Marc Gasol

Atlantic Notes: Gasol, Ibaka, Jordan, Nets, Sixers

After getting two injured players – Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell – back on Sunday, the Raptors will get more reinforcements on Wednesday, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, who tweets that Marc Gasol is set to return to the team. The big man has been sidelined since December 18 due to a hamstring injury.

With Gasol healthy again, the Raptors will have a decision to make. Gasol was the team’s starting center before going on the injured list, but Serge Ibaka has been playing some of his best basketball in years during Gasol’s absence, averaging 18.1 PPG and 10.3 RPG with a .541 FG% and a .441 3PT% in 12 games as a starter.

According to Raptors lead assistant coach Adrian Griffin, head coach Nick Nurse will make the decision on who will start at center (Twitter link via Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun). Nurse likes to experiment with his lineups and may try different combinations when Gasol returns, but I’d be surprised if the former Defensive Player of the Year doesn’t reclaim his starting spot, either right away or down the road.

Gasol and Ibaka are on expiring contracts, so both veteran Raptors centers will be motivated to finish the season strong.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • In an interesting piece for ESPN.com, Malika Andrews of ESPN.com examines how DeAndre Jordan‘s gregarious personality and positive locker-room presence factored into the Nets‘ decision to invest $40MM in him this past summer. “We knew we were wading through some uncharted waters where we’ve never been before — where expectations are a little bit bigger,” GM Sean Marks said. “To have a guy like DJ, who can hopefully keep the mood light behind the scenes is — it’s really important.”
  • Within Andrews’ article, Marks acknowledged that the Nets expect to become a taxpaying team next season. The GM suggested that Brooklyn’s investment in Jordan was related to the fact that 2019 was one of the last opportunities the club will have for a while to use cap room. “We’re going to be a tax team,” Marks said. “We are married to that. There’s a limited amount of times and ways you can continue to add to your team. You better do it now. You’re gearing up for a run.”
  • Derek Bodner and Rich Hofmann of The Athletic list 19 potential trade targets for the Sixers at the deadline, including some backup fours, catch-and-shoot players, and combo guards. Meanwhile, David Aldridge of The Athletic makes the case for why acquiring another point guard should be the 76ers’ top priority in trade talks.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Siakam, Gallinari, C’s, Sixers

While some pundits still believe the Raptors might target future assets at the deadline, that’s clearly not the plan, according to Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star, who argues that the team should prioritize upgrading its roster and securing its spot among the Eastern Conference contenders.

Before the Raptors make any roster changes, it would benefit the front office to see the team’s full roster in action, something that hasn’t happened much this season. Currently, four of Toronto’s top six players in minutes per game – Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Norman Powell, and Fred VanVleet – are sidelined, but the club may begin to clear its injured list soon.

Siakam, Gasol, and Powell all took part in practice on Friday on a limited basis, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski hears that there’s hope Siakam could be back in the lineup within the next week or so. A Sunday return would be a bit ambitious for Siakam or Gasol, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said today, but Powell is on track to be back on Sunday (Twitter link via Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca).

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Danilo Gallinari is among the potential trade targets the Celtics have monitored, a source tells Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Pincus lays out how Boston could acquire a player like Gallinari or Andre Drummond, but since it would almost certainly involve moving Gordon Hayward or a package headed by Marcus Smart, I’m skeptical the C’s will seriously pursue either player.
  • The Sixers were victorious on Thursday in the first game of what could be a multi-week absence for Joel Embiid, but Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports argues the team should still be worried about not having its star center active. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Bobby Marks point out (via Twitter) that Norvel Pelle only has five NBA days left on his two-way contract and will have to return to the G League soon if Philadelphia doesn’t open up a 15-man roster spot for him.
  • After Kawhi Leonard denied having any offseason interest in the Knicks, the club found a way to put a positive spin on those comments, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. According to Berman, Kawhi’s uncle Dennis Robertson was in touch with the Knicks in the summer and wanted Leonard to listen to the team’s pitch. The Knicks claimed they canceled their scheduled meeting because they felt they were long shots for Leonard and believe the forward’s recent comments validate that decision, Berman notes.

Atlantic Notes: LeVert, Irving, Siakam, Gasol, Leonard

Nets guard Caris LeVert made his highly-anticipated return against the Raptors on Saturday night, seeing his first in-game action with the team since November 10.

LeVert, who had missed the last 24 games after undergoing surgery to address ligament damage in his thumb, finished with 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting off the bench despite being on a minutes restriction.

“I felt pretty good out there. Obviously we wanted to get a win, but just me personally, I felt pretty good,” LeVert said, as relayed by Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

LeVert is widely considered as one of the most talented players on the Nets when healthy, and it’s possible he’ll rejoin the team’s starting lineup in the coming weeks. He averaged 13.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game in 40 contests last season.

