Malachi Flynn

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Rivers, Knicks, Flynn

Sixers guard James Harden was still an elite player in 2021/22, but his numbers began trending in the wrong direction and he appeared to have lost the explosive first step that defined his MVP-caliber seasons, writes Tommy Beer of

With Harden set to turn 33 this summer, giving him a long-term, maximum-salary contract could cripple the Sixers and would be borderline “organizational malpractice,” Beer argues. Still, Philadelphia can’t afford to let him walk, since doing so wouldn’t actually open up any meaningful cap room and the team is under pressure to maximize Joel Embiid‘s prime.

As Beer outlines, it will be fascinating to see how those contract discussions play out this offseason, since both sides have some leverage concerns. The Sixers can’t afford to lose Harden, but it will be difficult for the former MVP to play hardball in negotiations, considering none of the teams projected to have cap room are expected to seriously pursue him.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has made it clear that the plan is for Doc Rivers to remain the head coach going forward, prompting Kyle Neubeck of to consider whether that decision is the right one for the franchise.
  • Former Knicks center Eddy Curry has confidence in the abilities of executives Leon Rose and William Wesley to turn things around in New York, writes Ian Begley of Curry said Knicks fans shouldn’t focus on Rose’s lack of public statements and press conferences, since it’s “not his personality” to be in the public eye. “Regardless of how often you see him, you better believe he’s making things happen behind closed doors,” said Curry, who worked with Rose and Wesley during his playing career.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic wonders if Raptors point guard Malachi Flynn could benefit from a change of scenery and identifies some other players in a similar boat whom Toronto could target in a potential Flynn trade, including Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, and Udoka Azubuike.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a series of Celtics notes earlier today.

Raptors Notes: Barnes, VanVleet, Anunoby, Flynn, Siakam

Rookie Scottie Barnes may be the fulcrum on which the Raptors‘ future balances, according to Michael Grange of Sportnet. Barnes was stellar during the team’s current five-game winning streak, with all the victories coming on the road.

Barnes is an extremely versatile player who epitomizes the positionless nature of the modern NBA. With long arms and a relentless motor, the 20-year-old has an uncanny knack for the ball.

If you’re a guy who has a nose for the basketball that means usually you have good anticipation about what’s coming ahead of time, before it happens,” head coach Nick Nurse said of Barnes. “Guys that seem to end up where the ball ends up, that takes, I think, an anticipation or a thinking ahead or just playing a lot. I know he’s 20 but we’ve talked about all the stories of they could never get him out of the gym, he was always playing pickup in multiple age groups … he’s played a lot I think to acquire that sense.”

Barnes is one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year; through 61 games (35.6 MPG), all starts, he’s averaging 15.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.2 SPG and 0.8 BPG on .490/.316/.732 shooting.

At 39-30, Toronto currently has the same record as Cleveland, but the Cavs hold the tiebreaker for the sixth seed in the East.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Fred VanVleet‘s maturity makes him the emotional leader of the Raptors, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “Obviously me being the leader and the point guard out there, it’s my job to be the calming presence. Sometimes I do a good job of that, sometimes I don’t. But for the most part, I’m glad with his team’s disposition and whether things are good or bad or up or down, we’ve done a great job of sticking together,” VanVleet said. “I think it just speaks to our chemistry. … We’re (able to have) honest, open communication. And that helps a lot. There are a lot of runs in a game and different things throughout the season, and you got to be able to just stay even-keeled throughout.” The first-time All-Star and 2019 NBA champion has been struggling with a knee injury, but he’s still serving as a mentor and leader for the young Toronto squad, as Koreen details.
  • OG Anunoby will miss at least one more week due to his fractured right ring finger, which still isn’t fully healed, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. He’ll be reevaluated again next week.
  • Malachi Flynn had a small tear in his left hamstring, per Lewenberg (Twitter link). Flynn suffered the injury two weeks ago and was ruled out indefinitely, but the hamstring is almost healed and Nurse says Flynn might be back in about a week.
  • Count Lakers head coach Frank Vogel as an admirer of Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, as Grange relays (via Twitter). “He’s one of the best players in the league in my opinion,” Vogel said of Siakam. The 27-year-old is having an outstanding season, averaging 22.0 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 5.1 APG, and 1.3 SPG on .486/.358/.744 shooting through 56 games (37.6 MPG) this season.

Raptors’ Malachi Flynn Out Indefinitely With Hamstring Strain

Raptors point guard Malachi Flynn is out indefinitely after suffering a strained left hamstring, the team announced. The injury occurred during Toronto’s 103-97 loss to Orlando Friday night. He had a season-high 20 points and tied a season high with eight assists in the game.

