Norman Powell

Raptors Notes: Lineup Changes, Powell, Flynn, Attendance

The smaller lineups that Raptors coach Nick Nurse experimented with Friday could become permanent, writes Steven Loung of Sportsnet. Toronto picked up just its second win of the season as center Alex Len started for the first time since joining the team, taking the place of Aron Baynes. However most of the playing time in the middle went to Chris Boucher, with OG Anunoby filling in there as well.

Baynes has been “underachieving” since signing with the Raptors in the offseason, according to Loung. The veteran center is averaging just 5.3 points and 5.7 rebounds through his first seven games. Nurse liked how the smaller group responded and indicated that he may stick with it.

“I think the biggest thing is playing small, it does a number of things for us, but the biggest thing it does for us is it enables us to switch all the pick-and-rolls which, late in games, that’s going down pretty much at both ends, it’s pick-and-roll basketball,” Nurse said. “And then secondly, it almost puts OG and Pascal (Siakam) in the handling and screening situations, which, you know, OG is a good screener and finisher in that stuff.”

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Friday marked the second start of the season for shooting guard Norman Powell, Loung adds in the same story. Powell scored 22 points while filling in for Kyle Lowry, who missed the game for personal reasons. “Yeah, I would. I would,” Nurse responded when asked whether he would consider making Powell a full-time starter. “He’s had two really good games as a starter and I would hate to count how many not-so-good games coming off the bench. So I would consider that at this point.”
  • Lowry’s absence gave rookie point guard Malachi Flynn his first chance at extended playing time, notes Chris O’Leary of NBA.com. Flynn, who showed promise during the preseason, responded with 12 points, five rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes. “I’m going to stay confident regardless, but having a game like this definitely helps,” Flynn said. “So just continue to have that mindset of being confident and hopefully have more games like this.” 
  • The Raptors won’t have fans at their temporary home in Tampa, Florida, until at least February 5, according to The Associated Press. Vinik Sports Group, which owns Amalie Arena, made the announcement today because COVID-19 cases in the region have “risen sharply.”

Atlantic Notes: Barrett, Thibodeau, Powell

Knicks guard RJ Barrett is in the midst of a miserable shooting slump, Marc Berman of the New York Post notes. The No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft has made just 19 of 72 field-goal attempts since scoring 26 points in the team’s opener. He’s also missed all 21 of his 3-point tries in the last four games. However, Tom Thibodeau said this week that Barrett contributes in many ways.

“He’s doing a lot of things for us defensively, moving well without the ball. He’s getting downhill,” the Knicks coach said. “There’s a lot of room for him to grow. … Just having a wing to do things he can do, his versatility is a big asset for the team and willingness to make plays for people.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Thibodeau has stuck with the same starting five in the first five games because he wants to establish chemistry and a coherent rotation, Berman writes in a separate story. “I think they’re familiar with each other,’’ Thibodeau said. “It’s a good balance of how they complement each other. We have three guys that can go off the dribble pretty effectively. We have shooting with Reggie (Bullock) and defense. And Mitch (Mitchell Robinson) is really coming on. So I like the balance of that group, especially with our bench.’’
  • The Raptors have played better with Norman Powell in the starting lineup but it creates other issues, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. In 90 career starts, Powell has averaged 13.3 PPG while shooting 41% from 3-point range. Toronto could go small by taking Aron Baynes out of the lineup but that would affect the second unit and reduce Alex Len‘s playing time, Smith adds.
  • ICYMI, virtually every Atlantic Division teams has checked in with the Rockets regarding disgruntled star James Harden. Get the details here.

Atlantic Notes: Rivers, Green, Grousbeck, Powell

New Knicks point guard Austin Rivers was held out of practice on Wednesday with a groin injury, according to Steve Popper of Newsday.

“I think it puts you behind, but you also want to be smart about it,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said about his approach with the injury going forward.

Marc Berman of the New York Post tweets that, given the way Thibodeau has discussed the injury, Rivers’s preseason availability could be up in the air. The Knicks’ new guard has not taken any contact in practices to this point.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • New Sixers swingman Danny Green will be bringing a championship pedigree and veteran leadership to his new club, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer details. Green has started for three title teams, including the two most recent champions. New Sixers head coach Doc Rivers applauded Green’s “unbelievable” shooting during his first practice for Philadelphia.
  • In a conversation with Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, Celtics majority owner Wyc Grousbeck discussed the departure of forward Gordon Hayward, the knee troubles of starting point guard Kemba Walker, and his excitement about Boston rookies Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard. “[Team president] Danny (Ainge’s) excitement about Aaron Nesmith is about the shooting and skill and size on both sides of the ball,” Grousbeck said. “I’m not saying Payton Pritchard is (Rajon) Rondo, but Danny had that level of excitement about seeing this kid on the team.”
  • Raptors reserve guard Norman Powell will lead a new-look bench unit for Toronto, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. “This year the team looks a little different,” Powell said. “I think that’s the biggest challenge for me this year, is how do I get the new guys coming in to have that [same] chemistry [we had last season] so we can make an impact and sustain that high level of play and competitiveness, and keep playing Raptors basketball.” Second unit mainstays Serge Ibaka and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson both departed in free agency,

