Lucas Nogueira

Lucas Nogueira To Sign With Spanish Team

Former Raptors center Lucas Nogueira will play in the Spanish League next season, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Nogueira is signing a deal today to play for Montakit Fuenlabrada, Carchia adds, and an official announcement is expected soon.

Nogueira spent the past four years in Toronto, but didn’t receive a qualifying offer when the season ended. That made him an unrestricted free agent, but there wasn’t much NBA interest in the 26-year-old. His fate in Toronto was sealed when the Raptors signed veteran big man Greg Monroe last month.

Nogueira peaked during the 2016/17 season when he averaged 4.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 57 games while playing about 19 minutes per night. His playing time was cut in half last season and he appeared in just 49 games.

Raptors Sign Greg Monroe

AUGUST 13: While the Raptors haven’t yet issued a press release confirming the move, Monroe has officially signed with the club, per the NBA’s transactions log.

AUGUST 6: Free agent center Greg Monroe has agreed to a contract with the Raptors, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

Monroe will get a one-year, $2.2MM deal, Charania adds (Twitter link) and will move from one Eastern Conference contender to another after finishing last season with the Celtics. Monroe will fill the backup center slot, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link), who reported Toronto’s interest in Monroe last week.

The Raptors had their $5.3MM mid-level exception available, but are concerned about adding to their luxury tax bill. Toronto already had more than $137MM committed for next season before adding Monroe. He will become the 14th player on the roster with a fully or partially guaranteed contract.

An eight-year veteran, Monroe averaged 10.3 points and 6.9 rebounds last season while splitting time between the Bucks, Suns and Celtics. He was sent from Milwaukee to Phoenix in November as part of the Eric Bledsoe deal, then signed with the Celtics in February after agreeing to a buyout.

The addition of Monroe may signal the end of the Raptors’ relationship with Lucas Nogueira, who has been with the organization for the past four seasons. The free agent center got into 49 games last year and scored 2.5 points per night.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. 

Raptors Interested In Greg Monroe

Free agent center Greg Monroe could be a candidate to fill a roster opening in Toronto, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.

Monroe, who spent time with the Bucks, Suns and Celtics last season, would give the Raptors an experienced low-post scorer and add to their frontcourt depth. Although his playing time was inconsistent last year, Monroe still averaged 10.3 points and 6.9 rebounds in 51 games.

Toronto has a $5.3MM mid-level exception available, but Lewenberg notes that the franchise is already well into luxury tax territory and may prefer to fill out its roster with a veteran’s minimum contract. The team has 13 players with fully or partially guaranteed deals, and NBA rules require teams to carry at least 14 on their rosters.

Another possibility is re-signing free agent center Lucas Nogueira, although Lewenberg sees that as unlikely. Nogueira, who has spent his entire four-year career in Toronto, appeared in 49 games last season, averaging 2.5 points per night.

The team may also consider Chris Boucher, who held a two-way contract with the Warriors last season and appeared in one NBA game. Boucher will be in training camp on an Exhibit 10 deal and impressed new coach Nick Nurse during summer league, especially when he was used at center. Lewenberg states that the Raptors won’t rush to fill their roster opening, so Boucher may get a chance to audition for the spot in camp.

Raptors Issue QOs To VanVleet, Miller, De Colo

The Raptors have extended qualifying offers to Fred VanVleet, Malcolm Miller, and Nando De Colo, ensuring that all three players will become restricted free agents, the team announced today (via Twitter).

VanVleet, the most notable of the three players, had a breakout season for the Raptors in 2017/18. The leader of the team’s second unit, VanVleet averaged 8.6 PPG and 3.2 APG with a .414 3PT% and was a finalist for the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award. His qualifying offer is worth just under $1.7MM.

As Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca detailed earlier today, the Raptors are wary of a rival suitor back-loading an offer sheet to VanVleet via the Arenas provision. However, if the 24-year-old doesn’t receive any over-the-top offers from other teams, there’s a good chance he’ll remain in Toronto on a new multiyear deal.

