Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry Undergoes Procedure On Injured Thumb

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry has undergone a procedure to repair a tendon injury in his left thumb, a league source tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, the recovery process isn’t expected to be particularly lengthy — Lowry is hoping to be ready to participate in Team USA’s training camp next month and the 2019 FIBA World Cup in September.

[RELATED: Team USA Announces 20-Man Camp Roster For World Cup]

As Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca notes (via Twitter), Lowry dealt with the thumb issue for most of the postseason and had a hard time gripping the ball with his left hand. The 33-year-old was always expected to address the injury – which was reported during the NBA Finals as a ligament tear – during the offseason.

Despite battling the thumb injury, Lowry helped lead the Raptors to their first-ever championship, averaging 15.0 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 4.9 RPG with a .439/.359/.802 shooting line in 24 playoff contests. He’ll enter a contract year in 2019/20 before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.

Raptors Rumors: Kawhi, Lowry, Gasol, Ibaka, Green

The Raptors were confident entering free agency about their chances to re-sign NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, but that confidence began to waver after they met with Leonard and his uncle Dennis Robertson in Toronto last Wednesday, sources tell Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

According to Lewenberg, Leonard and his camp asked for a lot from the Raptors during that meeting — “things players don’t generally ask for in standard contract negotiations,” writes Lewenberg. One of Lewenberg’s sources describes those requests as “unreasonable,” suggesting that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri wouldn’t have been able to meet them all even if he’d wanted to.

The requests caused the Raptors to question whether Leonard was seriously considering them at all, according to Lewenberg. A belief that Kawhi was eyeing the Clippers all along prompted the Raptors to not get too invested in potential trade discussions with the Thunder. Lewenberg suggests that those preliminary talks included Paul George, but not Russell Westbrook, and didn’t even reach the team’s highest-ranking executives.

Within his own look at the Leonard situation, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca conveys many of the same sentiments that Lewenberg did. According to Grange, as Leonard’s requests became more difficult to meet and communication became less constant, it became more clear that the Raptors weren’t his top priority, as one person close to the talks described it.

Grange adds that the Raptors’ contact with the Thunder in the hours leading up to Leonard’s announcement “may have been somewhat exaggerated.” Toronto tapped out fairly early once it was evident OKC was using talks with the Raptors as leverage.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • One Clippers official who spoke to Grange was relieved that his team was still able to land Kawhi after the success he enjoyed in Toronto in 2018/19: “The Raptors did everything right. We saw the parade, saw those pictures and figured that was it. We were done.”
  • Speaking to reporters, including Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun, Ujiri suggested on Tuesday that he’s not exactly reeling from losing Leonard: “I think we got a great deal out of this. We won a championship, so we’re happy. And, honestly, it’s on to the next. This is the NBA and this is how it works. You can’t hide under the table and cry. Honestly, I’ve lost no sleep, I’m not disappointed. It’s on to what’s next. I’m telling Raptors fans and everybody, don’t lose one day of sleep, one second of sleep. We’re going to be just fine. We’re going to be alright.”
  • Don’t expect the next steps for the Raptors to involve an immediate tear-down. Sources tell Lewenberg that the team has no intention of moving veterans on expiring contracts – such as Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka – before the season. Of course, it’s possible that stance could change by the trade deadline if the Raps don’t have a great first half.
  • While there was a belief that Danny Green would lean toward re-signing with the Raptors and trying to defend their title if Leonard returned, that may not have been the case after all. According to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (via Twitter), Green told the Mavericks that he wouldn’t be returning to Toronto, and his choice came down to the Lakers vs. the Mavs.

Kawhi Leonard Fallout: Clippers, Lakers, Raptors

After reaching deals late on Friday night to add Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to their roster, the Clippers are the new favorites to win the 2019 NBA title, according to the oddsmakers at BetOnline.ag. Unlike in recent years – when Golden State was the overwhelming frontrunner – the Clippers are only currently a slight favorite over the Lakers and Bucks, but it’s still a remarkable turnaround for a team that looked 24 hours ago as if it might strike out entirely in free agency.

The acquisitions of Leonard and George show how far the Clippers have come this decade, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who says the organization has “arrived” as a premier destination for star players.

