved. A 25-year-old forward, Miller was a two-way player in Toronto last season and appeared in 15 games. He suffered a dislocated shoulder during Summer League and has been doing rehab work with the Raptors’ G League affiliate. McLemore, the seventh pick in the 2014 draft, was waived by the Kings this week.

GM Bobby Webster tells Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports that the team plans to be aggressive on the buyout market. It will comply with league rules about roster size, but several moves may not come until after the All-Star break. (Twitter link). The Raptors have compiled a ranking of buyout prospects and have talked with several of their agents to express interest (Twitter link).

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Newly acquired center Marc Gasol doesn’t mind that the Raptors plan to experiment with him to determine his best role, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. The former Grizzlies star came off the bench Saturday in his Raptors debut, posting seven points and six rebounds in a win over the Knicks. Coach Nick Nurse plans to use Gasol’s passing skills to expand the offense and will make him “captain” of the defense. “I’m not going to rush anything,” Gasol said. “As a player you just want to help a team accomplish their goals. That’s what this is about.”
  • Knicks fans have interest in Kawhi Leonard‘s future now that their team has room to offer two max contracts, but the Raptors forward didn’t want to discuss the topic after Saturday’s game in New York, relays Steve Popper of Newsday. “I’m not talking about that right now,” he told reporters. “We’re going to get there. I’m focused on this season. We can talk about the game.”
  • Team president Masai Ujiri doesn’t expect Kyle Lowry to be rattled about hearing his name in trade rumors, according to Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun. There were whispers that Lowry might be headed out of Toronto if the team could acquire Mike Conley from the Grizzlies. “I had a very good conversation with Kyle, and rumors are rumors, to be honest,” Ujiri said. “I see no issues, honestly, with him. Zero. We’re good, and I think his mind is focused on this run.”

Atlantic Notes: Gasol, Lowry, Sixers, Celtics, Russell

The Raptors struck a major deal to acquire star center Marc Gasol today, sending Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round pick to Memphis in the agreement.

Gasol, a former Defensive Player of the Year, is expected to help push the Raptors to a deep postseason run as their new starting center.

“Marc’s a hell of a basketball player,” teammate Kyle Lowry said, as relayed by Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. “I got a chance to play with him earlier in our careers but neither of us were at the level we’re at now. It’s going to be very cool.”

Gasol also reunites with Sergio Scariolo, head coach of the Spanish National Team and current assistant with the Raptors. Gasol’s ability to score, rebound and defend at the center position intrigued the Raptors as a potential fit, with the team now sporting a projected starting five of him, Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam.

“There’s a lot of things Marc can do,” Lowry said, according to Lewenberg“I think his playmaking is one of the things we’re going to really be able to use…I think his defence is going to help us also…There’s a lot of advantages he brings to us and I think he’s going to really help us.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • The Sixers made a move to acquire Tobias Harris from the Clippers this week, although it’s unclear how long discussions between the two sides lasted before an agreement was reached. Rich Hofmann of The Athletic suggests that the teams have discussed a Harris-related deal for months, while Jake Fischer of Sports Illustrated reports that the deal started being discussed on Tuesday. Regardless, Philadelphia now has a “core four” of Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid to compete in the Eastern Conference for the rest of the season.
  • Celtics general manager Danny Ainge reached out to the representatives of a few players today with hopes of filling the team’s open roster spot, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). However, Ainge is unsure about how much interest players will have, given how deep Boston’s roster is, Mannix notes.
  • Nets guard D’Angelo Russell is ready to recruit players to Brooklyn in free agency, speaking before the NBA’s trade deadline this week. “I mean we understand it’s a business,” Russell said, according to Chris Milholen of Nets Daily. “I got to be in Brooklyn to recruit someone to be in Brooklyn. I think that with the situation that we have with the young talent and like I said, we surprised a lot of people this year with the play that we have and I think we have a great situation for anybody to come in and be open with two arms.”

LeBron, Giannis Draft 2019 All-Star Teams

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo drafted their teams for the 2019 All-Star Game on Thursday, officially finalizing the rosters for this year’s contest. James and Antetokounmpo were chosen as captains because they were the All-Star starter from each conference with the most fan votes.

