Kyle Lowry

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Simmons, Celtics, Lowry

Joel Embiid has been listed as questionable for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The Sixers center will undergo further treatment and workouts before his status is determined for the Sunday afternoon game, Charania adds.

Embiid hasn’t played since suffering a small meniscus tear in his right knee on Monday. He is considered day to day, and his availability will depend on how the knee responds.

Embiid was limited to individual workouts during practices today and Friday, according to Ky Carlin of USA Today’s Sixers Wire. Embiid didn’t join his teammates for any live-ball activities at either session.

“The same,” coach Doc Rivers said when asked for an update on Embiid’s condition. “He did a little bit on the floor, no live, I can say that today. Just he did what he could do.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The uncertainty surrounding Embiid gives Ben Simmons a chance to cement his legacy with the Sixers, writes Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Simmons helped close out the Wizards with a triple-double in Game 5, but the Hawks should be a more difficult challenge. Hayes points out that Rivers and first-year president of basketball operations Daryl Morey inherited Simmons from the previous regime and may not hesitate to move on from him if they don’t believe he can help them win a title.
  • Celtics assistant Scott Morrison will interview for the team’s head coaching vacancy, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The 43-year-old Morrison earned G League Coach of the Year honors in 2015 with the Maine Red Claws and has been part of Brad Stevens’ staff since 2017. Fellow Boston assistant Jerome Allen, who has also been confirmed for an interview with the Celtics, will interview for the Trail Blazers’ head coaching spot as well, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • The Raptors will have plenty of competition for Kyle Lowry in free agency this summer, with the Lakers, Heat, Knicks and Sixers all expected to pursue him, writes Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. He notes that Lowry said, “Money talks, and years talk” in his postseason press conference, indicating the veteran point guard will be looking for a multiyear offer.

Heat Notes: Leonard, Butler, Lowry, Free Agency

Jimmy Butler‘s ties to Kawhi Leonard could impact what the two-time NBA champion decides to do if he reaches free agency this summer, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel speculates.

Leonard holds a $36MM player option for the 2021/22 season and could choose to sign elsewhere — especially if the Clippers lose in the first round. Los Angeles is currently trailing Dallas 2-1 in its series.

Miami lost all four games to Milwaukee in its own series, becoming the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs despite reaching the Finals last fall. If Leonard chooses to explore his options, the Heat could offer a compelling role alongside Butler, Bam Adebayo and others — though the team would need to create sufficient salary-cap space for him first.

There’s more out of Miami tonight:

  • The Heat could also pursue Kyle Lowry in free agency, though that situation is more complicated than some may realize, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald explores. The team expressed interest in Lowry prior to the trade deadline, ultimately opting not to make a deal.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether a playoff lineup change is a sign of things to come in free agency. Miami opted to start Goran Dragic in place of Kendrick Nunn during the team’s final two games of the series against Milwaukee, though Dragic mostly struggled. Nunn will enter restricted free agency this offseason, while Dragic has a $19.4MM team option for 2021/22.
  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald looks back on the Heat’s underwhelming season and what comes next. Miami dealt with a shortened offseason, COVID issues and multiple injuries throughout the campaign, complicating the club’s season from the start.

Southeast Notes: Gafford, Lowry, Magic, Wiz Arena

During a recent media session, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks responded to growing fan interest in athletic, defensive-oriented reserve center Daniel Gafford receiving a heavier minutes load, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“There’s always other things to consider; foul situations that we have to be aware of,” Brooks said. “One thing I love about Gaff’ is he understands and he wants to get better. He’s very coachable, he listens to our veterans, he listens to our coaches. He’s a really, really talented young player that’s going to continue to grow into a really good player.”

Gafford is currently averaging 17.7 MPG for the Wizards this season, more than starter Alex Len (15.8 MPG) but fewer than fellow bench big Robin Lopez (19.1 MPG).