Miller was on a two-way contract with the Raptors in 2017/18, so his QO will be a one-year, two-way contract offer with a $50K guarantee.

As for De Colo, he hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2013/14 season, but the Raptors have retained the right of first refusal on the 31-year-old since then by issuing qualifying offers each year. De Colo seems unlikely to return to the NBA at this point, given his success overseas — the CSKA Moscow guard has earned First Team All-EuroLeague honors for three straight seasons. As such, the Raps’ QO looks like a mere formality.

The only Raptors player eligible for restricted free agency who didn’t receive a qualifying offer today is Lucas Nogueira. The team has a couple more days to issue a QO if it changes its mind, but it appears Nogueira will become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins.

Atlantic Notes: Bird, Nogueira, Raptors, Sixers

After barely playing for the Celtics this season, two-way player Jabari Bird has averaged 22.8 MPG in Boston’s last two games, posting 12.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 2.5 APG while shooting 11-of-15 from the field. Despite his solid play lately, Bird won’t be postseason-eligible for the Celtics unless the team converts his two-way contract into a standard deal. And to do that, the C’s would have to waive one of their 15 players with guaranteed contracts.

There are no obvious expendable pieces on the Celtics’ roster, so the idea of Bird joining the team for the postseason may be a long shot. For his part, the rookie tells A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston that he’s focused on playing hard during the regular season and “trying to control what I can control.” Brad Stevens also deferred on the topic of Bird becoming playoff-eligible, but had praise for the youngster.

“Those aren’t my discussions or my job,” the Celtics head coach said of Bird’s contract situation. “But at the end of the day, I think he is playing well. He’s doing some good things. I thought offensively he was pretty good, especially early. He’s done a good job in the last couple of games and will probably play some of the next two.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Raptors center Lucas Nogueira will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer, but a qualifying offer “seems unlikely,” writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. That’s probably a reflection of Toronto’s cap situation and depth chart rather than an indication of how much the team likes Nogueira. He falls behind Jonas Valanciunas and Jakob Poeltl at center for the Raptors, who also sometimes use Serge Ibaka at the five.
  • Much has been made of the Raptors‘ “culture reset” within the last year, but what exactly did that culture reset consist of? Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca attempts to pull back the curtain, writing that the culture change in Toronto isn’t just about the club’s reworked offense. “The culture change is about the whole organization. It’s not about offense and defense,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “Believe me, when [president Masai Ujiri] mentioned that, it was about all of us. Everything we do. From scouting, training, how we go about our day in the front office, it’s included in that.”
  • The Sixers are the NBA’s hottest team right now, but there are still questions about how the club will look in the playoffs. Sarah Todd of Philly.com explores the potential postseason roles for Markelle Fultz and T.J. McConnell, while David Murphy of Philly.com wonders how much responsibility – and how many minutes – Ben Simmons will be asked to handle.

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Toronto Raptors

Last summer, the Raptors made the decision to commit to the core that powered them to four consecutive playoff berths. As a result, the organization is somewhat financially handcuffed for the foreseeable future.

Given such financial constraints – the team already has $126MM on its books for 2018/19 – Toronto will need continue to rely heavily on the starters that the roster has been built around.

That said, a conscious decision to speed up the game has helped the team show signs of growth in other areas, and in addition to an impressive starting five, the Raps suddenly boast one of the more intriguing second units in the league.

While many of Toronto’s key rotation players are under team control through 2018/19 and beyond, not all of them are, and retaining each and every one of them may prove difficult.

Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors verticalFred VanVleet, PG, 24 (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $1.8MM deal in 2016
The undrafted guard out of Wichita State has proved to be one of the driving factors behind Toronto’s impressive second unit. His ability to handle the offense and knock down threes has helped facilitate the Raps’ transition from an iso-heavy squad to one that swings the ball and gets everybody involved. While VanVleet may have been the team’s No. 3 point guard to start the season, early returns from 2017/18 show that there is plenty of room in the rotation for both VanVleet and Delon Wright. For tax reasons, don’t expect the Raps to break the bank for the restricted free agent, but it’s a safe bet that the sharpshooter will land a bigger deal than his first NBA contract. Even if that doesn’t happen in Toronto.