It’s a very unfortunate setback for the second-year guard, who’s had arguably the best four-game stretch of his young career filling in for injured All-Star Fred VanVleet. In Flynn’s past four games, all starts, he averaged 16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.0 steal per game on .571/.500/.556 shooting. Remarkably, he only had one turnover across the four contests, good for a 22/1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Flynn, 23, was the 29th overall pick of the 2020 draft. He has struggled to crack Toronto’s rotation this season, but coach Nick Nurse recently praised his effort and gave Flynn significant playing time — 35.6 minutes per night — in VanVleet’s absence.

Strangely, Flynn had previously been listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Cleveland, but now he’s out indefinitely, Michael Grange of Sportsnet observes (via Twitter). As Grange notes, it’s terrible timing for both the player and the team, as the Raptors have an extremely difficult schedule coming up, with eight of their next nine games on the road, mostly against teams vying for the playoffs.

With Flynn and VanVleet both sidelined, rookie Dalano Banton and the newly-signed Armoni Brooks could get extended playing time for the Raptors, currently 34-29, seventh in the East.

Atlantic Notes: Flynn, Sixers, Tatum, Celtics

Raptors backup point guard Malachi Flynn has stepped up in the absence of All-Star Fred VanVleet, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Flynn had an outstanding game on Monday against the Nets, putting up 18 points on 11 shots with four rebounds, five assists, two steals and zero turnovers in 34 minutes. He finished a game-high plus-42.

He played great,” said head coach Nick Nurse.Malachi kept his head up, kept his head in it and when he’s had any opportunities, whether it’s first half, second half, garbage, whatever, he’s played with what I consider some IQ, some toughness, some organization and that’s what led us to that decision [to start Flynn] tonight.”

The second-year guard has struggled to crack the team’s rotation this season, but he’s finally getting the chance to show what he can do with VanVleet sidelined with a knee contusion that’s been bothering him since before the All-Star break.

I think my main thing is just trying to be aggressive — not necessarily to score or to pass, just being aggressive and seeing what the defense gives you and just kind of reading them and then going off of that,” Flynn said, per Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

Flynn had another strong performance during Friday’s 103-97 loss to Orlando, notching 20 points, three rebounds, eight assists and zero turnovers in 39 minutes.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • The Sixers dared to dream big and it’s paying off, according to Dan Devine of The Ringer. James Harden has created easier shots for the entire team, including MVP candidate Joel Embiid, and second-year guard Tyrese Maxey has been outstanding. The Sixers have won five straight (four with Harden) and hold a 39-23 record after defeating the Cavs 125-119 on Friday. Philadelphia has jumped up to the No. 2 seed in the East.
  • Star Jayson Tatum has stepped up and become a vocal leader for the Celtics, per Taylor Snow of “He has taken a step forward in that regard,” said Al Horford. “He is being more vocal. He’s letting us know what he’s thinking, how he’s feeling. For me, it gives me a lot of confidence, and it’s encouraging to know that he has my back. He’s obviously really trying to win, he’s trying to do things the right way … Seeing him that excited, that engaged, it’s a good sign for our group.”
  • The Celtics remained patient with head coach Ime Udoka and now they’re reaping the rewards, Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe writes. Udoka was recently named the Eastern Conference’s coach of the month for February after leading Boston to an 9-2 record. It’s taken time for the players to adjust to Udoka’s hard-line coaching style. “That’s what really matters, that they’re letting us coach them,” Udoka said, per Washburn. “They’re letting us push them and learning and growing throughout the season and kind of what we thought we’d have when we got healthy. Credit to them for allowing us to coach them hard. That’s what they asked for and they’ve been great with it.”

COVID-19 Roundup: Raptors, Kings, Thunder, Knicks

The hits keep coming for the NBA. While some good news has arrived regarding the health status of a handful of players, several more have been sidelined in the league’s coronavirus protocols. Here are the newest developments concerning which players have entered or exited the health and safety protocols:

  • Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa and point guard Malachi Flynn have exited the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN. Lewenberg notes that power forward Pascal Siakam and wing Gary Trent Jr., who cleared protocols yesterday, have been listed as probable ahead of Toronto’s game against the Sixers this evening. Center Khem Birch, who also cleared protocols yesterday, remains questionable to play, as do Achiuwa and Flynn. Following this news, the total sum of Raptors players still in the league’s COVID-19 protocols has fallen to five.
  • Kings center Alex Len has exited the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, per James Ham of ESPN 1320 (via Twitter). Because the 7-footer has not played a game since December 15, Ham notes that Len remains questionable to play tonight against the Thunder.
  • Thunder center Derrick Favors is now in the league’s coronavirus protocols, reports Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. Favors is the sixth Oklahoma City player currently in COVID-19 protocols. Head coach Mark Daigneault also entered the protocols today.
  • The Knicks have announced (Twitter link) that little-used guard Wayne Selden has entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols. The 6’5″ veteran wing has not been a part of the rotation this season for New York, having suited up for just three games thus far.
  • Keep tabs on all the NBA’s current coronavirus absences via our daily tracker.

Raptors To Sign Tremont Waters; VanVleet, Flynn In Protocols

The Raptors have placed point guards Fred VanVleet and Malachi Flynn in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Toronto now has five players in the protocols, including three starters.

In order to address the newly-created hole in their backcourt, the Raptors intend to sign G League guard Tremont Waters to a 10-day contract via the hardship exception, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Toronto also reportedly lined up hardship deals with Brandon Goodwin, Juwan Morgan, and Nik Stauskas on Monday, so Waters will be their fourth 10-day addition. None of those deals are official yet.

Waters, who will turn 24 next month, was selected by the Celtics with the 51st overall pick in the 2019 draft and spent his first two professional seasons as a two-way player in Boston. After the C’s opted not to bring him back for the 2021/22 season, he joined the Wisconsin Herd – Milwaukee’s G League affiliate – and has averaged 17.2 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 2.7 SPG on .421/.364/.714 shooting in 13 NBAGL games (31.5 MPG) this season.

Due to the NBA’s new temporary roster rules, Waters’ deal won’t count against Toronto’s team salary for cap or tax purposes.

Atlantic Notes: Griffin, Flynn, VanVleet, McBride, Sixers

Blake Griffin has struggled mightily for the Nets so far this season, and it’s having a detrimental impact on the team, according to Mark W. Sanchez of the New York Post.

Sanchez notes that Griffin has gone 0-for-18 from deep over his last 5 games. Head coach Steve Nash says Griffin has had open shots, but hasn’t been able to convert.

He’s just having a funk. I think he’s got good looks, but I think he just hasn’t been in a good rhythm,” Nash said of Griffin’s shooting before the Nets met the Cavaliers at Barclays Center. “People go through stretches like that.”

Through 14 games, Griffin has a shooting line of .312/.173/.696 while averaging 5.9 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 2.0 assists in 22.6 minutes per game. Last season in 26 games with the Nets, Griffin averaged 10.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists in 21.6 minutes per game, with a shooting slash line of .492/.383/.782.

Sanchez opines that Griffin has had mixed results on the defensive end, but hasn’t done enough to make up for the poor shooting. He’s excellent at drawing charges (league-leading 11 prior to Wednesday’s games), but lacks the foot speed to consistently switch, and after a series of knee injuries, isn’t a great rim protector.

Griffin will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Second-year guard Malachi Flynn has mostly been out of the Raptors‘ rotation this season, and whether he should get more minutes is a complicated question, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Smith notes that the Raptors have struggled with shooting and on defense recently, and he thinks Flynn is better at those two areas than backup rookie point guard Dalano Banton. However, Smith opines that another change to the rotation might be rough for a team struggling with consistency. Flynn says he’s putting the onus on himself to show the team he’s worthy of more playing time. “I’m not pointing the finger at anybody. I’m taking it upon myself. What can I do to help myself? That’s the only thing I can control. It’s definitely easier said than done, but that’s what I’m trying to do,” Flynn said.
  • In a separate article, Smith writes that Fred VanVleet has become the vocal leader of the Raptors after Kyle Lowry‘s departure. VanVleet says he always comes from a place of respect and winning. “I’m not always right, but my heart’s in the right place and I can usually live with myself knowing that I try to respect the guys as men first. We’re all equal in the locker room. We all say: We want to win, and any conversation after that we’ll figure it out,” VanVleet said.
  • Head coach Tom Thibodeau was effusive in his praise of Knicks rookie Miles McBride, tweets Marc Berman of the New York Post. McBride was recently assigned to the G League to get minutes. I love him, I love him. I think it’s important for him to be with us but every opportunity we get where we can have him play some, we want to try to take advantage of that as well. But he’s got a great future, great kid, hard worker,” Thibodeau said.
  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Sixers coach Doc Rivers isn’t panicking about the team’s five game losing streak. “There’s nobody here worried,” Rivers said. “It’s just a long season. When you have the injuries that we have and the games that we’ve played … listen, I want to win every game. But I do understand what we’re under right now, too.”

