Kyle Lowry

Eastern Rumors: Beal, Sixers, Tucker, Heat, Ujiri

Much to the chagrin of potential suitors, Wizards star Bradley Beal remains unavailable in trade discussions, with one rival executive who has been repeatedly rebuffed suggesting to Tom Haberstroh of TrueHoop that he has essentially given up the chase for the time being.

“In terms of franchise loyalty, I think Beal is in the same category as Steph (Curry) and Dame (Lillard) right now,” that exec said, referring to two other All-Star guards who have spent their entire careers with a single franchise.

In fact, Beal and Lillard have bonded over their unwillingness to leave the teams that drafted them in search of a club that could provide them an easier path to a championship, according to Jason Quick and Fred Katz of The Athletic. Beal spoke to Lillard in 2019 about the Trail Blazers star’s commitment to Portland before signing his own extension with the Wizards.

“I know how he feels because I get that all the time: ‘You should go here; you should go there …’ from all kinds of different people, and I know he gets it too,” Lillard said of Beal. “We’ve had that conversation. … He has the same feeling about it as I have: I just don’t want to go elsewhere. This is our ninth year. We’ve been so invested in this to where it’s like, this is what it is. This is where I want to get it done. And I’m sure he feels that same way.”

Haberstroh’s latest story at TrueHoop features several more items of interest and is worth checking out in full if you’re a subscriber. Here are some highlights from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Top Sixers executive Daryl Morey is widely expected to be active at the trade deadline, with several rival execs believing that Rockets forward P.J. Tucker will ultimately land in Philadelphia, says Haberstroh.
  • On the other hand, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge is considered less likely to make a big splash at the deadline. “That’s not Danny’s style,” one Eastern Conference general manager said.
  • Haberstroh suggests John Wall and Kyle Lowry could be among the Heat‘s targets if the club decides to pursue a major deadline move.
  • Haberstroh’s sources view Masai Ujiri‘s ongoing lack of contract extension with the Raptors as a “notable non-event” and wonder if his actions at the trade deadline will provide a hint of his future plans. Ujiri’s contract with Toronto expires this offseason.

Raptors Notes: COVID Absences, Depth, Lowry, Harris

After playing without several key rotation players on Wednesday night vs. Detroit due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Raptors will be missing those same players on Thursday in Boston. As Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets, the club officially announced that Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, and Patrick McCaw remain in the protocols and have been ruled out for tonight’s game.

Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, the only starters unaffected by the protocols, combined to score 57 points on 19-of-31 shooting on Wednesday, but the rest of the Raptors contributed just 48 total points on 15-of-46 shooting. Toronto will need more from its supporting cast on Thursday if the club hopes to knock off the Celtics.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • While any team would struggle without three of its starters, the Raptors’ blowout loss to the lowly Pistons on Wednesday shone a light on the team’s lack of reliable depth, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. The absences of key players provided a chance for one or two role part-timers to step up and make a case for more minutes, but no one really seized that opportunity, Grange adds.
  • There are compelling reasons both for and against trading Kyle Lowry at the deadline, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who explores the dilemma facing the Raptors and notes that the team is under pressure to get the decision right.
  • The Raptors have reassigned rookie guard Jalen Harris to the Raptors 905 at Walt Disney World after recalling him for Wednesday’s game, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Harris now should have a chance to clear the G League bubble’s quarantine protocols in time to play for Toronto’s affiliate in the NBAGL postseason tournament next week.

Raptors Notes: Scariolo, Trade Deadline, Lowry, Hall

Sergio Scariolo is prepared to serve as acting head coach of the Raptors for as long as necessary, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Scariolo got his new responsibilities Friday when Nick Nurse and five members of his staff were placed in health and safety protocols. The team responded with a victory over the Rockets.

The win capped a hectic week for Scariolo, who was in Poland last weekend with the Spanish national team for a pair of FIBA EuroBasket qualification games. He flew to Florida on Monday and entered quarantine, as required by league guidelines. Thursday afternoon marked the first rumors that Nurse and most of the coaching staff wouldn’t be available for Friday’s game.

“We are learning that we have tools and capacity to react to really weird situations, to emergency situations … like this, or I imagine a hundred more that happen all over the world to every person, to every company, every sports club, whatever,” Scariolo said. “We are learning that sometimes we love to have a great plan going from day one to the last one, (but) it’s good to know that we are able to react to different circumstances. We learned how not to panic and try to face what’s going on with a positive attitude.”