Bruno Caboclo, SF, 22 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $7MM deal in 2014
Toronto’s famously raw project hasn’t quite shown the growth that members of the team’s front office hoped they’d see when they inexplicably drafted him with their 2014 first-round pick. Caboclo remains as tantalizing a physical prospect as any, but hasn’t even reached a point where he can thrive in the G League on a consistent basis. There may still be some glimmer of promise in the 22-year-old out of Brazil, but again, the Raps may not want to venture further into luxury tax territory to chase it.

Lucas Nogueira, C, 25 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $8.5MM deal in 2014
While he may have a ceiling as a high-energy reserve, Nogueira’s length and athleticism can be a plus for team’s looking to add cheap frontcourt depth. Nogueira will be a restricted free agent in the summer and could well find a team interested in taking a flyer on him. In that scenario, it won’t be hard for opposing teams to outbid the Raptors, especially considering that they’ve had success with Jakob Poeltl serving as the team’s primary backup big.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Injury Notes: Fultz, Dunn, Blazers, J. Hernangomez

While we at Hoops Rumors tend to avoid extensively covering day-to-day injuries and other minor ailments, we do make an effort to pass along word of slightly longer-term injuries that could have an impact on a team’s rotation or roster.

Markelle Fultz‘ shoulder issue doesn’t fit that bill yet, but it sounds like it might at some point. As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports, agent Raymond Brothers confirmed that Fultz has had fluid drained from his right shoulder and plans to visit a specialist soon.

“He literally cannot raise up his arms to shoot the basketball,” Brothers said of his client. “He decided to try and fight through the pain to help the team. He has a great attitude. We are committed to finding a solution to get Markelle back to 100 percent.”

Considering how cautious the Sixers have been in recent years with injuries, it’s somewhat surprising that Fultz is playing at all for the team to start the season. However, according to Wojnarowski, no decision has been made yet for this year’s first overall pick to miss games. The 76ers are weighing their options, says Sarah Todd of Philly.com.

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

  • Kris Dunn, who has yet to make his debut for the Bulls, will come off the bench when he returns to the court, head coach Fred Hoiberg said today (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune). Dunn is expected to play his first game for Chicago on either Thursday or Saturday.
  • Entering a contract year, Noah Vonleh is targeting a November 1 return from shoulder surgery, writes Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. That would give the Trail Blazers a fully healthy NBA roster, though two-way player C.J. Wilcox will be sidelined for a while — the team announced in a press release that Wilcox is expected to miss six to eight weeks after undergoing a successful arthroscopy on his right knee.
  • Nuggets forward Juan Hernangomez has been diagnosed with mononucleosis, the team confirmed on Tuesday in a press release. There’s no specific timeline for Hernangomez’ return yet, but according to the Nuggets, he didn’t travel with the club on its current four-game road trip.
  • Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas, frustrated by an ankle injury, is hoping to rejoin the club on its current six-game road trip, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. In the meantime, Lucas Nogueira, who is in a contract year, will enjoy an increased role, Smith notes in a separate article.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Raptors, Oakley, Lin

Sixers center Joel Embiid claims he’s “more surprised than everybody else” how well this season has gone after he was sidelined two seasons by foot injuries. During the interview with ESPN Radio, Embiid admits he entertained thoughts of retiring during those lost seasons. “I was such in a dark place, I wanted to quit basketball,” Embiid said.  “I just wanted to go back home and just leave everything behind.” Embiid pines for the Rookie of the Year award, saying it would be validation for the sacrifices he made to get back on the court. He’s hopeful of returning soon after the All-Star break after missing the last 11 games with what he describes as a left knee bone bruise, though he reportedly has a partial meniscus tear.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The  Raptors do not want to part with young assets now that they’ve made a big move by acquiring power forward Serge Ibaka, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. Toronto would prefer to hold onto Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira, Pascal Siakam, Norm Powell and Fred VanVleet, Smith continues. They could still package Jared Sullinger‘s expiring contract, a 2017 first-rounder and one of their backup point guards to make another move, Smith adds.
  • Charles Oakley doubts his issues with Knicks owner James Dolan will ever be resolved, Newsday’s Jim Baumbach relays via a Sports Illustrated interview. Despite a meeting with commissioner Adam Silver and Dolan earlier this week, Oakley is still fuming over his forcible removal from Madison Square Garden and arrest on February 8th.  “My life is going to change a lot because it’s just like getting a DUI sometime or going to jail for murder,” he told SI. “It’s something on my record. If you Google my name, it’s going to come up. And that hurts.”
  • Nets point guard Jeremy Lin is expected to return to action immediately after the All-Star break, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. Lin practiced on Tuesday without any setbacks, according to NetsDaily.com. Lin’s season has been wrecked by hamstring woes. Signed to a three-year, $36MM contract last summer to be the team’s No. 1 point guard, Lin has appeared in just 12 games.

Raptors Notes: Ibaka, Ujiri, Biyombo, Powell

Power forward Serge Ibaka, who was acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Magic, won’t be making his Raptors debut tonight, the team announced (Twitter link). Ibaka passed his physical and was available for the game, but Michael Grange of Rogers SportsNet tweets that Toronto coach Dwane Casey decided to hold him out after today’s walkthrough, citing a hectic past 36 hours. Ibaka’s first game in a Raptors uniform will take place after the All-Star break on February 24th.

There’s more news out of Toronto:

  • The Ibaka deal raises the stakes for the Raptors, Grange writes in a full story. Ibaka fills an obvious need for Toronto and immediately becomes the organization’s most experienced postseason player. Grange calls it a risk-free trade and notes that Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira have made most of the starts at power forward this season after having a combined seven career starts coming into this year. “I think our team needed a boost, to be honest,” said team president Masai Ujiri“and we’re at that point where I think everybody knows, it’s not rocket science, that [a starting power forward] was a missing link on our team.”
  • Ibaka said he heard great things about Toronto from former Magic teammate Bismack Biyombo long before the trade took place, relays Josh Lewenburg of TSN Sports (Twitter link). Biyombo spent last season with the Raptors before signing with Orlando in July. “He always told me stories,” Ibaka said. “… He loves it here.”
  • Second-year shooting guard Norman Powell can expect more playing time with Ross gone, according to Lewenburg (Twitter link). However, Casey wants Powell to concentrate more on defense and less on shooting than Ross did. Powell is averaging about 17 minutes and 7.2 points through 52 games.

Atlantic Notes: McConnell, Rose, Nogueira

The Sixers have rejected a trade offer from the Cavaliers that would have sent starting point guard T.J. McConnell to the defending champions, says Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The proposed Philly-bound package was said to have included Jordan McRae.

McConnell has become a significant part of the Sixers’ rotation of late, averaging 7.5 points and 8.9 assists per game in January. The Cavs are in the market for a backup point guard, at least according to LeBron James, so it’s not surprising to hear that they’ve inquired about the 24-year-old sophomore.

Under contract for just $800K, McConnell has quickly become one of the best bargains in the NBA. His role in the Sixers’ recent success — the team has won 10 of their past 14 — is one of the major reasons why he’s become a possible trade target ahead of the February 23 trade deadline.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • After a healthy first few months of the season, Derrick Rose has come up limping. The point guard sprained his ankle Friday night and has been wearing a protective walking boot. According to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN, Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek is doubtful he’ll see the guard return before Tuesday.
  • Though they lost Bismack Biyombo to free agency over the summer, the Raptors have a suitable replacement in Lucas Nogueira, says Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun. Nogueira rivals Biyombo in terms of rim protection, Ganter says, but their playing styles deviate from there. Nogueira’s offensive awareness and soft hands are traits Biyombo never displayed in Toronto.
  • The fact that the Celtics need to improve their rebounding is not lost on general manager Danny Ainge, says A. Sherrod Blakeley of CSN New England. “I knew going into the year that rebounding would be an issue for us,” Ainge said. The reporter adds that Ainge wasn’t ready to start discussing possible trade scenarios, however.