Both James and Antetokounmpo first had to select from a pool of starters, then from a list of reserve players. The starters, which consisted of eight other players, were voted on by the fans, players and media this season. The reserve players were voted on by the NBA’s 30 head coaches.

James drafted Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden as starters, choosing Durant as his first selection. His reserves were Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal and Dwyane Wade.

Antetokounmpo drafted Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George and Kemba Walker as his starters, selecting Curry with his first pick. He drafted Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry and Dirk Nowitzki as his reserves.

James later traded Westbrook to Team Giannis in exchange for Simmons, making an effort to repair the relationship of Westbrook and Embiid.

The 68th NBA All-Star Game is set to commence on February 17 at Spectrum Center, featuring 26 of the best basketball players in the world.

Eastern Trade Rumors: Cavs, A. Holiday, Kaminsky, Raps

It has been a busy season on the trade market for the Cavaliers, who entered sell mode early and have moved Kyle Korver, George Hill, and Alec Burks in separate deals over the course of the 2018/19 campaign.

Even after all that action, the Cavaliers may not be done dealing, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who reports that Cleveland’s front office is still exploring the market in search of a possible home for J.R. Smith. Although the Cavs plan to continue their efforts to move Smith right up until today’s deadline, making a deal is “easier said than done,” a source tells Fedor.

Despite the fact that Smith is on a pseudo-expiring contract, with only $3.87MM of his $15.68MM salary for 2019/20 guaranteed, his $14.72MM cap hit for this season – and the fact that he hasn’t played in an NBA game since mid-November – will be a tough sell. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Smith ultimately ends up on the buyout market after the deadline.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • We’ve heard that the Pacers might be willing to move Cory Joseph and Darren Collison, but it’s their other point guard – rookie Aaron Holiday – who has been a popular target for teams making inquiries, writes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Although Indiana initially took those calls, the club has now pulled Holiday off the table and has no plans to deal him this week, a source tells Michael.
  • While the Hornets remain in the mix for Marc Gasol, they’re also still on the lookout for a potential landing spot for Frank Kaminsky, independent of a Gasol deal, tweets Sporting News’ Sean Deveney. Kaminsky, who has played just 41 minutes in Charlotte’s last 23 games, would presumably welcome a change of scenery.
  • Despite some rumors this week involving the Raptors, Mike Conley, and Kyle Lowry, there’s currently no traction on a Toronto deal that would include those players, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.
  • The Magic and the Bulls are among the clubs that have expressed some level of interest in Clippers point guard Milos Teodosic, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando, who hears that a Teodosic trade is still possible. As we heard earlier in the season, the former EuroLeague star also continues to draw plenty of interest from international teams, Cauchi notes.

Mike Conley Resisting Trade To Utah?

6:05pm: The Raptors aren’t trying to trade for Conley, while the Pistons are pessimistic that a deal will get done before the deadline, Stein tweets.

5:02pm: The Jazz are closer to working out a trade for Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, but Conley and his representatives prefer to see him sent somewhere else, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (Twitter link).

“Utah was making some progress in acquiring him, and I think that would have been a tremendous deal for Utah,” Windhorst said on ESPN’s “The Jump.” (video link via @The_6ix_man)Mike Conley‘s agent has made it known that Mike Conley does not want to play in Utah. … If he’s going to be traded, he’d prefer to go the the Eastern Conference. Now Memphis is working on deals with Detroit and Toronto.”

A trade with the Raptors would mean Kyle Lowry may wind up with the Jazz, Windhorst adds. Utah has been interested in Lowry for a long time and Lowry has “a ton of respect” for Jazz coach Quin Snyder, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The report on Conley is backed up by Marc Stein of The New York Times, who tweets that he is resisting a trade to the Jazz. Conley has no ability to block a deal —  he is under contract for more than $67MM over the next two seasons — but he’s making it clear that Utah isn’t his first choice.

