Kyle Lowry

Western Notes: Lowry, Covington, Rockets

The Jazz saw Gordon Hayward walk away after the 2016/17 campaign but he wasn’t the only star the team had an eye on that offseason. Utah spoke with Kyle Lowry‘s representatives during the summer of 2017 and the organization felt confident that it could sign Lowry, sources tell Andy Larsen and Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

The front office decided to pull out of the Lowry sweepstakes because signing the point guard would have required the team to use the cap space it had planned to use for Hayward. Lowry ended up re-signing with Toronto on a three-year pact.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

Kyle Lowry Talks DeRozan, Kawhi, Raptors

When the Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs in July in a package for Kawhi Leonard, it broke up one of the NBA’s most likeable duos, leaving Kyle Lowry in Toronto while his best friend DeRozan headed to San Antonio.

Speaking to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated on Wednesday night after the Raptors beat the Kings, Lowry opened up about that trade and about his club’s offseason. While Lowry’s unwillingness to speak to reporters about the deal at a Team USA mini-camp during the summer was viewed as a sign of his possible unhappiness, the veteran point guard tells Spears that he never does any interviews in the summer, and that his silence wasn’t directly related to that trade.

Acknowledging that he was “a little emotional” when he first learned of the blockbuster deal, Lowry said that “everyone made peace with it” and is in a good place now. He also shared his thoughts on several other topics in his conversation with Spears. Here are some of the highlights:

On the eventual returns to Toronto for former head coach Dwane Casey and DeRozan:

“I’m not looking forward to seeing coach next week. It’s weird. Then seeing DeMar is going to be different. It’s going to weird. And I’m sure they are going to show a video tribute, and I might get emotional. I won’t cry. I won’t do that. We have always talked about it by saying that we’re going to reflect on our careers when we are done and sitting on our porches chilling sipping on some lemonade.”

On how he feels about the Raptors’ changes now that the dust has settled:

“Our record is good. We’re playing well. For me, it’s long-, long-term. Stay level[-headed]. You can’t worry about this and that. You got to make sure that when the time comes, April, May, June, that we are still playing. That’s when you get asked about what the team is and what this year is. Right now, we’re just 12 games in. It’s too early to tell. We got to just stay the path.”

On playing with Leonard:

“He’s a great player. He’s still getting his feet under him. I still believe he has some work to do. Like today, he was a little off a little bit. But he’s doing his job and he is going to continue to get better.”

On whether he still wanted to be in Toronto after the team traded DeRozan:

“That’s a good question. I just wanted to be where I could win and I was wanted. And it was here. They didn’t trade me. So, I guess this was the situation I was going to be in. And as a professional with the situation I am going to be in, I’m going to do my job.”

Atlantic Notes: Leonard, Smith, Williams, Brand

Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard showed flashes of brilliance in his debut with the team on Saturday, finishing with 12 points, three assists and one steal in 19 minutes of action.

“I think everybody saw Kawhi, he was shaking off some rust, right?” coach Nick Nurse asked postgame, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “But you can obviously see the level that he has and I think he looks like we’re all running around really fast and he gets it and everything goes into slow motion. It’s kind of a gift for guys that are as good as him and it’s neat to watch, too.”

Leonard was traded to the Raptors in July after a tumultuous end to his stint with the Spurs. He missed most of last season due to injury, with Saturday’s preseason game marking his first contest since January.

“I think it’s just going to take on-court minutes, getting the experience together, going out there and playing and getting a feel for the overall team, the overall game that he likes to play,” Kyle Lowry said of Leonard. “And the pace. We played at a really good pace tonight. It was a fun game, just good to get out there and compete against another team.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:


Raptors Notes: Lowry, Expectations, Leonard

Kyle Lowry saw his longtime friend DeMar DeRozan shipped to the Spurs over the summer and hadn’t said much until the team’s media day earlier this week. “Our relationship is bigger than basketball,” Lowry said of his and DeRozan’s bond.

While Lowry hasn’t said anything negative about the deal, he was dodging calls and texts from the Raptors, including Masai Ujiri and coach Nick Nurse, sources tell Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Lowry did briefly speak with Nurse after the team announced the new head coach’s hire earlier in the summer.