“Just adds one of our best players to the lineup quite honestly,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said of LeVert’s return. “A dynamic player, athleticism, quickness, speed. A guy that knows our system too. It’s not like some guy we signed out of the blue. I feel comfortable once he gets his rhythm. He knows what we’re doing on both sides of the ball so that’s a big comfort level.”

The Nets have been plagued with injuries to start the season, playing without Kevin Durant (torn Achilles’ rehab), Kyrie Irving (right shoulder; 11 games played), LeVert and others. Brooklyn owns the seventh-best record in the East at 16-18.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic details what we know about Kyrie Irving‘s lingering right shoulder injury, which has forced the six-time All-Star to miss the past 23 games. Irving recently received a cortisone shot for the shoulder impingement, opting to go this route instead of having arthroscopic surgery — for now. “I’m in a better place now that it’s been some significant time,” Irving said. “I tried to go without any anti-inflammatories, which is why it took so long. Now I’m at a place where the next step was to either get a cortisone shot or get surgery. So that was the ultimatum I was fixed with. So now I’m just doing the best I can to live off this cortisone and move forward if I need surgery in the future.”
  • Raptors big men Pascal Siakam (groin) and Marc Gasol (hamstring) still aren’t close to returning to action, head coach Nick Nurse said, as relayed by Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link). “I would still say, if I was guessing, the order of comeback would probably be Matt [Thomas] and Norm [Powell], Marc and then lastly Pascal if that’s the case,” Nurse said. “But I think we’re still, I mean, we’re still a ways away with Marc and Pascal. I think Norm and Matt are in the front-view mirror, let’s put it that way.”
  • Kawhi Leonard said he never considered joining the Knicks in free agency and denied scheduling a meeting with the team, Ian Begley of SNY.tv writes. “I never said I was considering going to the Knicks. Everybody knew where I wanted to go once I requested the trade so I don’t know where that came from,” Leonard said. New York lost out on Kawhi, who signed with the Clippers, as well as Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, who signed with the Nets. The Knicks claimed they pulled out of a scheduled meeting with Leonard.

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.

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Gasol, Powell, VanVleet

The Raptors, who have already been without Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and a handful of role players for stretches this season, will now put their roster depth to its biggest test yet. The team announced on Thursday that Pascal Siakam (groin), Marc Gasol (hamstring), and Norman Powell (shoulder) will all be sidelined indefinitely.

Siakam has been Toronto’s leading scorer and a borderline MVP candidate so far this season, while Gasol has been the team’s most valuable player on the defensive end. The loss of Powell shouldn’t be understated either — the 26-year-old swingman had been enjoying perhaps the best stretch of his career, averaging 16.8 PPG on .515/.423/.828 shooting in his last 20 games (30.8 MPG).

Here’s more on the Raptors as they look to fill the holes created by their latest series of injuries:

  • While the Raptors didn’t offer a definitive recovery timeline for any of their three newly-injured players, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Gasol is likely to miss a “period of weeks.” Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter links) suggests that Siakam’s injury will likely be the most short-term of the three, while Powell’s injury figures to keep him out the longest. Siakam’s groin issue is believed to be a mild strain that the club is handling with caution, Grange notes.
  • As both Grange and Eric Koreen of The Athletic point out, Powell’s shoulder subluxation sounds similar to an injury he suffered last season, which cost him six weeks. Koreen believes it will be a “best-case scenario” for Toronto if Gasol and Powell each only miss a few weeks.
  • Getting Fred VanVleet, Matt Thomas, and Stanley Johnson back soon would help the Raptors address their depth concerns, Blake Murphy of The Athletic notes in an in-depth look on the fallout of the team’s injury woes. There’s hope that VanVleet may be able to return as early as Friday, but Grange says Thomas will likely be out for another week or so.
  • Koreen, Murphy, and Grange all wonder if the Raptors might consider adding someone to their roster. The 15-man squad is currently full though, so in order to make room for someone new, Toronto would have to trade or waive a back-of-the-roster player — or qualify for a hardship exception, which appears unlikely for now.

Pascal Siakam Among Raptors Out Indefinitely

Earlier today, we passed along word that Marc Gasol will miss time with a hamstring injury and the news from The North has gotten worse. Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell are each out indefinitely, the Raptors announced in a press release.

Siakam sustained a stretched groin, per the team, after landing awkwardly during the Raptors’ tilt against the Pistons. Powell also left that game after colliding with another player and the wing has been diagnosed with subluxation of his left shoulder.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Gasol will miss “a period of weeks” with his injury. The team didn’t put a timetable on it, instead calling the big man out indefinitely as well. Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) hears that Siakam will likely be the quickest to return of the three.

After a summer that saw Toronto win an NBA championship and lose Kawhi Leonard, the team came back this year focused and it shows in the Raptors’ 19-8 record. The club sits fourth in the Eastern Conference as of this writing. However, it’ll be tough for the Raptors to remain to hold their position in the standings, given their injuries and the fact that the Sixers and Pacers are within a game of them.

Marc Gasol To Miss Time With Hamstring Injury

Marc Gasol will not be working during the holidays. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link) that the Raptors center will miss “a period of weeks” with a left hamstring strain.

The injury occurred during the first half of the team’s win over the Pistons on Wednesday. Gasol left the game and did not return.

While the timeline is vague, it’s safe to assume Gasol won’t be back before the new year. The Raptors will take on the Wizards, Mavs, Pacers, Celtics (twice), Thunder and Cavaliers before 2020 is upon us.

Serge Ibaka figures to step in as Toronto’s starting center with Gasol on the shelf.

Raptors Notes: Powell, Boucher, Gasol, Siakam

Raptors shooting guard Norman Powell has been playing some of the best basketball of his NBA career during his fifth NBA season, as Toronto Star reporter Doug Smith details.

Powell, in the second year of a four-year, $42MM extension with the team, also stands as one of the only Toronto players on a long-term deal. Before tonight’s win against the Pistons, Powell had been averaging career bests in points (14.6 PPG), rebounds (3.9 RPG), minutes (28.7), and field goal percentage (49.8%). 

“I’m just being able to read what the defense is doing,” Powell observed. “How they’re playing, where their bigs are at, whether it is a finish or a kick-out or a drop-off to the bigs, just … being aggressive.”

There’s more out of Canada:

  • In another piece, The Toronto Star’s Doug Smith notes that the play of emerging Raptors forward Chris Boucher has earned the Oregon alum more rotation minutes this season. A solid shot-blocker with good shooting range, the 6’9″ third year player has given head coach Nick Nurse reason to ponder making some lineup adjustments. “It’s not an easy thing to figure out,” Nurse allowed. “If you say you want to give someone more minutes that means you are taking some away from somebody else, and I don’t really know who that is right now.”
  • The Raptors’ latest victory may have come at a cost. Starters Powell and center Marc Gasol both suffered injuries, and will be reassessed in Toronto tomorrow. Blake Murphy of The Athletic reports that Gasol left the game with a strained left hamstring and Powell hurt his left shoulder on a Blake Griffin screen. Powell missed 21 games last season with a left shoulder subluxation against a Rudy Gobert screen.
  • Rod Beard of The Detroit News reports that Pistons head coach Dwane Casey did not anticipate Pascal Siakam‘s improvement from defensive role player to, now, one of the league’s best two-players. “I didn’t see that he would be a superstar and he is a superstar in our league right now,” Casey noted. “He started 38 games in his first year… Shooting was his last resort; it was his last offensive option.” The fourth-year forward is averaging 25.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG, and 3.6 APG for the 19-8 Raptors.

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.

Eastern Notes: Isaac, Giannis, Nets, Heat, Lowry

Magic forward Jonathan Isaac gets lead billing this year in Zach Lowe’s annual ESPN.com column on his six most intriguing players of the upcoming season. As Lowe details, Isaac has put on about 15-20 pounds this offseason as he looks to bulk up his thin frame a little, and the team has high hopes for him going forward, particularly on the defensive end.

According to Lowe, it’s “hard to overstate” how much Orlando loves Isaac. In fact, sources tell Lowe that the Magic have “batted away” any and all trade inquiries on the former No. 6 overall pick. The front office views Isaac as a standard-bearer for the culture that the team is trying to create, Lowe adds.

As we look forward to seeing whether a breakout year is coming for Isaac, here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • In an in-depth story for ESPN.com, Tim Bontemps examines the two possible long-term paths for the Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who will be eligible for a super-max contract extension next summer. Antetokounmpo’s decision on whether to re-up with the Bucks or explore other options will have a massive impact not just on basketball in Milwaukee but on the entire NBA.
  • The role of Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson in the team’s successful foray into free agency this summer shouldn’t be overlooked, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who points out that both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant praised Atkinson in their initial comments to the media last week.
  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald offers a pair of hypothetical trade scenarios that could see the Heat add Chris Paul and Bradley Beal to their roster. Although Jackson’s suggestions would certainly appeal to Miami, there has been no indication that the Wizards will move Beal or that the Thunder will meet the Heat’s demands in a CP3 trade.
  • While Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Marc Gasol figure to be mainstays in the Raptors‘ starting lineups, head coach Nick Nurse may shuffle through players for the other two spots, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets. Meanwhile, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca explores whether it makes sense for the Raptors and Lowry to work out an extension sooner rather than later.