Kyle Lowry

Deveney’s Latest: Conley, Heat, Lakers, Celtics

With the Grizzlies reportedly zeroing in on point guard Ja Morant at No. 2 in this year’s draft, Mike Conley‘s future in Memphis appears very much up in the air.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who reported in March that the Jazz are candidates to re-engage the Grizzlies in Conley trade talks this offseason, reiterated that point this week. However, according to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, Memphis is in the market for “quality” draft picks. Utah holds the No. 23 pick and may not pick in the top 20 anytime soon, so it could be tricky for the club to entice the Grizzlies with a package.

One team to watch in the Conley sweepstakes is Miami, according to Deveney, who writes that Heat president Pat Riley has “long coveted” the veteran point guard. The Heat may not be able to draft a difference-maker at No. 13, and acquiring Conley would allow the club to avoid rolling the dice in free agency in 2020, when few impact players are expected to hit the market.

Here’s more from Deveney on Conley and a few other topics:

  • Deveney also identifies the Pacers and Mavericks as possible suitors for Conley, though Indiana’s cap flexibility may be compromised if the team decides to re-sign a few of its own free agents, making Conley’s contract undesirable.
  • Even if the Lakers can’t acquire Anthony Davis, there’s a sense that they’ll be active on the trade market, writes Deveney. The team has several potential targets in mind, with Bradley Beal at or near the top of that list, depending on whether the Wizards make him available. According to Deveney, Kyle Lowry may also be a target if the Raptors lose Kawhi Leonard in free agency and retool their roster. The Lakers like Derrick Favors too, Deveney adds. Favors could be either a free agent or trade target, depending on what the Jazz do with his $17.65MM team option.
  • There’s some skepticism that the Celtics will use all three of their first-round picks in this year’s draft (Nos. 14, 20, and 22). The type of deal(s) that Boston will pursue may depend on what they expect to happen with Kyrie Irving.

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Siakam, Embiid, Smart

The Raptors were never close to a trade that would have shipped Kyle Lowry out of Toronto at this year’s deadline, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Lowry’s name was mentioned in discussions with the Grizzlies that might have brought Mike Conley in return. The Raptors wound up dealing for Marc Gasol, but chose to hang on to their point guard.

Charania’s report is part of a story that focuses on a February meeting between Lowry and president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri to clear the air about their relationship. Lowry made no effort to hide his disappointment after his long-time friend DeMar DeRozan was sent to San Antonio last summer in the deal that brought Kawhi Leonard to Toronto.

“You dwell on things that you don’t need to dwell on, and it makes things worse,” Lowry said. “You have a conversation, you figure things out, you talk about it, and you move on. Shake your hands, and you go about your business. It worked out for the both of us, worked out for everybody.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors forward Pascal Siakam plans to be ready for Game 5 after playing 28 minutes yesterday, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Siakam, who was a game-time decision, has been dealing with a right calf contusion and said it was very sore in pre-game warmups. He added it may have affected his lateral movement, but he will continue to monitor and treat the injury and is confident he will available Tuesday night.
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid was up all of Saturday night with an illness and had to get an IV at 6 a.m. before yesterday’s game, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Embiid managed just 11 points after a 33-point effort in Game 3. “I got a text from him at 6:20 a.m. this morning telling me he didn’t really sleep all night, he really never felt this poorly and, ‘I wasn’t sure, Coach, if I’m going to play.’ That’s how my day started,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said.
  • Sean Deveney of Sporting News examines how the possible return of injured Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon could affect their playoff series.

Raptors Notes: Lowry, Leonard, Small Lineup, Nurse

Kyle Lowry is facing a critical point not only in the Raptors‘ current playoff series, but maybe in his future in Toronto, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. A loss in the conference semifinals would likely lead to major changes for the organization, which could include moving on from Lowry, who will make $33.5MM next season in the final year of his contract.

The Raptors need more offense from Lowry, who made just two shots from the field and finished with seven points in a Game 3 loss. With Pascal Siakam listed as doubtful for today because of a calf contusion, Toronto will need someone to provide extra scoring punch.

“I passed up a lot of shots (in Game 3), and (I need to focus on) not anything but trying to make the next play, and the right play is me shooting sometimes,” Lowry said. “And overthinking that is trying to get everybody involved or get an easier shot or get someone else going. It’s kind of been one of the things where I shouldn’t have done (that) as much. But I’ve done it, but next game, and for the games going on, I’ve got to be a little bit more assertive.”