“I’m here to do my job,” said Lowry. “One thing about me is I’ve always been prepared to come in and try to win a championship. I’ve always been given an opportunity to go out there and do me, and come back ready to go, in shape, ready to play. My mindset never changes: Come to work for the Toronto Raptors, try to win a gold ball. That’s the same as it’s been since my first year here. That’s been my sentiment: Trying to win a gold ball here.”

Here’s more from Toronto:

  • The Raptors have a real shot at making the NBA Finals this season, Lewenberg writes in the same piece. The team hears the optimism in the media but knows there’s a lot of work to do to achieve lofty goals. “You can talk this and that – we’re a good team on paper, yeah, we have a really good team on paper,” said Jonas Valanciunas“We have all positions, we have great shooters, we’re not bad at the center position (laughs), we can do big things but how are we going to prove that? How are we going to show it on the court, how are we going to do that? That’s what matters.”
  • Kawhi Leonard has only ever played for one NBA coach—Gregg Popovich—but that will change this season now that he’s in Toronto. The 2016/17 MVP candidate appears to be optimistic about his new tactician, as Lewenberg tweets. “He’s open-minded, ready to adjust on the fly,” Leonard said of Nurse. “Just a brilliant mind, loves the game of basketball. I’ve gotta talk to him more, this was just my first practice, but we’re going to develop a good relationship.”
  • Leonard’s camp rebuffed the Raptors‘ attempts to formally introduce him following the trade, Lewenberg adds in the aforementioned piece. Toronto didn’t see it as a reflection of his desire to be with the franchise.

Raptors Notes: Leonard, Lowry, Butler, Monroe

Kawhi Leonard sidestepped questions about his falling out in San Antonio and the trade that brought him to Toronto during the Raptors’ media day this morning, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.

“I have no regrets,” Leonard responded to a question about his experience with the Spurs, “but I want to focus on this team and this journey that we have in front of us.”

Leonard was a two-time All-Star and an MVP candidate in San Antonio before suffering a quad injury that limited him to nine games last season. He was cleared by team doctors to return to action, but chose to remain sidelined on the advice of his personal physicians. The incident led to tension with the front office, clashes with teammates and derisive comments from coach Gregg Popovich.

Leonard informed the Spurs that he wouldn’t re-sign with the team once he opted out next summer, which led to his trade to Toronto. He told media members today that he’s doing fine physically.

“Right now I’m feeling great,” he said, “ready to play basketball.” (Twitter link)

There’s more from Toronto’s media day:

  • Kyle Lowry lost his best friend and backcourt partner when DeMar DeRozan was shipped to San Antonio in the Leonard trade, but he insists it won’t affect his focus for the upcoming season, saying “our relationship is bigger than basketball … that’s still my boy.” (Twitter link from Blake Murphy of The Athletic). Lowry added that he understands the business side of basketball because he has been traded before and watched the Grizzlies draft Mike Conley as his eventual replacement.
  • The Raptors have been mentioned as a possible candidate to trade for Jimmy Butler, but team president Masai Ujiri insists the team isn’t in trade talks with the Timberwolves. “I know there’s been rumors, but we haven’t had conversations,” he said. “This is our team.” (Twitter link)
  • Jonas Valanciunas is looking forward to having Greg Monroe as a teammate after playing against him for several years. The Raptors added the free agent center in August to serve as an experienced backup in the middle. “Yes, we had some battles before,” Valanciunas said. “He’s a tough guy. He never backs down, and I never back down, and now we have a chance to play together. So it’s fun.” (Twitter link)