Meanwhile, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets that Leonard and his camp found it “comical” that every report this week claiming to have identified Kawhi’s likely destination mentioned the Raptors or Lakers, but never the Clippers. While it’s not clear if the Clippers were always his No. 1 choice, Leonard reportedly worked hard this week to try to get George to join him in Los Angeles, as we detail in our round-up of PG13-related items.

Here are several more Kawh-related notes related to the two suitors that missed out on Leonard:

Lakers:

  • As of about two hours before Leonard chose the Clippers on Friday night, his camp was asking the Lakers to delay the Anthony Davis trade until late Saturday or Sunday, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, who tweets that no specific reason was given.
  • If Leonard had signed with the Lakers, he would have had to do so before the Davis trade was formally completed in order to maximize his earnings, since the AD deal would’ve cut into the Lakers’ cap room. So it’s possible he was leaving a Plan B available if the Clippers were unable to acquire George — for what it’s worth, the Clippers reportedly believed Kawhi would join the Lakers if they didn’t trade for PG13.
  • It didn’t help the Lakers’ cause that a ton of specific details about Magic Johnson‘s meeting with Leonard leaked to the media, tweets Cris Carter of Fox Sports 1. I doubt that was a deciding factor for Leonard and his camp, but Carter is plugged-in with Kawhi’s group, so if he’s hearing it, it seems likely to be coming from them.
  • Losing the waiting game for Leonard was a worst-case scenario for the Lakers, who missed out on a handful of potential targets during the first week of free agency as they pursued Kawhi, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic. The team has since pivoted by reaching deals with Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, JaVale McGee, and Quinn Cook.

Raptors:

  • Leonard told his Raptors teammates via text message that he was leaving just as the news was breaking late on Friday night, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link).
  • Losing Leonard – and starting shooting guard Danny Green – sets the Raptors on a new path, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic, who explores what’s next for the franchise. While there will be calls to blow things up, Murphy suggests that the current Raptors should still be a playoff team, adding that Toronto may be reluctant to take on unwanted multiyear contracts in any trades, given how much money will come off its cap in 2020.
  • Chris Mannix of SI.com (Twitter link) speculates that the Raptors will explore potential trades of their veterans on expiring contracts – such as Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka – as they look ahead to building around young players like Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic acknowledges that Masai Ujiri will likely gauge the value of his veterans on the trade market, but agrees with Murphy that the Raptors are more likely to keep their roster more or less intact in a transition year.

Team USA Announces 20-Player Camp Roster For World Cup

USA Basketball has officially announced the group of 20 players that will participate in training camp this summer in advance of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The camp will take place from August 5-9, and will be used to select the 12-man roster for this year’s World Cup in China.

The 20-man training camp roster is as follows:

  1. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  2. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  3. Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
  4. Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  5. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  6. James Harden (Rockets)
  7. Tobias Harris (Sixers / FA)
  8. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  9. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  10. Brook Lopez (Bucks / FA)
  11. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  12. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  13. CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers)
  14. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  15. Paul Millsap (Nuggets)
  16. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  17. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  18. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  19. P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
  20. Kemba Walker (Hornets / FA)

“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.

“I’m appreciative of commitment that our National Team players continue to make, and the eagerness of the new players to become involved,” Popovich continued. “Selecting a 12-man team will be extremely difficult.”

It will be an eventful summer for many of the players on the 20-man Team USA training camp roster. Besides Harris, Lopez, and Walker, who are all headed for unrestricted free agency and could be on new teams by August, players like Barnes, Middleton, and Millsap could reach the open market if their player or team options are declined. Others – including Davis, Gordon, Kuzma, Tatum, and Tucker – have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Kuzma and Mitchell are the only players on the roster who haven’t played internationally for Team USA in the past. Five player on the roster (Barnes, Davis, Harden, Love, and Lowry) have won gold medals for USA Basketball at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, while two others (Drummond and Gordon) have taken home gold at previous World Cups.

Previous reports indicated that Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley are expected to be among the players named to a 10-man select team that will scrimmage with Team USA’s 20-man roster at the training camp in August.

Mark Stevens Receives One-Year Ban, $500K Fine

The NBA and the Warriors have released an official statement announcing that Warriors’ minority owner Mark Stevens has been banned from attending any NBA games and from participating in and/or attending any Warriors’ team activities for one calendar year. He was also fined $500K.

The punishment is in response to Stevens’ actions in last night’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals, wherein he pushed and directed obscenities toward Raptors’ point guard Kyle Lowry after Lowry dived into the stands to chase a loose ball near where Stevens was sitting.

