Kyle Lowry

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 Sportsnet.ca 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 SI.com. 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 TSN.ca (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.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Larkin, Zizic, Raptors

The Knicks are in the process of filling out David Fizdale‘s new coaching staff, and are engaged in serious talks with Lakers assistant Jud Buechler about a move to New York, sources tell ESPN’s Ian Begley. Buechler, who played in the NBA for 12 seasons and won three titles with the Bulls, has worked in a player development role on Luke Walton‘s staff since 2016. He also coached the Lakers’ Summer League squad to a championship victory in Vegas last summer.

Meanwhile, the Knicks are also in advanced discussions with Clippers assistant Pat Sullivan about joining Fizdale’s staff, says Begley. A veteran assistant, Sullivan has worked for the Wizards, Pistons, and Nets, and was in Detroit at the same time that current Knicks GM Scott Perry worked in the Pistons’ front office.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said on Tuesday that there’s a chance injured guard Shane Larkin could return before the end of the Eastern Conference Finals, but Larkin is doubtful to play in Game 5 (Twitter link). Larkin, who is battling an injured shoulder, went through an individual workout on Sunday and said at the time that he felt like he was getting “pretty close,” per Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com. “The biggest part is just being able to protect the shoulder from another blow like that,” Larkin said. “Because another blow like that means more severe injury and surgery and all that.”
  • Despite barely spending any time under contract with the Celtics, Cavs center Ante Zizic says he felt like he was with the club for “a year or two” before being traded to Cleveland, he tells Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Zizic also spoke to Bulpett about being drafted and stashed by the C’s, and being included in last year’s Kyrie Irving blockbuster.
  • Sean Deveney of The Sporting News spoke to a league executive about the trade value of the Raptors‘ four highest-paid players, with that exec suggesting that Kyle Lowry would probably be the most appealing trade chip of the bunch.

Raptors Notes: Casey, HC Search, Valanciunas

The Raptors made a difficult decision to fire head coach Dwane Casey today, and according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca, there were three areas over the years where the club felt that Casey was lacking.

Two of those three areas were related to his in-game adjustments (or lack thereof) and his tendency to stick with a “tried and true” approach rather than attempting new methods. As Grange observes, the Raptors’ new-look offense in 2017/18 was a top-down directive that was implemented with significant input from assistant coach Nick Nurse, rather than something Casey initiated himself.

The third factor in the Raptors’ decision involves stars Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. According to Grange, the franchise hopes to find a head coach more “determined” to push those two players out of their comfort zones. Grange suggests that there was some frustration within the organization that DeRozan wasn’t held accountable frequently enough for his defensive lapses.

Grange’s piece includes several more interesting tidbits on the Raptors’ decision-making process and what led the team to this point, so it’s worth reading in full. Here’s more out of Toronto:

  • During his press conference this afternoon, Raptors president Masai Ujiri denied a report that Casey had requested a contract extension before he was fired (Twitter link via Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun). Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today first reported that Casey had sought an extension, with Grange confirming separately that Casey was seeking a two-year deal.
  • Although Ujiri said today that there’s no timetable for the Raptors to hire a new head coach, league sources suggested to Grange that it likely won’t take long for the team to find Casey’s replacement.
  • According to Ujiri, the Raptors will consider experienced candidates as well as younger coaches. “We’ll look everywhere,” he said, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). Current assistants like Nick Nurse and Rex Kalamian remain with the franchise for now, with Ujiri suggesting some of them could get interviews for the head coaching job.
  • Earlier this afternoon, we asked you whether firing Casey was the right decision by the Raptors. Place your vote and join the discussion right here.
  • On a non-coaching note, Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas has committed to playing for Lithuania during this summer’s FIBA 2019 World Cup qualifiers, according to FIBA.basketball.

Contract Notes: Embiid, Davis, Lillard, Lowry

When All-NBA voters decide whether or not to classify Anthony Davis as a forward or center on their ballots this year, they may indirectly impact the value of Joel Embiid‘s new contract by approximately $30MM.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details, the extension Embiid signed with the Sixers last offseason will be worth 25% of the cap starting in 2018/19. However, the contract includes a clause that states his starting salary would increase to 30% if he’s named to the All-NBA First Team. That salary bump would increase his overall earnings by about $30MM over the life of the five-year deal, but it can probably only happen if Davis receives most of his All-NBA votes at forward. Otherwise, he seems like a good bet to beat out Embiid for the center spot on the First Team.

No player has more at stake as a result of All-NBA voting or various other benchmarks than Embiid. But that contract is just one of many that could be affected by a variety of award results, postseason outcomes, or other criteria.