The Pacers continue to talk to the Grizzlies about Conley, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link). However, Indiana and Toronto believe Memphis’ asking price is “prohibitively high.” Jones states that he heard the Pacers offered a young player and a veteran and were met with a counteroffer that they didn’t consider realistic.

A source tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that the Grizzlies are asking the Pistons to include shooting guard Luke Kennard and a first-round pick in any package. Ellis speculates that Reggie Jackson would also be part of the deal, but notes that picking up Conley would limit Detroit’s financial flexibility going forward.

Trade Rumors: Randle, Mirotic, Raptors, Celtics

The Pelicans remain on the lookout for potential trades involving players besides Anthony Davis, but Will Guillory of The Athletic suggests (via Twitter) that Julius Randle seems unlikely to be moved this week. According to Guillory, Randle has developed a strong bond with the coaching staff in New Orleans and the club has interest in keeping him around long-term.

Another frontcourt Pelicans player, Nikola Mirotic, remains a trade candidate, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who names the Jazz, Trail Blazers, Nets, and Spurs as clubs that have expressed interest in Mirotic. League sources tell O’Connor that New Orleans is seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Mirotic, with one source calling the club’s asking price “excessive.”

Of course, the Pelicans gave up a first-rounder for Mirotic a year ago, but at that time they got a year and a half of team control rather than just a a half-season, and also shed Omer Asik‘s unwanted contract in the deal.

Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • Although the Raptors have been linked to big names like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, sources tell Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca that a move around the periphery of the roster is far more likely than a major deal. Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca confirms that a move involving Kyle Lowry is “highly unlikely,” but says the Raptors have been aggressive on the trade market and would move anyone on their roster if they feel like it makes them a better team. On the other hand, Toronto has no intention of moving Pascal Siakam unless the club gets a superstar-level return, Lewenberg notes.
  • Before Thursday’s trade deadline, the Celtics may try to attach cash to Jabari Bird in a trade to lower their projected tax bill, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. However, Bird’s legal issues complicate matters. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) has heard that Boston wants the NBA to expedite a decision on Bird, but the league is in no rush to set a precedent under the CBA’s domestic violence policy.
  • While Nuggets guard Gary Harris has been cited as a potential trade candidate, Matt Moore of ActionNetwork.com hears from a source that Denver hasn’t engaged in any “substantive” trade talks involving Harris and doesn’t currently plan to (Twitter link). While it’s possible that stance could change, Moore thinks the Nuggets would only consider moving Harris in a deal that lands the club a clear upgrade.

Raptors Made Offer For Mike Conley, Marc Gasol?

3:44pm: The Grizzlies would be looking for more than Lowry and Valanciunas in return for Conley and Gasol, according to Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News, who hears that Memphis asked for Pascal Siakam (Twitter link). The Raptors aren’t trading Siakam, but would be willing to include Delon Wright and a future first-round pick, says Lawrence.

Toronto’s 2019 first-round pick is committed to San Antonio, so the 2021 first-rounder would be the next one available.

2:18pm: While the Grizzlies have reportedly been primarily engaged in talks with the Jazz and Pistons for Mike Conley, another potential suitor has entered the mix, according to Jake Fischer of SI.com. League sources tell Fischer that the Raptors have contacted Memphis and offered Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas in a deal for both Conley and Marc Gasol.

It’s a fascinating offer from Toronto’s perspective, as the second-best team in the East appears willing to give up an All-Star guard and an important rotation piece in a proposal that would reshape its roster. Lowry has been made aware of the Raptors’ trade talks involving him, per Fischer.

On the other hand though, it’s hard to see why the Grizzlies would jump at Toronto’s offer, unless the franchise isn’t totally committed to rebuilding. Lowry has a cap number similar to Conley’s, albeit with a contract that expires a year earlier. Valanciunas has a $17.62MM player option for next season.

By comparison, Utah’s offer for Conley reportedly includes a sizable expiring contract (Ricky Rubio‘s) and a first-round pick. It could also feature a prospect like Dante Exum or Grayson Allen, according to Fischer. Detroit’s offer for Conley is said to include Reggie Jackson and a first-rounder. The Grizzlies are believed to be seriously considering both teams’ offers, per Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Fischer, the Grizzlies turned down the Raptors’ initial offer and would prefer to receive younger players – such as OG Anunoby – and/or draft assets from Toronto.