Atlantic Notes: Powell, Knicks, Harris, Brown

Raptors shooting guard Norman Powell had his best year ever in 2019/20 at age 26, prompting Eric Koreen of The Athletic to wonder whether or not this offseason may be the perfect time to trade Powell. He is set to earn $10.9MM in 2020/21, and has an $11.6MM player option for 2021/22.

Koreen posits that Powell may be able to command more money on the open market were he to opt out of the final year of his deal. If the Raptors re-sign guard Fred VanVleet, who figures to be one of the premiere free agents in 2020, Koreen opines that flipping Powell’s contract ahead of a free agent-heavy 2021 offseason may make the most sense for Toronto’s future team-building.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Following a two-day hotel quarantine, the Knicks started their first in-market group workouts under new head coach Tom Thibodeau today at their Westchester Country training facility, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. Popper reports that nearly all Knicks players, including everyone on a team option for next season, participated in individual workouts last week.
  • Unrestricted Nets free agent wing Joe Harris, one of the best three-point shooters in the league, will not be wanting for suitors during the offseason, Brian Lewis of the New York Post reports. Teams with cap space Lewis anticipates having interest include the Knicks, Hawks, Hornets and Timberwolves, though Harris might also be targeted as part of a sign-and-trade deal for an over-the-cap club, such as the Warriors or Sixers. Both Golden State and Philadelphia project to be taxpayers, which would complicate any sign-and-trade deal.
  • Celtics small forward Jaylen Brown has quietly ascended during the NBA’s Disney World restart to become one of the key leaders for Boston, Marcus Thompson of The Athletic writes in an extensive profile.

Raptors Notes: Anunoby, Powell, Free Agents

While the Raptors‘ veteran free agents – Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka – will receive much of the attention this offseason, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star points out that the front office has key decisions to make on a couple other players who were part of the team’s top seven in 2019/20.

OG Anunoby will be eligible for a rookie scale contract extension this offseason, and while he earned an offer with his strong play in his third professional season, Smith anticipates the Raptors will wait until the forward reaches restricted free agency in 2021 in order to maintain cap flexibility.

Meanwhile, swingman Norman Powell is coming off the best season of his career and is entering a potential contract year (he has a player option for 2021/22), prompting Smith to suggest that the Raptors should think about gauging his value on the trade market.

As Smith writes, Powell is one of the team’s more intriguing chips and could be used to acquire a big man who would be a longer-term piece than Gasol or Ibaka. However, the Toronto Star scribe ultimately expects Powell to be back with the Raptors next season.

Here’s more out of Toronto:

  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic makes predictions for which Raptors are most and least likely to stick with the team through the offseason, speculating that Fred VanVleet (73.8%) is a better bet to return than Serge Ibaka (48.8%) or Marc Gasol (42.3%).
  • Elsewhere at The Athletic, Eric Koreen digs into whether re-signing VanVleet is essential for the Raptors’ future success. In Koreen’s view, it seems far more likely that the team will pay to retain the former undrafted free agent, rather than letting him walk and hoping its player development group can strike gold again on a long-term replacement.
  • In case you missed it, Nick Nurse‘s new contract extension with Toronto is reportedly worth about $8MM per year. That item and many others can be found on our Raptors team page.

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Sixers, Nets, Leonard, VanVleet