Marks’ piece is worth checking out in full for all the details, but here’s a quick look at a few noteworthy contract situations:

  • Pelicans star Anthony Davis will become eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension in 2019 if he earns an All-NBA spot this year. However, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is among the players who would need another All-NBA nod in 2019 to qualify for a supermax deal, even if he’s on this year’s All-NBA squad. Those Designated Veteran Extensions are known as supermax contracts because they start at 35% of the salary cap instead of 30%.
  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors) and Victor Oladipo (Pacers) would get sizable bonuses if their teams make deep playoff runs. Lowry would receive $500K for reaching the Eastern Finals, another $500K for winning the East, and another $500K for a title. Oladipo would earn $250K if Indiana reaches the NBA Finals.
  • All-Defense honors would pay off for Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. Gobert will get a $500K bonus if he’s named to the All-Defense First Team, while Holiday would get $100K for a spot on the First Team or Second Team.
  • Among the players who have already earned bonuses: Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon ($900K for incentives related to points, rebounds, and games played), Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless ($500K for his three-point percentage), Bucks center John Henson ($500K for playing 75+ games), and Jazz guard Ricky Rubio ($175K for his field-goal and free-throw percentages).

Atlantic Notes: Fultz, Lowry, Irving, Celtics

Sixers rookie Markelle Fultz will have the final say in whether he plays again this season, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The first overall pick in last year’s draft has been limited to four games because of a shoulder injury and difficulties with his jumper. He sat out his 68th straight game tonight, but his shot has looked better in pre-game warmups and there is speculation that he might see some action before the playoffs.

“It’s just something that when Markelle Fultz feels like he can go, like he really feels good about himself and his health, the shoulder, everything,” coach Brett Brown said before tonight’s game. “… He knows he’s got a coaching staff and a team that will welcome him in when he says go.” 

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry is still playing at a high level at age 32 and believes he has a lot of years left in the NBA, relays Josh Lewenburg of TSN. Lowry, who talks about staying in the league until age 40, says he is inspired by some of the league’s elder statesmen. “[LeBron James] is kinda setting the trend to show that it ain’t the olden times,” Lowry said. “You know, guys at 32 [or] 33, [it used to be] like ‘Oh, they’re done’. But I think those days are over. … We all know our bodies, our diets, we’ve got nutritionists, chefs, trainers. It’s a little bit of a different game and [with new] technology I think guys will be able to play at a higher level at 35 or 36 years old.” Lowry will be 34 when his current contract expires in 2020.
  • Even though Kyrie Irving is expected to miss the first part of the playoffs, there’s a silver lining for the Celtics regarding today’s surgical procedure on his knee, writes Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated. The operation showed the patella fracture he suffered during the 2015 NBA Finals is fully healed and the knee is structurally sound. President of basketball operations Danny Ainge has a long-term plan to build around Irving and Gordon Hayward, Dollinger adds, and should be relieved that Irving projects to have a healthy future.
  • The Celtics had to alter their plans to sign Sean Kilpatrick to a 10-day contract when he reportedly got a better offer from another team. Boston is targeting perimeter depth with its hardship exception, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe.

Eastern Rumors: Magic, Mirotic, Parker, Simmons

The Magic will likely be in firesale mode approaching the trade deadline, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. Rival executives expect Orlando, which has sunk to the bottom of the conference standings, to shop guards Evan Fournier and Elfrid Payton and swingman Mario Hezonja, Stein adds. Fournier is signed through the 2020/21 season at $17MM annually. Payton can become a restricted free agent in the summer, while Hezonja will be an unrestricted free agent after the team declined to pick up his fourth-year option in October.

In other items regarding the Eastern Conference:

  • Bulls forward Nikola Mirotic is now eligible to be dealt and admitted to reporters, including ESPN’s Nick Friedell, that he’s motivated by the trade chatter. He signed a two-year, $27MM contract in September that includes a team option for next season. That made him ineligible to be moved until mid-January. “This is kind of some motivation for me,” he said. “I know it sounds weird. But people are talking, ‘OK, Niko be gone’ and ‘Bye bye, Niko’ or whatever. But for me, it’s OK, just do what you’ve got to do. Play well and try to do your best until the last day and not be distracted.”
  • Bucks forward Jabari Parker believes he’ll make his season debut before the All-Star break, he told Scott Grodsky of CBS 58 in Milwaukee. Parker tore his ACL in February, his second major knee injury since entering the league. Parker, who was assigned to the Bucks’ G League affiliate on Monday to continue his rehab, is targeting “the first two weeks before the All-Star game. It’s probably in that area.”
  • Sixers rookie Ben Simmons vows he won’t back down from a challenge, according to an Associated Press report. Simmons and the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry were ejected during the closing seconds on Monday after an altercation. Simmons believes that veteran opponents are trying to intimidate him. “I don’t know if they’re trying to test me or see how I am on the court, but I won’t play around,” he said.