Raptors Notes: VanVleet, Ujiri, Flynn, Injuries

Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, one of just three holdovers from Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan era, is trying to lead a rebuilding Raptors squad much the same way DeRozan did alongside Kyle Lowry years ago, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

DeRozan paid his first visit to his old club as a Bull, proving that he remains an absolutely clutch scorer to close out games. The Bulls would go on to win, 111-108.

“This is a new dynamic,” DeRozan said of how VanVleet has evolved to become the Raptors’ leader. “The conversations I have with Fred now, (leading a rebuilding team) is a new dynamic in your career that you have to figure out. It’s tough. But every great player goes through it. There’s not too many guys that just have a polished career. It’s another obstacle you can learn from and build on and turn you into a much better player than you even knew you had in you.”

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • The current Raptors ownership group, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, has a convoluted structure, but it has ultimately enabled team president Masai Ujiri to run the organization as he sees fit, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. The various factions of the ownership group reportedly disagreed on the terms of Ujiri’s new contract, but that deal eventually got done earlier this year.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse explained the lack of playing time for guard Malachi Flynn, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link). “There’s a Fred and there’s a Goran (Dragić) and we’ve given (rookie Dalano Banton) a run,” Nurse said. “And Dalano’s the one you should probably be asking me about. He’s played outstanding every minute he’s been out there. You guys should be all over me for not playing him more.” It sounds like it could be an uphill battle for Flynn to crack the club’s point guard rotation.
  • Injured Raptors forward Pascal Siakam was a full participant in the team’s practice today, and will join the club’s NBAGL affiliate, Raptors 905, to continue to work off the rust in their training camp, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN (via Twitter). Siakam has missed the team’s first three games with a shoulder injury. Small forward Yuta Watanabe also practiced with Toronto today and is considered to be nearing a return for the team, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Grange adds that Siakam might be on track to rejoin Toronto earlier than the initially-anticipated target date of mid-to-late November.

Raptors Exercise 2022/23 Options On Achiuwa, Flynn

The Raptors have exercised their third-year team options on big man Precious Achiuwa and guard Malachi Flynn, the team announced today in a press release. Both options are for the 2022/23 season.

Achiuwa, the 20th overall pick in the 2020 draft, averaged 5.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 61 games (12.1 MPG) for the Heat as a rookie last season. He was dealt to the Raptors this summer along with Goran Dragic in the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade. His 2022/23 option will pay him approximately $2.84MM.

Flynn, selected nine spots after Achiuwa at No. 29 in last year’s draft, averaged 7.5 PPG and 2.9 APG in 47 games (19.7 MPG) in his rookie year. He saw most of his playing time in the second half when Lowry was sidelined, and could take on a more regular role this season with the six-time All-Star no longer in the picture, though veteran point guards Fred VanVleet and Dragic are still ahead of him on the depth chart. Flynn’s ’22/23 option is worth about $2.15MM.

Teams have until November 1 to pick up their 2022/23 rookie scale options on first-round picks from the 2019 and 2020 drafts. We’re tracking all the decisions right here.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Smart, Simmons, Flynn

James Harden, who is expected to discuss a contract extension with the Nets before the season begins, is changing representation, according to Jordan Schultz of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Schultz reports, Harden is parting ways with agents Jason Ranne and Chafie Fields of Wasserman, who had a hand in facilitating the trade that sent the All-Star guard to the Nets. Harden’s new agent will be his friend and business manager Lorenzo McCloud, according to Schultz, who says the NBPA will have a hand in Harden’s representation as well.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The trade kicker in Marcus Smart‘s new extension with the Celtics will be worth either $1MM or 15% of his remaining contract, whichever is lesser, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Based on the terms of Smart’s deal, $1MM should always be the lesser amount, so that’s the amount of the bonus he’d receive if he’s traded.
  • Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer takes a look at where things stand with Ben Simmons, suggesting that if the Sixers are willing to hang onto the All-Star guard through the offseason rather than trading him, it signals a belief in their culture and development program.
  • After spending his rookie season learning from veteran point guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, Raptors guard Malachi Flynn is prepared to take on a more significant role behind VanVleet in 2021/22, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Flynn would be in line for an even bigger bump in minutes if Toronto ends up trading Goran Dragic.