There’s more this morning from Toronto:

  • Toronto may be at a crossroads regarding its future, writes Tom Ziller of SB Nation. A loss today would put the Raptors in a 3-1 hole, making it unlikely that they’ll win the series, which in turn makes it harder to imagine that Kawhi Leonard will stay in Toronto, Ziller notes. Leonard is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract this summer and is rumored to want to play in Los Angeles. Siakam looks like a future star, but if Leonard leaves, the Raptors will be left with an aging core of Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka.
  • The Raptors may move away from their smaller lineups after being dominated inside in Game 3, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. That means the trio of Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell may not take the floor together in today’s game, which could result in more minutes for Leonard and Patrick McCaw. “Obviously you look at — jeez, they just look bigger, and the size problem, and with Kyle-Fred-Norm out there we get a little small, right?” coach Nick Nurse said. “But there’s some things we can do with the rotations. We’ll take a look at that, but we can get bigger out there.”
  • Max Whittle of Sky Sports examines Nurse’s journey from the British Basketball League to the NBA playoffs.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Dolan, Wizards, Hawks Workouts

Sixers guard Ben Simmons has been assessed a Flagrant One foul and fined $20K for striking Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry in the groin on Thursday, according to a tweet from the league’s PR department. The incident occurred during the second quarter of Game 3, which Philadelphia won 116-95. Simmons, who had 10 points, seven assists and seven rebounds in the game, was whistled for three common fouls.

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Shareholders of Madison Square Garden Company have filed a suit against Knicks owner James Dolan, its executive chairman and CEO, for being grossly overpaid, Pitchfork.com reports. Over the last three fiscal years, MSG has paid Dolan $75.6MM, according to company filings. MSG’s peer companies have paid their CEOs an average of $17MM over the same period, according to the lawsuit. The filing also claims that Dolan “works at MSG only part time,” with much of his focus going toward touring and recording for his band JD & the Straight Shot. MSG has labelled the lawsuit “nothing more than corporate harassment.”
  • Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly and Wizards interim GM Tommy Sheppard are potential candidates, along with Danny Ferry, for Washington’s top executive post, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said in a Wizards Talk Podcast relayed by NBC Sports Washington’s Caroline Brandt. Ferry, who most recently was interim GM with the Pelicans, interviewed for the job this week. Windhorst also indicated there’s at least one mystery candidate the Wizards will pursue. “There may be another name or two that I’m not willing to say just yet who may be on the Wizards’ list,” Windhorst said.
  • The Hawks brought in six players for pre-draft workouts on Friday, according to a team press release. Forward/center Nathan Knight of William & Mary, forwards Anthony Lamb (Vermont), Kouat Noi (TCU) and Killian Tillie (Gonzaga) and guards Andrew Nembhard (Florida) and D’Marcus Simonds (Georgia State) participated in the workout. Tillie is the highest-ranked prospect in the group, currently rated No. 82 overall by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony.

Contract Bonus Notes: Lowry, Olynyk, Gobert, Harkless

Although he didn’t play in the Raptors‘ regular season finale on Tuesday night, Kyle Lowry appeared in 65 games in 2018/19, just barely reaching an important threshold for the bonuses in his contract, ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes.

Having met the 65-game criteria, Lowry has earned his $200K bonus for making the All-Star Game, which was deemed likely entering the season. He’s also eligible for another $1.5MM in incentives depending on how far Toronto advances in the playoffs — he’ll get $500K if the Raps win the Eastern Semifinals, another $500K if they win the Eastern Finals, and an additional $500K if they win the NBA Finals.

Here are details on a few more bonuses that have been resolved or are about to be:

  • Since the Heat failed to reach the postseason, Kelly Olynyk missed out on a $400K bonus that had been considered likely, Marks tweets. That will move Miami further below the tax line and will ensure that Olynyk’s 2019/20 cap hit adjusts from approximately $13.07MM to $12.67MM.
  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert met a statistical threshold determined by his minutes divided by his rebounds, earning a $250K unlikely incentives, per Marks. If Gobert also earns a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team and secures a $500K likely incentive, his cap hit for 2019/20 is set to increase from $24.75MM to $25MM.
  • Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless has a $500K bonus in his contract for shooting at least 35.0% on three-point attempts, but he won’t earn it this season, having made just 27.5% of his threes. As Marks details, the incentives had been considered likely this season, but it will be adjusted to unlikely for 2019/20. Portland will slightly reduce its tax bill for this season and Harkless’ cap hit for next year will dip from about $11.5MM to $11MM.