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Toronto isn’t making an effort to move Kyle Lowry, Smith states in an examination of the team’s position ahead of the March 25 trade deadline. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby should be considered untouchable, Smith adds, and the team prefers to hold on to Norman Powell. That means any trade will have to involve the bench, where the Raptors hope to upgrade without taking on a lot of long-term salary.
  • Lowry’s agent disputes a report Friday that the point guard is eyeing a move to the Sixers. Appearing on Sirius XM Radio, Mark Bartelstein said there’s no truth to the story (hat tip to Brad Botkin of CBS Sports). “There was a story today that he’s pushing to go to Philadelphia. That’s just not true,” Bartelstein said. “That story came out today, and so I had to get on the phone with (Raptors president) Masai (Ujiri) and (general manager) Bobby (Webster) and make sure they knew that certainly wasn’t coming from us.”
  • For Donta Hall, signing a 10-day deal with the Raptors just meant going from one G League team to another, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Hall has been impressive in his first two games and may eventually get a chance in Toronto because he’s a natural center.

Raptors Notes: Powell, Baynes, Lowry, Cumberland

If the Raptors are buyers at the trade deadline, the contracts of Patrick McCawAron Baynes, Stanley Johnson and Norman Powell are the ones most likely to be included in a deal for an impact player, according to The Athletic’s Eric Koreen. Powell, who holds an $11.6MM option on his contract for next season, and Kyle Lowry ($30.5MM expiring contract) are the players most likely to be traded if Toronto goes into sell mode. However, it’s likely that the team values Powell’s Bird rights to the point where it would take a very strong offer to part with the scoring wing, Koreen speculates.

We have more on the Raptors:

  • The success of smaller lineups could alter the front office’s approach to the trade market, Blake Murphy of The Athletic notes. The team has gotten positive results by using OG Anunoby as the de facto starting center and moving Baynes to the bench. That could result in expanding its options beyond an upgrade at center, rather than overpaying a potential trade partner for a big man.
  • Lowry deserves to finish out the season, if not his career, with the Raptors, Scott Stinson of The National Post opines. He’s been the only constant in the team’s sustained period of success and his days with the franchise shouldn’t end in pursuit of assets.
  • The club’s G League team, Raptors 905, has traded center Dewan Hernandez to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers for guard Jarron Cumberland, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Raptors 905 is also receiving Stockton’s original second-round pick in the 2021/22 G League Draft via Canton. Hernandez, 24, played six games with Toronto last season. The undrafted Cumberland played four college seasons with Cincinnati.
  • In case you missed it, the Raptors have signed big man Donta Hall to a 10-day contract.

Sixers, Heat, Clippers Considered Potential Suitors For Lowry

The Raptors have told point guard Kyle Lowry they’d be open to the possibility of trading him to a preferred destination as long as they can get something of value in return, sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

According to one of Pompey’s sources, the Raptors want to reward Lowry for his long, decorated tenure with the franchise by giving him an opportunity to win another NBA championship. The Raptors, who have lost several key pieces from their 2019 title team and are just 16-17 so far this season, may not be in position to give him that opportunity themselves.

[RELATED: Longest-Tenured Players By NBA Team]

Pompey reports that the Sixers, Heat, and Clippers would be among the possible suitors for Lowry if the Raptors make him available. One source tells The Inquirer that Lowry would have interest in playing in his hometown of Philadelphia; that source believes the 76ers and Raptors may be able to get something done.

Lowry is earning $30.5MM this season, so a team that wants to acquire him would have to send out at least $24.32MM in matching salary. Presumably, if the Sixers made a play for the veteran guard, they’d want to keep their veteran core of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Tobias Harris intact, meaning a package may have to start with Danny Green‘s and Mike Scott‘s expiring contracts for matching purposes.

The Heat have a few expiring contracts that could be used for matching. The Raptors would have to be willing to take on some multiyear money in order to make a deal with the Clippers.

Toronto would likely ask for some combination of draft assets and/or young players in exchange for Lowry, a six-time All-Star who continues to make a two-way impact on the court. Pompey suggests that any team acquiring the 34-year-old would probably have to be comfortable with re-signing him when his contract expires this offseason. Sources tell Pompey that Lowry wants to play at least two more seasons and may seek a salary similar to his current $30MM rate this summer.

Despite their sub-.500 record, the Raptors are currently the No. 5 seed in the East. If they hold steady or climb into the top four, they likely won’t be eager to be sellers at the trade deadline. However, they’ve played well even without Lowry in the lineup and could remain competitive if they acquire one or two players who are ready to contribute immediately. Based on Pompey’s report, it sounds like Toronto is open to working with the longtime face of the franchise if he prefers to join a team closer to title contention.

