Kyle Lowry

Eastern Notes: Williams, Kyrie, Raptors

Marvin Williams is making his debut for the Bucks on Wednesday night and ESPN’s Eric Woodyard (Twitter link) passes along the team’s initial plan for the veteran’s first appearance.

“We’re going to play him a little bit and see how it goes,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I’m excited about having him be a part of our group and how he can help us.”

Williams agreed to a buyout with Charlotte last week and inked a deal with Milwaukee over the weekend. Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Williams gives the Bucks another viable rotation option, making them an even deeper team, Alex Boeder of NBA.com writes. The former No. 2 overall pick’s shooting from outside should be particularly helpful for Milwaukee.
  • Coach Nick Nurse went on ESPN’s PTI today and was asked about one player behind the Raptors‘ success. Kyle Lowry,” the coach said. “I’ve never seen a guy play harder on the court.”
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post (Twitter link) asked Nets coach Kenny Atkinson if Kyrie Irving will return after the All-Star break and he got an interesting response. “There’s a lot of days and I don’t want to go out and say something that I’d regret later,” Atkinson said. “When we get back, those first couple practices will determine where he is.”

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Eastern Notes: Love, McConnell, Celtics, Raptors

There’s “fresh optimism” that the Cavaliers will be able to deal power forward Kevin Love before next month’s trade deadline, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Love recently expressed frustration regarding his long-term status with the franchise. Love is in the first year of a four-year, $120.4MM extension. He’s averaging 16.5 PPG and 10.6 RPG in 30.6 MPG this season.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Sixers let point guard T.J. McConnell walk in free agency but the Pacers reserve doesn’t harbor ill will toward his previous team, Mark Monteith of the Indianapolis Star relays. McConnell signed a two-year, $7MM with Indiana, though his salary for next season isn’t guaranteed. McConnell recorded his first double-double of the season against his former club with 11 points and 10 assists on Tuesday. “Nothing but respect,” he said of Philadelphia’s organization. “I would never hold any grudges.”
  • Celtics fans should not expect a trade to upgrade the frontcourt, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. It’s unlikely they’ll find a deal for a quality big man that doesn’t involve moving one of the team’s top five players, Forsberg continues. They could add a proven role player before the trade deadline but they might be better off waiting to see which players wind up in the buyout market, Forsberg adds.
  • The Raptors’ quick start puts them in a tricky position regarding the trade market, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated notes. It was generally assumed that Toronto would be a seller with the ability to dangle the expiring contracts of Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka. The one-year extension handed to Kyle Lowry was done in part to make the veteran point guard more tradeable. But now there’s a window for the club to make a run at another championship, Mannix adds.

Atlantic Notes: Lowry, Brown, Miller, Prince

Long-tenured Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry is averaging 20.8 PPG, 7.6 APG, and 5.0 RPG during Toronto’s excellent 22-10 start to the season. That win percentage would translate to 56 regular season victories if Toronto sustained its pace, just a two-game depreciation since losing their 2019 Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard, to the Clippers in the offseason. Lowry and breakout star forward Pascal Siakam have picked up the slack in Leonard’s absence.

The 33 year-old, a five-time All-Star for the Raptors, credits retired point guard Jameer Nelson with helping him navigate the NBA to reach his current position, as one of the most important leaders for one of the league’s best teams.

“Nobody knows this, but to this day, I thank Jameer for helping me get to where I am,” Lowry told The Athletic’s Michael Lee. “Whenever he text[s] me, I text him, I tell him, ‘You’re the reason I even understand how to work.'” In the summer of 2005, following his rookie season for the Magic, Nelson began mentoring Lowry, then coming off his freshman season for Villanova. Lowry has been with the Raptors since the 2012/13 season.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Wing Jaylen Brown, currently enjoying a breakout year for the ascendent Celtics, has a chance to make his first All-Star squad during his fourth season, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg. However, that is hardly Brown’s focus. “I’m not really paying attention to [the All-Star buzz],” Brown claimed after a post-practice workout. “It would be extremely dope to even be mentioned in the conversation. To be honest, I still think I can be a lot better. I think the best is yet to come for me this season.”
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post tracks how new Knicks head coach Mike Miller’s success with the team makes David Fizdale defenders look bad. Berman specifically cites Fizdale’s defensive planning, his unnecessarily rankling players, and not involving all his assistant coaches equally for in-game strategizing. Steve Popper of Newsday concurs that the Knicks’ play has improved under Miller. New York is 5-6 under its new coach; the team was 4-18 under Fizdale this season.
  • Nets forward Taurean Prince is currently shooting a career-worst 37.3% from the field. His shooting struggles have taken their toll on Brooklyn, according to the New York Post’s Mollie Walker. “I think he’s going through a cold spell,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson reflected in post-practice comments on Friday. “I told him today, he’s a 40 percent career 3-point shooter, he’s got to keep shooting.”

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Scott, Nets, Lowry

Ben Simmons made his second career 3-pointer last night, but Sixers coach Brett Brown is looking forward to the day that Simmons’ long-distance shooting isn’t a story anymore, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Brown challenged Simmons to make the 3-pointer a regular part of his arsenal, telling reporters he would like him to shoot at least one every game.