The Celtics announced on Wednesday that forward Gordon Hayward is listed as doubtful for Thursday’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Bontemps points out, this is the first time Hayward has been upgraded from “out” since he suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The Celtics replaced Hayward in the starting lineup with Marcus Smart, who is averaging 15.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 4.2 APG.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • After losing the development rights to Penn’s Landing to a rival bidder last week, the Sixers have signaled their dissatisfaction with playing at the Wells Fargo Center, writes Jacob Adelman of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sixers want their own arena for a variety of reasons, including the ability to gain schedule flexibility, which they currently do not have. Philadelphia’s lease at the Wells Fargo Center reportedly runs out in 2031. The Inquirer goes on to lists various locations within Philadelphia that the Sixers could use to build their new arena.
  • Long Island Nets guard Devin Cannady spoke with Alex Schiffer of The Athletic about working out with Nets superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Los Angeles. The NBA G League guard recalled a game of 2-on-2 where he had trouble defending Irving. Durant stopped the game and instead gave tips Cannady to help him. “If I got the confidence from KD,” Cannady said to Schiffer. “Then I don’t need to hold back anymore at all.” The former Princeton standout also said that Durant looks good and healthy in the workouts.
  • One of the reasons why Kawhi Leonard wanted to go to the Clippers is because he felt the Raptors weren’t good enough to repeat, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link). The Finals MVP reportedly said this last summer in his meeting with Toronto’s front office. Leonard ultimately ended up signing a three-year deal with Los Angeles and teaming up with Paul George. However, his old team didn’t experience a significant drop-off, finishing with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference and losing in Game 7 of the Eastern Semifinals.
  • With the Raptors’ season coming to an end last week, Blake Murphy of The Athletic explains what it would take to re-sign Fred VanVleet while also maintaining max cap space for the 2021 offseason. VanVleet is set to be an unrestricted free agent and is reportedly expected to receive interest from the Knicks, Pistons, and Suns. Murphy details various scenarios involving OG Anunoby‘s rookie-scale extension, which he is eligible for this offseason, the 2021 free-agent class, and Norman Powell‘s player option.

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Irving, Powell, Ntilikina

Nets general manager Sean Marks offered an update on the status of injured stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving during remote interviews this week, relays NetsDaily. Durant continues to rehab an Achilles injury that has sidelined him since last year’s NBA Finals, while Irving is recovering from shoulder surgery on March 3.

“Specifically with Kevin, this rehab and return to practice was really looking great,” Marks said. “He was on the floor again. A lot people have seen that short little video that was posted and so forth. It was remarkable to see the way he was progressing. … I’ve talked to Ky multiple times. He seems to be doing very very well, rehabbing in his apartment in Brooklyn and between here and Jersey. So he’s doing well. I know both those guys are itching to get back, but get back at 100 percent.”

Marks also addressed the team’s unsettled coaching situation, as interim Jacque Vaughn only got to coach the team for two games after taking over for Kenny Atkinson. Marks said Vaughn and his staff are staying in touch with players and expressed hope that he will get more opportunity to show what he can do before a final decision has to be made.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors guard Norman Powell is fully recovered from a twisted ankle he suffered during the team’s final game before the hiatus, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Powell has been watching a couple hours of film each day during the break and is concentrating on his defense off the ball (Twitter link).
  • The Knicks are less likely to try to move point guard Frank Ntilikina this offseason than they were last summer, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Several teams said New York reached out to them with trade proposals involving Ntilikina before last year’s draft and may have accepted an early second-round pick in return.
  • There is a “growing belief” that interim Knicks coach Mike Miller will have a role with the organization next season, although he remains a long shot to become the permanent head coach, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Miller has been studying tape and trying to keep the team running as normally as possible under the circumstances. “We’ve done a good job of making sure throughout the week our players hear from us almost on a daily basis — from the training staff, performance staff and medical staff,” he said. “They have been very well connected with us making sure everyone is safe.”

Raptors Notes: Gasol, Ibaka, VanVleet, Powell

Lost revenue from the NBA’s hiatus has the Raptors in a position of financial uncertainty as they look ahead to the offseason, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Toronto has just nine players signed beyond this season, and only four of them are part of the rotation. Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet are all headed for free agency, and the Raptors aren’t sure how much cap room they’ll have available.

The league may lose hundreds of millions in projected earnings if it can’t salvage a significant portion of its remaining season. That’s on top of lost money resulting from the dispute with China. Smith points out that Pascal Siakam‘s new extension, which begins next season, is based on a percentage of the salary cap. While that might give the Raptors more money to work with than they were expecting, it adds to the muddled financial picture.

There’s more from Toronto:

  • The Raptors should prioritize re-signing Gasol over Ibaka if they decide not to keep both, argues Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Even though Ibaka is five years younger and a better scorer, Murphy sees Gasol as a superior passer, defender and floor spacer. He also suggests that Gasol may be more willing to accept a large one-year contract, which allows the team to remain competitive in a talented 2021 free agent class.
  • Murphy had expected VanVleet to get an offer beyond what Toronto is willing to pay, but he cautions that a lower salary cap might change the equation. He projected that the Raptors would offer the fourth-year guard a new deal in the range of $17MM to $20MM annually. Only five or six teams will have the money to top that, and several of them already have young point guards in place. Murphy states that VanVleet’s best strategy may be to accept a long-term deal in Toronto that takes advantage of his Bird rights.
  • Norman Powell‘s improvement this season may tempt the Raptors to hold onto his contract rather than trade it for cap relief, Murphy adds. Powell is owed nearly $10.9MM next season and has an $11.6MM player option for 2021/22.

Injury Notes: Dedmon, Simmons, Powell, