Nick Nurse

Raptors Notes: Lowry, Powell, Siakam, Nurse

After helping the Raptors snap their nine-game losing streak on Wednesday with a blowout win over Denver, veteran point guard Kyle Lowry admitted that it was a “weird” feeling not knowing if it was his last game with the franchise, writes Josh Lewenberg of Lowry is prepared for the possibility of being traded later today, on his 35th birthday.

“Whatever will be will be, honestly,” Lowry said, per Lewenberg. “That’s the truth.

“I don’t know (what I want to happen). I wish I could give you (an answer), but at the end of the day, I’m gonna (make) a decision and work it out and if something happens, it happens — if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Everything happens for a reason. I personally, right now, I don’t really put too much thought into it. My agent is really good at his job and (is having) a lot of decisions, he’ll look at it and help facilitate that decision.”

According to Lewenberg, the odds of Lowry being traded seemed slim earlier this month. Sources tell that the Raptors were still telling teams last week that they didn’t intend to move him and that Lowry and his reps expected to finish the season with the club. That has changed in recent days, as Toronto has become more willing to listen to inquiries and offers for the six-time All-Star, who could be the biggest name on the move in the next seven hours.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Norman Powell, the Raptors’ other top trade candidate, said that his preference would be to remain with Toronto, but he acknowledged that anything could happen, as Lewenberg relays. “My roots are here,” Powell said. “I’ve given everything to the franchise. Obviously I want to stay here. I’m not out looking for other teams to go play for. I’m solely focused on this season, being with the team and hopefully being able to finish out the season with them. But I understand that it’s a business.” Lewenberg and other reporters have suggested that Powell is very likely to be dealt today.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s Bart & Hahn Show (video link), Brian Windhorst said he believes the Raptors will essentially control the trade deadline, since Lowry and Powell are two of the top players available. Teams chasing one or both of those two may want resolution before moving onto other targets.
  • The Raptors’ dominant win over Denver on Wednesday showed how much upside the current group still has, but it was probably too little, too late to change the team’s approach to the deadline, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic.
  • Michael Grange of provided some additional details on the confrontation between Pascal Siakam and head coach Nick Nurse that may result in a $50K fine for the Raptors forward. Grange describes Siakam’s outburst toward Nurse as one that crossed lines and included “words beyond standard cursing.” However, there’s no indication that it will lead to anything drastic involving Siakam at the trade deadline, Grange notes.
  • The Raptors denied a report that Siakam had been fined $50K, saying possible discipline was still being discussed internally. But since those team penalties aren’t made public, we may never know for sure whether or not Toronto fines Siakam, according to Grange, who says the club has concerns about the way the report on that fine and another recent Shams Charania report – which blamed a COVID-19 outbreak on the coaching staff not following proper masking guidelines – have surfaced.

Raptors Fining Pascal Siakam $50K?

1:52pm: A Raptors media spokesperson has said Charania’s report is “not correct,” tweets Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press. Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link) has heard the matter is still being discussed internally, but notes that reporting from his colleague Charania is rarely inaccurate.

12:24pm: The Raptors have fined Pascal Siakam $50K after a heated exchange with coach Nick Nurse, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The incident took place Sunday in Cleveland as Toronto players were leaving the court after an 11-point defeat that pushed the team’s losing streak to eight games. It’s now at nine after another double-digit loss Monday in Houston.

Siakam directed “several choice words” toward his coach, multiple sources tell Charania. He didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter of the Cleveland game, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports, with Nurse keeping him on the bench as the Raptors tried to stage a comeback.

This has been a difficult season for the Raptors, who have fallen to 17-26 and are in danger of dropping out of playoff contention in the East. Siakam was an All-Star last season and continues to be productive at 19.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, but his outburst is an indication that tempers are short in the locker room.

“It ain’t no secret, we’ve gotta play defense and we’ve gotta play better,” Kyle Lowry told Doug Smith of The Toronto Star after Monday’s game. “It’s literally no secret to it, like I swear. I wish I could give you guys some other magical answer, but it’s literally no Groundhog Day. Every game’s different and we’re just not playing hard enough and we’re not playing well enough.”

Atlantic Notes: Boucher, Robinson, Sixers, Nurse

Raptors forward Chris Boucher, enjoying a stellar offensive year after re-signing with Toronto to a bargain two-year, $13.5MM deal during the offseason, still has room to grow on defense, according to Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star.

“It’s a tricky spot we’re in because (Boucher) looks great on (offense),” head coach Nick Nurse said this past week. “Even the blocked shots look great. But we’re giving up a lot of things at the other end. We’ve got to figure it out.” In 24.1 MPG, Boucher is averaging career-highs of 14.4 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 2.0 BPG this season, while connecting on a career-high 43.9% of his 3.8 three-point attempts.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, who could return to New York’s rotation as soon as tonight, had a metal plate inserted into his hand following surgery to address his broken right hand, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News tweets.
  • While other teams in the East have made intriguing upgrades as they shore up their rosters for the playoffs (such as Milwaukee’s deal for P.J. Tucker and Miami’s trade for Trevor Ariza), Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that the Sixers appear willing to selectively make improvements should it help their title odds. According to Pompey, the 76ers have been active in discussions with teams about being a third partner in three-team transactions, and the club may consider buyout market additions as well.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has been fined $50K by the NBA after he threw his mask into the stands while protesting the officiating of a 115-112 Toronto loss to the Jazz on Friday, according to Steven Psihogios of Yahoo Sports“It just didn’t seem like they were going to let us win tonight,” Nurse complained. “A lot of calls, man. Every trip, every possession was free throws.” The Jazz had 41 free throw opportunities, while the Raptors took just 14.

Atlantic Notes: Griffin, Nurse, Curry, Toppin

Blake Griffin is close to making his Nets debut, coach Steve Nash told the media on Friday (hat tip to Griffin is traveling with the team on its current road trip. “He looks good, is improving, and is working hard off the floor as well,” Nash said. “I think he is addressing all of the things he needed to address to land safely back in the game and transition into our team, which is not always easy. … He has to adapt to the way that we play, new teammates, new system, and new style.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors coach Nick Nurse hinted that his team’s troubles go beyond COVID-19 related absences, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. With OG Anunoby returning on Friday, the Raptors have all of the players who were under the league’s healthy and safety protocols back in action. Toronto lost to Utah on Friday, its seventh straight defeat, and Nurse seemed to indicate the team needs more help. “We’re getting our (butts) kicked at the rim on both ends, not rebounding,” he said. “I mean the ship has got holes all over the place that we’re trying to patch up.”
  • Sixers guard Seth Curry will miss at least two games due to a sprained left ankle, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. He’ll be re-evaluated after Sunday’s game against New York. Philadelphia plays Sacramento on Saturday.
  • Knicks lottery pick Obi Toppin has seen his playing time drop in recent games, Barbara Barker of Newsday notes. Toppin has played single-digit minutes in his last four outings and has gone scoreless the last three games. Julius Randle has averaged 40 MPG over that stretch, which has led to Toppin’s lack of activity.

Atlantic Notes: Nurse, Griffin, Durant, Rivers

After being sidelined for nearly two weeks due to health and safety protocols, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was cleared to return today and guided the team through practice, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Nurse expects to be back on the sidelines Thursday as Toronto starts the second half of the season against the Hawks. “I feel really rested, rejuvenated and ready to go,” he said (Twitter link).

Nurse doesn’t expect any of his assistant coaches who were also in the protocols to return tomorrow, although he says a couple of them are close. The team probably won’t have a full staff available until sometime next week. Nurse declined to speculate on when the five Raptors players who are in the protocols will be cleared to return (Twitter link).

He also took issue with rumors that the outbreak was caused by improper mask use among the coaching staff, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. “I don’t think anybody would have any idea what they’re talking about,” Nurse said. “… That is a really unfair, very speculative thing to say.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Blake Griffin has joined the Nets, but he won’t make his season debut Thursday night. He is listed as out due to left knee injury management, tweets Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. Griffin practiced with the team today and said his knee feels fine. However, he hasn’t played in nearly a month, so Brooklyn is trying to work him back into game condition (Twitter link). Coach Steve Nash sees Griffin as a “small-ball five” who can hit open three-pointers and help with playmaking (Twitter link).
  • Kevin Durant will also sit out Thursday, marking the 10th straight game he’ll miss since straining his left hamstring last month, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Nash said Durant will have another scan on the hamstring next week (Twitter link). There was bleeding in the last scan, and the team realized that he might miss a month or more (Twitter link). Nash added that the Nets‘ medical staff doesn’t believe the current injury is related to the ruptured Achilles that Durant suffered in 2019 (Twitter link). “He hasn’t played in a month,” Nash said. “So no matter what the scan says, there will still be an appropriate ramp-up time to make sure we put him in a position to finish the season strong.”
  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers missed today’s practice because of illness and it’s uncertain if he’ll be able to coach tomorrow, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Rivers’ condition isn’t related to COVID-19.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Smart, Thibodeau, Sixers, Rose

There are positive signs that the PistonsRaptors game in Tampa will be played on Wednesday but Toronto will have to go without three starters. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby have been ruled out under the league’s health and safety protocols, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw will also be sidelined by the protocols. Jalen Harris and Donta Hall have been recalled from the G League bubble in Orlando, Lewenberg adds.

A majority of the coaching staff, including head coach Nick Nurse, will also miss the game, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Those coaches were placed under the protocols prior to the team’s game on Friday. Sergio Scariolo will once again run the team on Wednesday. The Raptors, who had their game against Chicago on Sunday postponed, were originally scheduled to face Detroit on Tuesday.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Marcus Smart is “getting a lot closer” to returning to action, according to Celtics coach Brad Stevens. Mark Murphy of the Boston Globe tweets that Smart will benefit from additional team practice time after the All-Star break. Smart has been out since January 30 due to a Grade 1 left calf strain.
  • Tom Thibodeau has established himself as a serious candidate for Coach of the Year in his first season with the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Knicks players have been impressed with how hard the staff works and it has resulted in a winning record entering Tuesday’s game.
  • The Sixers have been given the go-ahead by the city of Philadelphia to bring back crowds in a limited capacity, the team tweets. The team will be allowed to have crowds at 15% capacity, or approximately 3,100 fans.
  • Knicks guard Derrick Rose missed the team’s game against San Antonio on Tuesday after being placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.

Protocols Force Raptors Coaches To Work Remotely

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse and five other members of the team’s coaching staff will not be on the bench indefinitely due to the league’s health and safety protocols, according to a team press release.

Toronto plays its next three games at its temporary home in Tampa, beginning with a matchup against Houston on Friday. The Raptors also have home games with Chicago (Sunday) and Detroit (Tuesday) and a road trip to Boston (Thursday) prior to the All-Star break.

It’s unclear who will be running the team from the sidelines before those staff members clear protocols. The Raptors have six assistant coaches, along with other staff members in a variety of roles. Chris Finch was hired as the Timberwolves’ head coach on Monday.

The coaches under quarantine will continue to work remotely, and details on their return will be communicated when appropriate, according to the release. GM Bobby Webster will address the media later this afternoon.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Harris, Randle, Nurse

The Raptors face a bevy of intriguing choices ahead of the March 25 trade deadline, Blake Murphy of The Athletic notes. Murphy writes that, with the current contracts for both point guard Kyle Lowry and wing Norman Powell coming off Toronto’s books this summer, the team may be exercising caution ahead of the deadline when it comes to adding any player with a deal that lasts into next season or beyond.

Should the Raptors opt not to re-sign Lowry and/or Powell, they could have ample salary cap room to add new players. Murphy details the possible routes available for improving the team without Toronto exceeding the 2020/21 salary cap, and all impediments to dealing particular players in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers forward Tobias Harris did not make the cut for the NBA’s All-Star reserves tonight, despite some of the best play of his career for the East-leading Philadelphia. Harris’ father Torrel Harris, who is also Tobias’ agent, expressed his thoughts in a text to Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link). “It’s very disappointing that Tobias Harris was not selected,” Torrel said, noting that Tobias has played a key role in leading the 76ers to the top seed in the conference.
  • Marc Berman of the New York Post writes that Knicks forward Julius Randle finally achieved a longtime goal in becoming an All-Star for the first time with his selection to the 2021 East reserves tonight. “My goal was never just to play in the NBA,” Randle said ahead of his selection. “I just wanted to be the best player I could possibly be and reach my potential. And I try to push myself every day to do so. [Becoming an All-Star] would definitely be a milestone.”
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse will consider a variety of candidates to fill the vacancy left by assistant coach Chris Finch, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes. Finch vacated his assistant position with Toronto for a head coaching opportunity with the Timberwolves yesterday. Giving more responsibility to current assistant coach Jama Mahlalela, adding G League assistant coach Brittni Donaldson, or signing someone else from an overseas club or another G League team could all be on the table.

Atlantic Notes: Harris, Simmons, Nurse, Finch, Durant

Sixers forward Tobias Harris advised Ben Simmons that the best way to quell trade rumors is to win a title, Harris told Sam Amick of The Athletic. Simmons was mentioned prominently as part of a potential package for James Harden before Harden was dealt to Brooklyn.

“I had conversations with Ben, too,” Harris said. “I was like, ‘The only way you become untradeable, pretty much, is if you win a championship.’ If you win a championship, nobody is breaking apart (that) team. You’ll add pieces to the team, but you’re not breaking up the core pieces. That was one of the things (he talked with Simmons about). I think it was kind of motivating (for him).”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors coach Nick Nurse does not anticipate that they’ll receive any compensation from the Timberwolves for assistant coach Chris Finch, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Finch was hired as Minnesota head coach on Monday, and Nurse was happy to see him get the opportunity, Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets. “I’ve always seen it as my job to help people (achieve) their career ambitions,” Nurse said.
  • The Raptors head coach said he became aware of Minnesota’s interest in Finch over the weekend, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets“It did all happen really quick. Those things are never done until they’re done but we had a pretty good idea that (last night) would be Chris’ last game and then we would be on the move… It really did happen in like 36 hours.” Nurse will temporarily take more control of offensive duties while re-organizing his assistants’ responsibilities.
  • Kevin Durant‘s hamstring is showing improvement, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “I reiterate we’re all optimistic and positive that he’s improving at a rapid rate, and will be back soon,” Nets head coach Steve Nash said. However, Durant will miss his fifth consecutive game on Tuesday, Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Payton, Raptors, LeVert, Johnson

Elfrid Payton remains the starting point guard for the Knicks ahead of breakout rookie Immanuel Quickley and veteran off-guard Austin Rivers thanks to Payton’s solid defense, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau was diplomatically effusive in his praise of both Payton and Quickley, the latter of whom Berman notes has become a fan favorite. “I love both guys — they’re different and bring different things to the team,’’ Thibodeau said Sunday. “Elfrid, when you look at his defense and size, a lot of these guards, particularly point guards in the NBA today, they’re a load to deal with. Elfrid has a good understanding how to defend them.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets-turned-Pacers wing Caris LeVert was notified by Brooklyn GM Sean Marks during their 2020 offseason that he might be traded in 2020/21, according to J Michael of the Indianapolis Star“Sean was very honest with me from the first time the rumors came out. He told me don’t rule it out,” LeVert said. “I didn’t know it was going to happen. I just knew that it was a possibility and there was a lot of speculation.” 
  • With the Raptors having finally established a consistent rotation, the team is rebounding from an ugly beginning to its season, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. Toronto is on a three-game win streak following a 2-8 start. “I think that we’re continuing to find out things about our team that are improving the team,” head coach Nick Nurse said yesterday. “Guys are comfortable with the guys that we’re putting out there and I think those guys have chipped in pretty considerably.
  • Hustling in practice has carved out a rotation role for Raptors reserve forward Stanley Johnson, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. “I think the important quality is that he’s maintained … a really strong work ethic day in and day out, which isn’t easy to do for somebody who’s been in the league for a while when you’re not hitting the court for really long stretches of time,” Nurse said. Johnson is averaging 14.7 MPG for Toronto in 11 contests.