Meanwhile, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca provides a different perspective, tweeting that he’s heard the talks between the Grizzlies and Raptors were initiated by Memphis and didn’t progress very far.

While Grange’s and Fischer’s accounts on which team initiated the talks seem contradictory, it’s possible both are accurate — perhaps Memphis made the first call and the Raptors, in turn, returned the Grizzlies’ call to let them know what they’d be willing to offer. If the Grizzlies didn’t like what they heard, discussions may not have advanced from there.

Raptors Rumors: Leonard, Lowry, George

Despite playing only half their games so far this season with both of their All-Stars – Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry – in the lineup, the Raptors have one of the NBA’s best records. Their 30-12 mark puts them a half-game ahead of the 28-11 Bucks, though they technically trail Milwaukee by percentage points.

With Lowry now back in the lineup after battling back and hip issues and Leonard potentially ready to start playing in back-to-backs soon, the Raptors are well positioned for a big second half. And the team’s performance the rest of the way – and in the postseason – could go a long way toward determining whether Leonard remains in Toronto beyond this season, a subject Chris Mannix explores in his latest piece for SI.com.

Mannix’s article features several interesting notes and tidbits on Kawhi and the Raptors, so we’ll round up a few highlights here:

  • According to Mannix, the Raptors are prepared to offer Leonard a five-year, maximum-salary offer – or any other deal he’s interested in – this offseason, and don’t view that sort of an investment as a risk.
  • While Leonard’s upcoming free agency is rarely discussed in the Raptors’ locker room, everyone knows how important his decision will be in determining the future of the franchise, per Mannix. “We need him to stay,” Serge Ibaka said. “He keeps everybody safe — no one is safe if he leaves.”
  • Even before the Raptors acquired Leonard, president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri had been itching to shake up his roster, according to Mannix, who reports that Ujiri approached the Thunder last season about a possible swap centered around DeMar DeRozan and Paul George.
  • Speaking of George, Mannix writes that Raptors officials have privately acknowledged that the Thunder’s success in retaining George emboldened them to roll the dice on Leonard. Of course, George’s bond with Russell Westbrook contributed in large part to PG13’s decision to remain in Oklahoma City. It remains to be seen if Kyle Lowry can be that same sort of recruiter, given his “frosty” relationship with Ujiri, who traded away his best friend DeRozan.
  • When the NBA issued a memo last month reminding teams of its anti-tampering rules, it was viewed by most as a response to LeBron James‘ comments about Anthony Davis. However, several clubs, including Toronto, interpreted the memo’s reference to “intentional” and “repeated” social courtesies as a message to the Clippers, says Mannix. The Clips have reportedly been sending officials, including president of basketball ops Lawrence Frank, to a number of Raptors games this season as they eye Leonard as a 2019 free agent target.

Raptors Offer Updates On Lowry, Valanciunas

It appears optimism about Kyle Lowry‘s return from quad and back issues was premature. The Raptors announced today in an email that their All-Star point guard had pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory injections for his lower-back soreness on Friday, and the team isn’t sure when he might return to action.

Lowry has taken the court just once in Toronto’s past eight games as the Raptors have slipped out of first place in the East. On Sunday, coach Nick Nurse told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps he expected Lowry back soon, but it appears the wait will be longer than expected.

“Any of our guys, we want them back as soon as possible,” Nurse said. “… I think we’re positive and hopeful that it’s going in the right direction, and we’ll see him back soon.”

Lowry’s injury is a two-part problem, Bontemps explains. At first, he was sidelined for a quad issue, then he missed the last three games with back soreness. He is averaging 14.4 points and a career-best 9.8 assists per night.

The Raptors also updated the condition of center Jonas Valanciunas, who had surgery after dislocating his left thumb on December 12. He had sutures removed from his hand three days ago and has started the rehab process, although no date has been set for him to return.