Atlantic Rumors: DeRozan, Casey, Lowry, Fizdale, Bird

The former Raptors’ leading scorer and head coach are mad at team president Masai Ujiri, Josh Lewenberg of TSN reports. DeRozan publicly criticized Ujiri on social media after being traded to the Spurs in the Kawhi Leonard blockbuster, feeling that Ujiri misled him during a summer-league conversation. DeRozan said during USA Basketball minicamp that he’s not interested in reconciling with Ujiri. “No reason to have a relationship,” he said. “I’m done. I’m done. It’s just done for me, from my end.” Dwane Casey, now the Pistons’ head coach after getting fired by the Raptors after the season, also has lingering issues with Ujiri, according to Lewenberg. They haven’t spoken since the firing and Casey still feels plenty of resentment toward Ujiri, Lewenberg adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • DeRozan’s former backcourt partner, Kyle Lowry, doesn’t sound thrilled about the trade, according to Lewenberg. Lowry claims he has no relationship with Leonard and has yet to speak with him. Lowry was evasive when asked specifically about the trade. (Twitter links).
  • New Knicks coach David Fizdale met with star player Kristaps Porzingis in Latvia and appears to be building a strong relationship with the rehabbing power forward, Ian Begley of ESPN writes. Fizdale said he’s trying to keep Porzingis in the loop as he works his way back from knee surgery. “We’ve talked about his rehab. We’ve talked about how we want to play, our style of play,” Fizdale told Begley. “Talked a lot about the culture that we’re building. We want to make sure that he comes back strong and healthy and we don’t want to rush it. … I’ve tried to make sure that he’s – we’ve been in communication on every decision that we’ve made.”
  • The Celtics’ signing of Jabari Bird is an example of how two-way contracts should work, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Bird played for Boston on a two-way contract last season after getting drafted in the second round. The 6’6” swingman showed enough development to earn a spot on the 15-man roster, getting signed to a two-year contract this week.

Atlantic Rumors: Gaines, Nurse, Celtics, Knox

Clarence Gaines Jr. is no longer with the Knicks’ organization, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reports. Gaines was the team’s VP of player personnel under former team president Phil Jackson, who credited Gaines for lobbying to select Kristaps Porzingis in the 2015 lottery. Gaines did scouting for the current regime last season. Several newcomers have been hired by the front office and Gaines did not have strong ties to GM Scott Perry, Ian Begley of ESPN notes. Gaines’ contract expired after last season.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Challenging DeMar DeRozan to become a better defender is just one of the things new Raptors coach Nick Nurse has in mind for next season, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes. Nurse is trying to devise ways to play two smaller guards, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, together and still minimize the issues that it presents defending pick-and-rolls, Wolstat continues. Playing Serge Ibaka more often at center is another wrinkle Nurse plans to employ, Wolstat adds.
  • The Celtics are planning to hold onto their $8.641MM mid-level exception for the balance of the offseason, Keith Smith of RealGM tweets. Their priority is to re-sign restricted free agents Marcus Smart and Jabari Bird and see what develops during the season, Smith adds.
  • Strong summer-league showings by first-round pick Kevin Knox and second-rounder Mitchell Robinson have made the Knicks look wise in their selections, ESPN’s Andre Snellings writes. Knox should jump right into the Knicks’ starting lineup at small forward, while Robinson could eventually work his way into the rotation. While neither player shows superstar potential, they both have skill sets that should translate to the league, Snellings adds.
  • The Nets have positioned themselves to make a big splash next summer, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype notes. They can create enough salary-cap room to sign two first-tier free agents to go along with two first-round picks, provided that the protections on the pick the Nuggets sent them don’t kick in.
  • Knicks coach David Fizdale will head off to Latvia on July 22nd to visit with Porzingis and check on his progress from knee surgery, Marc Berman of the New York Post reports.

Eastern Notes: Raptors, Gilgeous-Alexander, Winslow

While we’ve heard a couple times already this offseason that the Raptors are open for business and won’t make anyone on their roster untouchable in trade talks, Michael Grange of notes that the team may be especially focused on shaking up the “top end of its top-heavy roster.”

That could mean that a player like DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas, or Serge Ibaka is on the move in the coming days or weeks, since those four players are on track to earn nearly $100MM in 2018/19. For what it’s worth, one source told Grange that he believes at least one of the Raptors’ big – or “medium” – three won’t be back next season, referring to Lowry, DeRozan, and Ibaka.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference as we wait for the 2018 NBA draft to get underway:

  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggests that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander isn’t interested in playing for the Cavaliers, reporting that Gilgeous-Alexander refused to work out for Cleveland and made a point to tell the team he didn’t want to be there (Twitter link). The Kentucky point guard is considered a candidate to come off the board in the top 10.
  • The Heat, who have explored the possibility of trading back into the draft, have made Justise Winslow available in their discussions, tweets Jake Fischer of Like the Raptors, the Heat have suggested no one on their roster will be off-limits this summer, so that doesn’t come as a real surprise.
  • The Pistons are making a “hard push” to hire Bucks assistant Sean Sweeney for Dwane Casey‘s new staff in Detroit, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). Stein notes that Sweeney has worked as closely with Giannis Antetokounmpo as any coach in Milwaukee.