“This is what I want,” Brown said, ”and you can pass it along to his agent, his family and friends. I want a 3-point shot a game, minimum. The pull-up 2s … I’m fine with whatever is open. But I’m interested in the 3-point shot. The mentality that he has where he’s turning corners and taking that long step, that gather step, and bringing his shoulders to the rim and trying to dunk or finish tight, will equal higher efficiency, or getting fouled. That’s the world that interests me the most. Those two things.”

Shortly after signing a five-year extension this summer, Simmons talked about becoming more of an outside shooting threat. That hasn’t materialized so far, as he has taken just four in 21 games.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Mike Scott took advantage of his first start of the season Saturday, delivering 21 points in a win over Cleveland, relays Mike Narducci of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Scott broke out of a shooting slump with nine first-quarter points as the Sixers built a big lead. “Just to try to find something to jump-start him,” Brown said in explaining the lineup change. “He has been down. We need him to be up.”
  • When the Nets signed DeAndre Jordan this summer, they weren’t sure how he was going to fit with Jarrett Allen, but the centers have made the pairing work, observes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Jordan and Allen are the only teammates in the league who rank in the top 10 in effective field goal percentage and rebound percentage. “During the summer, there could’ve been a lot of negative thinking in my head,” Allen said. “… But I took it as a positive. They brought him in, and he’s a great person to learn from — first-team All-Defense — he had a great background and I just tried to learn from him as much as I could.”
  • Kyle Lowry was surprised to learn that he’s the longest-serving active professional athlete in Toronto, notes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star“I thought I was going to be here for a year, two years, and be long gone,” said Lowry, who has played 507 regular season games for the Raptors. “Come up here for business and that’s about it but, at the end of the day, I think the perseverance and the work I’ve put in and the belief the organization has in me means something.”

Injury Updates: Clarke, Lowry, D-Lo, Crabbe, More

Just three days after ruling out Ja Morant with a week-to-week injury, the Grizzlies have done the same with their other prized rookie. Forward Brandon Clarke aggravated a sore left oblique muscle during Sunday’s game and will be sidelined on a week-to-week basis, the team announced today in a press release.

The 6-14 Grizzlies are certainly lottery-bound, but Morant and Clarke have at least been two bright spots – and reasons to keep an eye on the young team in Memphis – so far this season. Clarke has averaged 11.8 PPG and 5.9 RPG with a .630 FG% in 18 games (21.2 MPG). In his absence, the club will presumably lean a little more heavily on bigs like Jaren Jackson Jr., Solomon Hill, and Bruno Caboclo.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Kyle Lowry, who has missed nearly a month with a left thumb injury, will return to the Raptors‘ starting lineup tonight. As Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets, head coach Nick Nurse said he’d like to ease Lowry back in, but the veteran point guard won’t have a specific minutes cap.
  • Another star point guard who has been out with a thumb injury appears to be nearing a return as well. Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets that D’Angelo Russell, who hasn’t played since November 15, has been upgraded to questionable for the Warriors‘ game in Charlotte on Wednesday.
  • Hawks wing Allen Crabbe underwent a non-surgical procedure on his right knee today, according to the team. The club didn’t provide a timeline for Crabbe’s recovery beyond saying he’ll miss Wednesday’s game vs. Brooklyn, but this is the same knee that gave him trouble earlier in the year.
  • A Thunder spokesman said on Tuesday that Andre Roberson will continue his injury rehab process in Los Angeles, away from the team, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Billy Donovan said the decision wasn’t related to a setback or another operation, but the head coach’s comments didn’t sound overly promising. “He can’t get himself back to play, and he just wants to try some other avenues to try to get himself back to play,” Donovan said of Roberson. “He’s gotten to a point, and he can’t get past that point.”
  • Clippers swingman Rodney McGruder remains sidelined with a right hamstring strain, and head coach Doc Rivers said earlier this week that he didn’t believe McGruder was close to returning (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic).

Raptors Notes: Lowry, Ibaka, Ujiri

Kyle Lowry is targeting December 1 for his return to the lineup, Michael Grange of Rogers Sportsnet relays (Twitter link). Lowry hasn’t played for the Raptors since early November because of a thumb injury.

Here’s more from Toronto:

  • There was hope that Serge Ibaka would make his return on Saturday, Grange notes, but the big man will not return from his right ankle injury this weekend. Patrick McCaw, who is recovering from a knee injury, is ahead of schedule but there is still no definite timetable for his return.
  • Trevor Cole of Toronto Life delivers an in-depth profile of Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, detailing the executive’s routines and his path to the top of the organization in Toronto. Ujiri began his career in international scouting.
  • In the same piece, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet provided some insight into what makes Ujiri great. “He values the little things about a person more than just their basketball talent,” said VanVleet.

Raptors Lose Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka To Injuries

The Raptors have ruled out Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka for the foreseeable future due to their respective injuries, announcing the news in a press release on Saturday afternoon.