As we relayed earlier today, it had already been announced that Stevens wouldn’t be allowed back for this year’s finals, but this announcement gives further clarity on how long the investor will be banned from attending NBA games. The one-year ban will include the majority of next year’s postseason.

Warriors Stakeholder Who Shoved Lowry Won’t Attend Rest Of Finals

2:04pm: The NBA has issued its own statement on the issue, announcing that Stevens won’t be permitted to attend NBA games while the situation is reviewed.

“A team representative must be held to the highest possible standard and the conduct of Golden State Warriors investor Mark Stevens last night was beyond unacceptable and has no place in our league,” the league’s statement reads.

The Warriors have also indefinitely suspended Stevens from taking part in any team-related activities, tweets Mark Medina of The Bay Area News Group.

11:34am: The Warriors fan who shoved Kyle Lowry following a play along the sidelines during Wednesday’s night game is a minority stakeholder in the franchise, according to Ina Fried of Axios, who reports that the person in question is venture capitalist Mark Stevens.

Before Stevens’ identity had been reported, Lowry called for the league or team to take action in response to the Game 3 incident, which occurred during the fourth quarter after the Raptors point guard fell out of bounds trying to save a loose ball.

“Hopefully, he never comes back to an NBA game,” Lowry told reporters after the game.

Once Stevens was identified, the Warriors didn’t hesitate to respond, issuing a press release today announcing that his behavior “did not reflect the high standards that we hope to exemplify as an organization.”

“We’re extremely disappointed in his actions and, along with Mr. Stevens, offer our sincere apology to Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors organization for this unfortunate misconduct,” the Warriors said in a statement. “… Mr. Stevens will not be in attendance at any of the remaining games of the 2019 NBA Finals.”

The Warriors added that they’re continuing to review the situation, which suggests Stevens’ absence from the remaining games in this series might not be the end of the matter. It’s unclear whether Stevens’ stake in the team is in any jeopardy as a result of the incident.

Atlantic Notes: Kawhi, Lowry, Knicks, C’s, Sixers

While their star players haven’t been forced out of action like some Warriors have been, the Raptors are dealing with some health issues of their own in these NBA Finals, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

According to Vardon and Sam Amick of The Athletic, the leg injury that has been bothering Kawhi Leonard since the Raptors’ series against the Bucks is a left knee issue. While the right quad injury that sidelined Leonard for nearly all of 2017/18 hasn’t been a problem, his knee pain stems from overcompensating for that quad issue, Vardon writes.

Meanwhile, Vardon also provides more specifics on Kyle Lowry‘s left hand injury, noting that the Raptors’ All-Star point guard has a ligament tear in his thumb. Lowry has previously hinted that he may need to undergo a surgical procedure on the injury after the season, but he appears set to play through it for the rest of the Finals.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Raptors Notes: Finals, Leonard, Lowry, Ujiri

Having the Raptors in the NBA Finals will help significantly boost the league’s global ambition for success, Jerry Brewer writes for The Washington Post.

The NBA enjoys promoting the league and the sport of basketball as a worldwide activity despite having the most of its events in the United States, scheduling games in countries such as England, China and India in recent years. The entire country of Canada has rallied around Toronto in its pursuit of an NBA championship this season, with some dedicated fans even arriving to Sunday’s Game 2 more than 16 hours before doors opened.

“It’s overwhelming because you think, when I look at all the international players we have on our team . . . it’s really brought us together, and I think it says so much because that’s how our city is,” Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri said, according to Brewer. “That’s how the country is, that we can all relate to the multicultural or the diversity of Toronto and Canada, and that’s how our team is. They talk in different languages on defense. They talk in different languages in the locker room, and it’s like that in our organization. And being international myself and being from Africa, I’m proud of that.”

The NBA has generated more of a global audience in recent years, and with the success of the Raptors, these numbers could continue to grow. Toronto finished with the second-best record in franchise history this season at 58-24, one game behind last season’s record of 59-23.