And-Ones: I. Thomas, Hezonja, P. Gasol, All-Star Bonuses

Team USA won two games in convincing fashion over the weekend, defeating the Bahamas and Mexico in the FIBA AmeriCup qualifying tournament, according to an Associated Press story. The team, which advances to the September 2022 tourney, featured familiar names such as Joe Johnson, Brandon Bass and Isaiah Thomas, who was hoping to use the event to boost his chances for an NBA comeback.

Thomas, who hasn’t played competitively since being traded to the Clippers and waived last February, scored 19 points in Friday’s game and nine on Saturday.

“The world knows I’ve got what it takes. So, it’s just about showing that I’m healthy,” he said. “My skill didn’t go anywhere, it was just about getting a hundred percent healthy, which I am right now.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Mario Hezonja, who was in training camp with the Grizzlies, has reached a deal to play for Panathinaikos in Greece, writes Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The new contract will cover the rest of the season with an option for next year. The fifth overall pick in the 2015 draft, Hezonja played for the Magic, Knicks and Trail Blazers in five NBA seasons. He averaged 4.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 53 games with Portland last year.
  • Veteran center Pau Gasol denied rumors over the weekend that he’s close to signing with Barcelona, but Spanish national team coach Sergio Scariolo hasn’t given up hopes of seeing him play again, relays Alessandro Maggi of Sportando. “It’s a rumor, obviously we hope to see Pau on a basketball court again,” said Scariolo, an assistant coach for the Raptors. “Our desire is to see him still play at the top level and we will keep our fingers crossed.”
  • With the All-Star reserves set to be announced Tuesday, ESPN’s Bobby Marks takes a look at the five players whose contracts include bonuses for making the team. The largest, at $1.3MM, belongs to Jaylen Brown of the Celtics, who Marks believes is virtually certain to be selected. Jazz center Rudy Gobert, with a $1MM bonus, also seems like a sure thing. The PacersDomantas Sabonis ($1MM bonus) and the KnicksJulius Randle ($945K) face more difficulty because of the competition in the Eastern frontcourt. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, who has been to six straight All-Star Games, would earn a $500K bonus for making it again, but he appears to have little chance of being chosen.

O’Connor’s Latest: Tucker, Lowry, Beal, Vucevic

The Bucks were pursuing Rockets forward P.J. Tucker in November and their interest hasn’t faded, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Tucker could help solidify a defense that has taken a step backward with the offseason losses of Wesley Matthews, Eric Bledsoe and George Hill, as well as the absence of Jrue Holiday, who has been in the NBA’s health and safety protocols since February 8. O’Connor notes that Donte DiVincenzo, Bryn Forbes and D.J. Augustin haven’t supplied the same presence on defense.

Tucker is considered to be available because of his age — he turns 36 in May — and his contract status. He will be a free agent this summer, and the Rockets’ attempts to sign him to an extension have been unsuccessful. Houston’s seven-game losing streak has the organization focused on building for the future.

However, the Rockets reportedly want a player in return, rather than more draft picks, which may be problem for Milwaukee. The Bucks gave most of their valuable assets to New Orleans in the deal for Holiday and may not have expendable young players who would be of interest to Houston. DiVincenzo is viewed around the league as their most valuable remaining trade chip, O’Connor notes.

O’Connor sheds light on a few more potential deals:

  • The Sixers, who hold the best record in the East, are hoping to make “major moves” before the March 25 trade deadline to improve their chances of winning a title. A name to watch, according to O’Connor, is Raptors guard Kyle Lowry, a Philadelphia native with an expiring contract. O’Connor states that the Sixers need a veteran guard who can create shots on the perimeter, and Lowry is likely the best option who could be considered available.
  • O’Connor confirms that the Wizards won’t make Bradley Beal available before the deadline, although the Celtics would be among the most interested teams if he were. Beal and Jayson Tatum have been friends since childhood, and the NBA’s leading scorer would give Boston a scary Big Three by teaming with Tatum and Jaylen Brown. However, O’Connor expects Beal and the Wizards to work out their future during the offseason.
  • Celtics fans may be wishing for Nikola Vucevic to solidify the team at center, but the Magic have shown no interest in trading him, executives around the league tell O’Connor. He remains the focus of the offense in Orlando and a favorite of the coaching staff.
  • O’Connor suggests Harrison Barnes could be a possibility for Boston if the Kings decide to part with him, or possibly Rockets guard Victor Oladipo if Boston is willing to give up assets despite reports that he wants to be in Miami. O’Connor believes Bulls forward Thaddeus Young is a more realistic target. The Celtics could absorb his $13.545MM salary with a portion of their traded player exception, and he would cost less in terms of assets than some of their other targets.