Lowry will miss at least two weeks after fracturing the distal phalanx of his left thumb, an injury which occurred during the team’s victory over New Orleans on Friday. He’s set to be re-evaluated after the two-week period.

Ibaka suffered a sprained right ankle and is set to undergo additional imaging in Los Angeles. The team is listing him as out indefinitely.

For Lowry, this is the same thumb he had surgery on during the summer to address torn ligaments. However, the fracture is a different tissue. He continued playing through the injury Friday for some time before choosing to exit for good.

“It felt weird from the rip,” Lowry said, according to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez. “I kept playing through it and kept playing through it. Originally we thought it was something in the nailbed because the nailbed turned black and blue. We got some X-rays and we sent the X-rays off to the doctors and there was a small fracture in the thumb.”

Raptors coach Nick Nurse acknowledged that Ibaka’s sprained ankle was “pretty bad” after the game, according to Lopez. Both Lowry and Ibaka are key players in Toronto’s rotation and played integral roles in helping the franchise win its first championship last June.

Toronto currently holds the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 6-2, with upcoming road games scheduled against the Lakers, Clippers, Blazers and Mavericks.

Atlantic Notes: Stevens, Fizdale, Load Management

Brad Stevens‘s new-look Celtics are off to their best start in his tenure as head coach, with a sterling 5-1 record. A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston opines that the Celtics’ winning ways are attributable to five key factors: an easy connection with new point guard Kemba Walker; strong second halves on offense and defense; a relative dearth of contract drama; no idle chatter of Stevens mulling a return to the NCAA; and Stevens’ willingness for self-reflection following the disappointment of the 2018/19 Celtics.

Here’s tonight’s full run-down of Atlantic notes:

  • Marc Berman of The New York Post posits that it’s way too early for Knicks head coach David Fizdale to be on the coaching hot seat. Though the Knicks are tied with the Zion Williamson-free Pelicans at a league-worst 1-6 record, Berman suggests that the front office duo of Knicks president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry have saddled Fizdale with a head-scratching assortment of talent, heavy on mediocre frontcourt pieces but light on outside shooting or clutch end-of-game leadership.
  • In a piece for The Athletic, Frank Isola supports Fizdale’s staunch defense of playing promising Knicks rookie RJ Barrett extended minutes, an argument echoed by former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy and by Barrett himself. “Has anyone stopped to consider that maybe by playing Barrett a lot of minutes David Fizdale is advancing Barrett’s career forward?,” Van Gundy said to Isola. “Is there anyone who really believes that the way you get better is by not playing and by not practicing?”
  • On the other side of the wins-losses spectrum, the Raptors appear to be taking a similar approach to the struggling Knicks when it comes to one hot-button health topic. “I don’t really see much point in (load management) right now for anyone we’ve got,” head coach Nick Nurse said on Monday, per Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun.Kyle [Lowry] will be somebody maybe we do something with down the road, maybe Marc [Gasol] as well. But it’s not really in the forefront of my mind this year like it was last year.” The Raptors famously conserved the play of eventual Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard last season. 33-year-old Lowry is currently leading the league with a heavy 38.8 minutes played per game, while backcourt mate Fred VanVleet is logging 37.8 minutes a night.

Atlantic Notes: Barrett, Siakam, Celtics, Lowry

Following the team’s 104-102 loss to Boston on Friday, Knicks coach David Fizdale praised rookie forward RJ Barrett and the durability he has shown, comparing his attitude to 2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.

“He’s really put together. There’s times he’s not sweating and I’m like, ‘Are you going hard?’” Fizdale said, “But he is. He’s playing really hard. The only other guy I saw who I’ve coached against that doesn’t look like is breaking a sweat is Kawhi. Kawhi doesn’t look like he’s breathing (hard). RJ has that same act where he’s out there, his face doesn’t change and he’s going about his business.’’

Barrett, who was selected by the Knicks third overall in June’s NBA Draft, has averaged 17.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 36.5 minutes through the team’s first six games.

New York sports an intriguing young mix headlined by Barrett and center Mitchell Robinson, though the team’s just 1-6 on the campaign. The Knicks have upcoming games scheduled against Sacramento (2-5), Detroit (3-4) and Dallas (4-2) this week.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Raptors star Pascal Siakam is proving his worth in a leadership role with the team, Matt John of Basketball Insiders writes. Siakam, who signed a four-year, $130MM extension with the team last month, has averaged 26 points and 8.5 rebounds through six games. Toronto is seeking its seventh straight playoff appearance behind Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and others, sporting a competitive group despite losing Leonard in free agency last summer.
  • The Raptors need to find a way to reduce Kyle Lowry‘s workload this season, Laura Armstrong of The Toronto Star writes. Lowry, who turns 34 in March, is in his 14th NBA season and is coming off a campaign in which he averaged 34 minutes per contest.
  • Former Celtics star Paul Pierce believes a weight has been lifted in the absence of Kyrie Irving this season, as relayed by Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald. “I mean, everybody knows that,” Pierce said. “I’m not even in the building yet, and I’m hearing every day that everybody feels like a weight’s been lifted off of them. Just walking around, you can tell. Or just seeing it on the court. It’s different.”