Raptors Exploring Ways To Land Shai Gilgeous-Alexander?

The Raptors are one of two teams without a pick in the 2018 NBA draft, but they’re exploring all of their trade options as they consider getting back into the first round, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). According to Stein, Toronto’s goal would be to acquire a pick high enough to land Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Gilgeous-Alexander – a native of Hamilton, Ontario – has been a mystery man throughout the pre-draft process, as Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer notes (via Twitter). The former Kentucky Wildcat is viewed as a probable lottery pick, but reportedly hasn’t worked out for any teams and declined to name which clubs he met with at the combine in May.

While it’s possible that Gilgeous-Alexander’s camp is attempting to steer the youngster to his hometown team, that would probably be a long shot, given Toronto’s lack of 2018 draft assets. According to Josh Lewenberg of (via Twitter), team management has conveyed both privately and publicly that it doesn’t want to a significant step backwards in the short term, and the cost of a top-10 pick would be high.

Still, one league source tells Stein that no one on the Raptors’ roster is off limits in trade talks. That includes All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry — Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link) says he’s heard from several places that Lowry is “very available.”

Gilgeous-Alexander spent just one season at Kentucky, doing a little of everything for the Wildcats. He averaged 14.4 PPG, 5.1 APG, 4.1 RPG, and 1.6 SPG with a shooting line of .485/.404/.817.

While nothing may come of the Raptors’ pursuit of a lottery pick, the fact that the team is exploring the opportunity is an indication that the front office figures to take the same approach to its roster as it did to its coaching staff this offseason — Dwane Casey was dismissed after a Coach of the Year caliber season, and it appears the Raps won’t hesitate to shake up a roster that won 59 games in 2017/18.

Atlantic Notes: DeRozan, Lowry, Nets, Theis, Burroughs

DeMar DeRozan was named to the All-NBA team on Thursday, joining Vince Carter as the only Raptors players in history to make several All-NBA teams. While it’s a special honor for DeRozan, it does not mean he is a lock to return to Toronto next season, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun writes.

The Raptors began an overhaul after another early postseason exit, firing head coach Dwane Casey. Wolstat writes that Casey’s dismissal may not be the only significant move the team makes, but there is a strong chance that DeRozan remains. Sources tell Wolstat that the team will “explore all options.”

DeRozan earned All-NBA honors for good reason, as he enjoyed arguably his best season to date. He averaged 23.0 PPG, good for 11th in the NBA, to go with a career-best 5.2 APG and 3.9 RPG in 80 games. The one-two punch of  Kyle Lowry and DeRozan has led Toronto to several successful regular seasons — including the best record in the Eastern Conference this season — but after repeated early playoff exits, general manager Masai Ujiri will look everywhere to improve.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • Speaking of Lowry, the Raptors point guard missed out on several “unlikely” incentives in his contract by not making an All-NBA team, Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic details. Lowry could have maxed out his incentives at $2.17MM but will instead pocket just $200K in bonuses.
  • The Nets will have several choices to make when it comes to the roster for next season as several players are headed for either restricted or unrestricted free agency. Michael Scotto of The Athletic (subscription required) breaks down the Nets’ pending free agents and their individual likelihood of returning to Brooklyn.
  • Daniel Theis joined the Celtics roster hoping to be a valuable contributor to a potential championship winning team. Unfortunately, a torn left meniscus ended his season early and he just recently joined the Celtics as a spectator on the bench. Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe detailed Theis’ recovery and the progress he has made. Theis hopes to join the German team for the FIBA World Cup before joining the Celtics for training camp next season.  “It’s a good preparation for me, too,” Theis said. “I think I can start basketball like full contact in August. Then if I can play high level in, like, September it’s good for me, it’s good for the team to see how I’m progressing in terms of training camp in September.”
  • Eugene Burroughs won’t return to the sidelines to coach the Sixers‘ G League affiliate next season, sources tell Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days. In two seasons as a head coach, Burroughs compiled a 42–58 record.