There’s more out of Toronto tonight:

  • Kawhi Leonard remains the mystery man for the Raptors both physically and vocally, something the team is perfectly content with, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe writes. “I just try to take my experiences and just keep moving forward and just have fun,” Leonard said. “Like I said, just basketball at this point. Win, lose or draw, I’m still going to be living, still got a family. This is all for fun. But for me, it’s just the way I play. Until we win the game or it’s all done, then I’ll show some emotion. But I want to stay even-keeled while I’m going through it.”
  • Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com explores how Kyle Lowry became the last Raptors player standing from when he first joined the team in 2012. Since then, Toronto has undergone a series of personnel, coaching and culture changes, culminating in a spot in the NBA Finals this season.
  • Masai Ujiri deserves a large portion of credit for getting the Raptors through the Eastern Conference, Washburn writes in a different story for The Globe. Ujiri attributed some of his team’s success to former head coach Dwane Casey and former Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan for helping jumpstart the winning process in past seasons. “To give Dwane Casey credit, he prepared us for this, too. This is not something that started in one year,” Ujiri said as part of a larger statement. “I want to say that Dwane Casey and DeMar DeRozan are a part of this, they are part of our journey and how far this has come.”

Atlantic Notes: Horford, Brown, Nets, Lowry

The Celtics can’t really start planning their offseason until they know if Al Horford is picking up his $30.1MM option for next season, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Horford’s decision is due by June 18 and it will affect a lot of other areas in what could be a summer of change in Boston.

Horford’s choices are to either take the money, which is a hefty salary for a player about to turn 33, try his luck on the open market, or attempt to work out a longer deal with the Celtics that includes a smaller payment for next season. Forsberg notes that by opting in, Horford could make himself an attractive trade piece to help Boston match salaries in a deal for Anthony Davis or another star.

Even if the Celtics don’t get Davis and lose Kyrie Irving in free agency, Horford could be valuable to keep, Forsberg notes. He formed an effective combination with the team’s younger players during last year’s run to the conference finals.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • This will also be an important summer for Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension. Brown doesn’t have an agent, but he hopes the team will be open to talking about a long future together. “I’m 22 years old. I know I have a lot to learn,” he said. “I know the older guys on our team, I think they feel the same thing. They got a lot to learn, too. So, that’s a part of it; everybody growing.”
  • With rumors swirling of Irving possibly teaming up with D’Angelo Russell in the Nets‘ backcourt, the man who coached them both in high school believes they can be successful together. Marc Berman of The New York Post talked to Kevin Boyle, who knows both players as well as anyone. “I 1,000 percent think that could work,” Boyle said. “D’Angelo knows Kyrie, likes him, respects him. That could work with both sides. Kyrie could help D’Angelo to that top-10, top-15 level. I could see that blending together nicely. Not everybody fits with everybody. I don’t know why in Boston the things didn’t fit [for Irving], but it could fit there.”
  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry is one win away from cashing in on a $500K bonus for reaching the NBA Finals, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. If he collects, it would add $1.25MM to the team’s luxury tax payment. Lowry would earn another $500K if the Raptors win the NBA title.

Nurse: Leonard OK, Lowry Hurting, Anunoby Out

Raptors coach Nick Nurse had a mixed report on the status of three key players as his team prepares for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, relays Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Even though Kawhi Leonard has been noticeably limping during the past two games, Nurse expressed confidence today in a conference call with reporters that his star forward will be ready for tomorrow night.

“He’s feeling good,” Nurse said. “No concerns at this point. He’s good.”

Leonard was outstanding as Toronto won back-to-back games on its home court to even the series, scoring 36 and 19 points and playing effective defense against Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Kyle Lowry is also expected to play tomorrow, even though he is still feeling the effects of a left thumb injury that he suffered in the series against the Sixers. Lowry has been using a specially designed “oven mitt” to help with the healing process, but he still battles pain every time he takes the court.

“Kyle’s hand is not great,” Nurse said. “You know, he’s — it’s hurt and it’s sore and it causes him a lot of pain. But he seems to be able to manage it through the game and do what he can do. He’s obviously scoring and playing great on top of the other things he always does, and we’re really [seeing] a heck of a lot of toughness and again, the spirit that he just wants to be out there and help his team any way he can.”

Bontemps adds that the Raptors seem resigned to finishing the series without OG Anunoby, who is still recovering after an emergency appendectomy in mid-April.

“OG does not have a timetable for coming back,” Nurse said. “He is being more active every day. I think we are getting closer to a point where we’re — you know, unpack is the next step for him. He’s moving pretty good, he’s shooting, etc., but still a ways away from being able to take hits and contact in the areas that he needs to test out, I guess.”