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders if the Heat will make another run at current Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, a free agent this summer. Miami considered trading for the former six-time All-Star at this season’s deadline, but instead opted to add guard Victor Oladipo, who only appeared in four games for the club before requiring another surgery on the right quadriceps tendon he initially ruptured in 2019. Winderman notes that Heat star swingman Jimmy Butler and Lowry are close, as Lowry is the godfather to Butler’s daughter. Winderman adds that adding a high-level veteran point guard to upgrade the position could help the Heat convince Butler to ink a contract extension, which he will be eligible to do this summer.
  • With the Magic potentially in position to make two lottery selections in this summer’s tantalizing draft, Josh Robbins of The Athletic examines which Orlando players seem most likely to stick around into the 2021/22 season, and which seem liable to leave. Robbins predicts that shooting guard Dwayne Bacon, forward Ignas Brazdeikis, and big man Donta Hall will all be moving on this summer.
  • The Wizards will be boosting the crowd capacity of their home court, the Capital One Arena, to 50% of its total capacity, writes Ava Wallace of the Washington Post. The venue had previously permitted just 25% capacity due to coronavirus-era indoor attendance restrictions. Now, approximately 10,000 fans will be able to watch the Wizards’ first postseason home games in three seasons when the team’s current first-round matchup against the Sixers moves to D.C. on Saturday.

Raptors’ Ujiri Talks Contract Situation, Lowry, Return To Toronto

Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri held his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday, addressing a wide range of topics in the wake of what has been an eventful season for a displaced franchise.

As Tim Bontemps of ESPN details, Ujiri spent some time discussing the challenges the team faced spending the season in Tampa instead of Toronto, and also addressed two major upcoming free agencies: point guard Kyle Lowry‘s and his own. Both Lowry and Ujiri are on expiring contracts.

[RELATED: Growing Confidence Masai Ujiri Will Remain With Raptors?]

In discussing Lowry’s situation, Ujiri stressed that “it’s hard to find a better player than Kyle” and suggested that the 35-year-old is even more valuable to the Raptors than to another team. However, he also spoke about building around younger players and giving them more opportunities, perhaps providing a hint of what next season could look like for the team if Lowry doesn’t return.

As for his own contract situation, Ujiri said he appreciates the freedom he has to go into the luxury tax when the Raptors are in position to win, but that he wants to discuss some other issues with team ownership, such as the infrastructure of the organization (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of The Athletic).

Bontemps’ roundup of the presser is worth checking out in full, but here are a few of the notable quotes from Ujiri on his contract negotiations and the Raptors’ situation going forward:

On factors Ujiri will consider as he approaches contract negotiations with the Raptors:

“Everybody says, ‘blank check, blank check,’ but I’m not as much focused on a blank check. A lot of the things that we’ve done here, we have to move forward as a franchise to compete with the best in the NBA. This is all about winning a championship again.

“… I want to know, ‘So, what’s the next lift? What’s the next five years? What’s the next 10 years? What are we doing to put ourselves in conversation with all the great teams and all the winners?’ That’s what we want to do, and that’s the conversation that I’m going to have with (ownership). And, yes, I’m going to have asks, and I’m going to have a lot of things that I think we need to put forward here to address these things, and I think ownership is open to hear this.”

On his feeling that the Raptors face some disadvantages as the only non-U.S. NBA franchise:

“I think it’s difficult sometimes for the league to always include us in everything because we are the one team that is based outside the U.S. I’m sure sometimes it’s a pain in the ass sometimes for them. But guess what? That is the business you have put yourself in. You have put yourself on a global platform that you have one team in the NBA that is outside the United States and we have to be considered in every single way. There are difficult decisions that have to be made based on this.

“… (NBA commissioner) Adam Silver has been very considerate. … I don’t want to call out anybody here. But there is a lot of work we need to address.”

On his strong desire for the Raptors to return to Toronto for the 2021/22 season:

“So, the situation we are in in Toronto now, I’m hoping that we’re seeing it and we’re hoping that it gets resolved, hopefully soon. And all over Canada, people continue to get vaccinated, and then we go from there. … I don’t want to be selfish on the sports part, and as an NBA worker or executive, I don’t want to be selfish and push our agenda before other people, but yes, timing matters and we would like to be considered, because we do not want — I repeat — we do not want to play anywhere else but Toronto.”