And-Ones: Nurkic, Bonuses, Draft, Poirier

Jusuf Nurkic‘s season came to an early end this week when he suffered a horrific leg injury that figures to sideline him for much of the 2019/20 campaign as well. While it was a devastating blow for Nurkic and the Trail Blazers, the veteran center might get a bit of good news before the regular season.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN.com details in an Insider-only story, Nurkic will earn a $1.25MM bonus if Portland records at least 50 wins this season. The Trail Blazers’ record currently sits at 47-27, giving the team eight more games to win three more games, which seems like a reasonable bet. If Nurkic does earn that bonus, the Blazers’ projected tax bill will increase by more than $2MM and the big man’s cap hits in future seasons would rise, Marks notes.

Marks has the details on several other potential incentives within his article, noting that Clint Capela (Rockets) and Kyle Lowry (Raptors) will earn bonuses of $1MM and $500K respectively if their teams reach the conference finals. Lowry, who must appear in five of Toronto’s last six games to achieve his bonus, also gets a $500K incentive if the Raptors reach the NBA Finals and another $500K if they win the title.

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson are two of the most successful players in NBA history, but they’ve yet to achieve much success as executives for the Hornets and Lakers respectively. Shaun Powell of NBA.com takes a look at how the two NBA legends are trying to turn their teams into winners.
  • The NCAA has made some changes to its rules for early entrants this year, as underclassmen are now permitted to hire agents while they test the draft waters and retain their NCAA eligibility. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) breaks down the new rules, with multiple agents weighing in on the pros and cons of the changes for young prospects.
  • French big man Vincent Poirier, who plays for Baskonia in Spain, said in an interview with RMC Sports that there are NBA clubs with interest in him, as Orazio Cauchi of Sportando relays. It’s not clear which teams those are, or whether they’ll attempt to bring him stateside once his contract with Baskonia expires.

Atlantic Notes: Monroe, Lowry, LeVert, Sixers

Greg Monroe is ready to contribute right away after signing a 10-day contract with the Celtics earlier today, relays Taylor Snow of NBA.com. The deal was finalized this afternoon after being first reported Friday and delayed amid rumors that Boston wanted to give the final roster spot to Thomas Robinson. An injury to Robert Williams last night, with Al Horford and Aron Baynes already sidelined, may have convinced the Celtics to add another center.

“Obviously those guys were having a few little injuries and have been missing a few games,” Monroe said. “So it’s definitely about helping them out and getting ready for the playoffs. That what it’s about, trying to get those guys fully healthy to make a run.”

The 28-year-old spent the first part of this season in Toronto, but has been out of the NBA since being acquired and then waived by the Nets at the trade deadline. Monroe hopes to help out the Celtics the way he did last year when he averaged 10.2 PPG and 6.3 RPG after joining the team in February.

“We’ve always thought highly of Greg,” coach Brad Stevens said. “… He’s a bright guy and when you put him through our stuff, he knows it right after he gets here. Doesn’t take him long.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry returned to the court tonight even though his right ankle isn’t fully healed, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Lowry missed back-to-back games after a scary incident Monday night, but said he felt like he needed to start playing again. “I could sit out until the playoffs with the type of injury I have but I want to play, keep a rhythm, get out there with the guys and play some basketball,” he said. “If I can get out there and play, I’m going to go play.”
  • Nets players aren’t waiting for summer to start recruiting Kevin Durant, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Durant’s new video series “Fly By” will include a tour of Brooklyn from D’Angelo Russell. Teammate Caris LeVert, who serves as Durant’s summertime workout partner, isn’t shy about making his pitch. “I don’t think superstars, especially Kevin, want to be the one who has to carry the whole team, the full load on his own,” LeVert said. “He’s in his 30s now, so he definitely wants to go to a team that has a good core, has a good culture, has good guys on the team, and we fit all those categories.”
  • The Sixers‘ blockbuster trades could backfire if they can’t keep the starting five together after this season, warns Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The front office will likely have to give max deals to both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris, and J.J. Redick will be a free agent as well.

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.”