Atlantic Notes: McCaw, Lowry, Nets, Celtics, Knicks

Raptors guard Patrick McCaw hasn’t suited up at all for the team this season as he recovers from knee surgery, but his returns appears imminent. As Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets, McCaw is listed on the latest injury report as probable for Friday’s game vs. Minnesota.

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, meanwhile, is dealing with a thumb injury and is listed as questionable for Friday’s contest, per Lewenberg. Head coach Nick Nurse previously indicated that he expects Lowry to miss at least one more game.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Raptors Notes: Watanabe, Lowry, Drummond, G League

Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe has been able to eke out a consistent rotational role with Toronto this season, as Doug Smith of The Toronto Star details. Watanabe, who went undrafted in 2018 out of George Washington University, spent two seasons on a two-way deal with the Grizzlies before joining the Raptors at the start of the 2020/21 season. Watanabe is averaging 12.2 MPG with the club, converting 42.9% of his 1.6 three-point attempts.

All-Star teammate Kyle Lowry hailed the 6’9″ wing’s contributions: “He’s going to dive for loose balls, and he’s going to be at the right spot, and he’s going to give you everything (he’s) got. He just plays with an extreme hardness.”

Smith notes that Watanabe, currently on a two-way contract with Toronto, is likely to see his deal converted to a full NBA contract within the next month.

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report wonders if Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry‘s charmed tenure with Toronto may be wrapping up soon. “There’s a time capsule for everybody and everything,” one Western Conference executive said, “and it’s probably just time to move on.” Lowry signed a one-year, $30.5MM extension with Toronto that will make him an unrestricted free agent at the end of the current 2020/21 season. Though he has been his reliably excellent self, the team has stumbled out of the gate to a 10-13 record and the No. 9 seed in the East. Fischer points to several teams who could benefit from the still-productive lead guard’s services this season, including the Heat, Clippers, Pelicans and Magic.
  • After the Raptors’ title-winning frontcourt tandem of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol fled for championship-caliber rosters in sunny Los Angeles during the offseason, the club could still be mulling ways to fortify its center position. Sources tell The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor that the Raptors are among the teams interested in adding Cavaliers center Andre Drummond, currently earning $28.8MM this season on an expiring deal.
  • The Raptors are sending rookies Malachi Flynn and Jalen Harris to the NBAGL’s Orlando “bubble” campus to get some extended development this season. Doug Smith of The Toronto Star previews their upcoming adventure with Toronto’s G League affiliate, Raptors 905.

Windhorst’s Latest: Tucker, House, Shumpert, Oubre, Ball, Butler, Lowry

The Rockets are seeking a first-round pick or three second-rounders for P.J. Tucker, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his latest Hoop Collective podcast. Houston was unable to reach an extension agreement with Tucker prior to the season and he has been the subject of trade rumors. He’s making a reasonable $8MM this season and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

The Rockets’ desire to accumulate multiple second-rounders for Tucker has previously been reported but Windhorst indicates they’d want a first-rounder as an alternative. Houston already has a stockpile of first-rounders from the James Harden blockbuster.

Windhorst also divulged a number of other tidbits during his podcast:

  • Speaking of the Rockets, forward Danuel House has attracted some trade interest around the league. House is signed through next season but he has a team-friendly contract — $3.72MM this season and $3.89MM next season.
  • Iman Shumpert’s new contract with the Nets is non-guaranteed. Brooklyn filled a roster spot by signing the veteran guard over the weekend.
  • There are rumors circulating about a potential WarriorsPelicans trade involving Kelly Oubre and Lonzo Ball. The Bulls, who continue to look for a long-term solution at point guard, might also be interested in Ball, who will have a qualifying offer in excess of $14MM this offseason.
  • Heat star wing Jimmy Butler lost more than 10 pounds during his recent bout with COVID-19, something that Ethan J. Skolnick also noted last week on the Five on the Floor podcast (hat tip to Radio.com).
  • The Raptors could be in the market for a player who could jolt their offense. If Toronto doesn’t turn things around, the team might consider offers for Kyle Lowry, who could become an “interesting” rental for a contender. Lowry is headed to unrestricted free agency but his $30.5MM contract would complicate the process of moving him.