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, M. James, Embiid, Knicks, Nets

Asked today about his upcoming free agency, Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry mentioned a number of factors that he’ll consider as he makes his decision, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Lowry cited family considerations as one important factor, along with “money” and “years,” as well as his desire to win more championships (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of

Perhaps most interestingly, Lowry suggested his future may be tied in part to that of president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, who is the Raptors’ other key free agent this summer: “I told him this, the only reason I’m still here is because of him. Part of the reason I re-signed here twice is because of him. That is a large part of why I am able to be who I am and gotten to this point.”

Based on Lowry’s comments about prioritizing family and competing for titles, Eric Koreen of The Athletic believes the six-time All-Star is probably more likely to join a new team than to return to the Raptors. However, Lowry also hinted that he may have unfinished business with his current club after a disappointing 2020/21 season spent away from Toronto.

“It does play a factor in it because I enjoy the challenge of people counting me out, counting the team out,” Lowry said. “I enjoy that competitive nature, and I wanna challenge myself and see what I can continue to help do and build. But a lot of things will be factored into this summer and this free agency. The unfinished business thing is part of it, a little bit.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • There has been an expectation that Mike James‘ stint with the Nets will be temporary, since he remains under contract with EuroLeague powerhouse CSKA Moscow through 2022/23. However, international reporter Chema de Lucas tweets that James may try to stay in the NBA beyond this season, and Aris Barkas of suggests CSKA Moscow would be open to that idea if they can save some money and keep James away from their European rivals.
  • When Joel Embiid suffered a knee injury on March 12 that was later diagnosed as a bone bruise, he initially feared that it would be a season-ender, he tells ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, who published an in-depth feature on the Sixers center. “As soon as I fell, the first thing that I’m thinking is: ‘My season is over,'” Embiid said. Having avoided a major injury such as an ACL tear, the big man returned to action just three weeks later, on April 3.
  • Loosened restrictions on gathering in New York mean that the Knicks and Nets are in position to significantly increase their arena capacities for the postseason, as Steve Popper of Newsday details.

Kyle Lowry On Knicks’ Offseason Radar

After not making a move for a point guard at the trade deadline in March, the Knicks are expected to resume their search in the offseason, armed with a handful of potential trade assets and a good deal of cap room.

While younger point guards such as Lonzo Ball and Dennis Schröder have been frequently cited as possible targets for New York, the team also has Raptors veteran Kyle Lowry on its radar for the summer, sources tell Ian Begley of

The Lakers, Sixers, and Heat were in the running at this year’s trade deadline for Lowry, who ultimately stayed put in Toronto. Now that the six-time All-Star is set to reach unrestricted free agency, those teams could once again pursue him, but the Lakers and Sixers will be well over the cap and would have a hard time completing a sign-and-trade, and the Knicks will have more cap space than Miami. If Leon Rose and his front office are serious about pursuing Lowry, they could emerge as a top suitor and put real pressure on the Raptors.

At age 35, Lowry is expected to seek one more lucrative multiyear deal, but he wouldn’t require a four-year commitment like Ball and Schröder probably will. The idea of signing Lowry to a shorter-term deal could appeal to the Knicks’ front office, since it would allow the team to add an impact player while maintaining cap flexibility for another big move in the next year or two.

Whether or not Lowry will be atop the Knicks’ list of targets remains to be seen. It’s also unclear whether he’d reciprocate that interest — it’s possible he’d prefer to stick with the Raptors, head home to Philadelphia, or team up with good friend Jimmy Butler in Miami.

However, it’s worth noting – as Begley writes, and as we’ve heard from other reporters throughout the season – that the league-wide perception of the Knicks among players and agents seems to be improving. The team’s success in 2020/21 has been a major factor in enhancing New York’s reputation, as has the new front office. According to Begley, agents who have griped in the past about the Knicks’ inability to promptly return calls say that Rose’s group has been far more responsive and upfront in its communication.

In his 15th NBA season, Lowry has been his usual productive self, averaging 17.2 points, 7.3 assists, and 5.4 rebounds in 46 games (34.8 MPG), with a .436/.396/.875 shooting line and solid perimeter defense.

Lakers Notes: Gasol, Matthews, LeBron, Lowry

The Lakers got important contributions from two little-used veterans as they ended a three-game losing streak Monday night, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Marc Gasol, who has seen his playing time cut sharply since the addition of Andre Drummond, posted 10 points, seven rebounds and a plus-17 rating in 17 minutes. Wesley Matthews scored eight points while hitting all three of his shots from the field.

“I think we have to start thinking more as a team, instead of mentioning guys,” Gasol said. “It’s more who we are as a team and who we’re going to be. Everyone tied to one another regardless of your situation. You play zero minutes, you play 20 minutes, the team success is everyone’s success.”

Both players joined the Lakers as free agents in November, with Gasol getting a two-year deal and Matthews signing for one year. They both expected larger roles, but are trying to make the most of their opportunities as the playoffs near.

“Like I said, basketball, it’s just like life, it’s unpredictable,” Matthews said. “You don’t know what may or may not happen, but you got to be prepared for it. You got to continue to go on. You can either go on with it or it goes on without you.”

There’s more on the Lakers:

  • LeBron James sat out Monday’s game and is considered day-to-day after aggravating his right ankle injury, Turner tweets. L.A. doesn’t play again until Thursday, and James’ status for that game is uncertain.
  • The Lakers may regret not making a greater effort to trade for Kyle Lowry at the deadline, contends Eric Koreen of The Athletic. L.A. was limited in what it could offer, but Koreen believes there was an opportunity to swoop in after the Sixers and Heat dropped out of the bidding. The Lakers reportedly weren’t willing to part with Talen Horton-Tucker, which left nothing else that the Raptors were interested in.
  • This year’s struggles have shown the dangers of building a team around James, who is 36, and Davis, who has been injury-prone throughout his career, writes Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times. He also notes that both players returned from their injuries to a different team, as the Lakers signed Drummond and Ben McLemore while they were out and made other changes to their rotation.

Atlantic Notes: Knox-Ntilikina, Gillespie, Flynn, Thybulle

Recent Knicks lottery picks Kevin Knox and Frank Ntilikina appear to be fully out of New York’s rotation when it comes to logging meaningful minutes, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. The downside of head coach Tom Thibodeau barely using either player, even in light of swingman Alec Burks‘s recent coronavirus-mandated absence, is that neither man has been able to showcase much on-court value to garner much trade traction this offseason.

Despite the players’ limited in-game exposure, teammates have applauded their preparedness. “One thing about those guys is they’re coming in every day, they’re one of the first guys in the gym,’’ Knicks bench big man Taj Gibson said of the two former lottery picks. “At night, when I come back in at night, they’re one of the first faces I see in the gym at night. They’re always ready. They do whatever the team needs.”

“They work extremely hard,” applauded Knicks forward RJ Barrett. “I just saw Kevin out there on the court dripping in sweat getting the work in. When they’ve gotten their opportunity they’ve done extremely well.’’

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • In opting to ink undrafted rookie power forward Freddie Gillespie to a two-year contract after his two 10-day deals with the Raptors expired, the team is clearly buying low on a promising backup prospect, writes Dave Feschuck of the Toronto Star.
  • The promising in-season development of rookie Raptors point guard Malachi Flynn could wind up being a factor in how the franchise evaluates the future of longtime Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry, writes Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. An unrestricted free agent in 2021, Lowry is expected to receive serious interest from contenders. Smith notes that if Flynn continues along his current growth pace heading into the 2021/22 season, the Raptors could be more comfortable moving on from Lowry. “He’s running the team better,” head coach Nick Nurse said of Flynn’s recent play. “He’s play-calling. He’s getting people organized. He’s getting off the ball. He’s getting in the paint. He’s getting to the rim. Those are all additions to the way he started out, I think.”
  • Second-year Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle has played himself into consideration for inclusion on one of the league’s All-Defensive Teams, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Despite averaging just 20.0 MPG, Thybulle ranks ninth in SPG (1.59), seventh in deflections per game (3.1), and 24th in BPG (1.1). “His length, No. 1, and his ability to close reminds me a lot of [NFL cornerback] Deion Sanders,” head coach Doc Rivers raved. “Deion always gave guys cushions, and [opposing] quarterbacks never threw it because they knew if they did, somehow he would get there.”

Sixers May Renew Kyle Lowry Pursuit In Offseason

The Sixers weren’t able to pry Kyle Lowry away from the Raptors at last month’s trade deadline, but they plan to renew their pursuit of the veteran guard this offseason, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic.

As Amick explains, while the 76ers addressed their point guard spot by acquiring George Hill at the deadline, Hill has an expiring contract in 2021/22 and only has a partial guarantee ($1.28MM of $10MM+), so he’s not necessarily viewed as a long-term answer in that role.

The Sixers project to be over the cap this summer, so they’d need to negotiate a sign-and-trade in order to land Lowry, Amick notes. Completing such a deal would be a challenge — Philadelphia wouldn’t want to include Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, or Tobias Harris in an offer for Lowry, but those three players earn a combined $100MM next season.

Teams that acquire a player via sign-and-trade become hard-capped at the tax apron for the rest of the league year. This year’s tax apron was $139MM and next season’s won’t be significantly higher, so the Sixers would be hard-pressed to accommodate lucrative contracts for Embiid, Simmons, Harris, and Lowry and fill out the rest of their 15-man roster without surpassing that threshold.

Landing Lowry at a rate far lower than his current $30MM salary would be an ideal scenario for the Sixers, but the six-time All-Star reportedly won’t be looking to take a pay cut, and he’s expected to be a popular target on this offseason’s free agent market, one general manager tells Amick.

“There’s teams with money and not a lot of players, so I think he’s going to do really well,” the GM said of Lowry.

The Raptors are also expected to make an effort to re-sign Lowry, and the Heat were known to be interested last month — Miami should have enough cap room to make a serious play for the 35-year-old if they so choose.

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Knicks, Tolliver, VanVleet, Raptors

It’s been about three months since Jayson Tatum tested positive for COVID-19, but the Celtics forward is still dealing with the aftereffects of the virus, he acknowledged on Tuesday, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

“It’s a process. It takes a long time,” Tatum said. “I take an inhaler before the game since I’ve tested positive. This has kind of helped with that and opened up my lungs, and, you know, I never took an inhaler before. So that’s something different.”

Tatum said he “for sure” feels better now than he did a month ago, though he admitted he’s not sure when he’ll be able to stop using an inhaler before games.

“There’s no exact timetable,” Tatum said. “(It’s) just when I feel comfortable enough and I think I don’t need it.”

  • The Knicks had internal discussions last week about the possibility of adding Anthony Tolliver, per Marc Berman of The New York Post. As Berman explains, New York was looking for a player who could play the center position, and Tolliver – who ended up signing with Philadelphia – is more of a forward.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said on Tuesday that there was no timeline for Fred VanVleet‘s return from a hip injury, as Josh Lewenberg of tweets. However, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link), VanVleet will serve his one-game suspension on Wednesday. Because VanVleet was suspended while injured, he wasn’t able to serve the one-game ban until he was cleared to play, so it sounds like his return may be imminent.
  • Besides missing VanVleet tonight, the Raptors will also be without Kyle Lowry (rest/toe) and Gary Trent Jr. (ankle), Murphy notes (via Twitter). Despite a brutal 4-17 slump, Toronto is still just two games out of the 10th seed in the East, but injuries have prevented the team from making a push for a play-in spot.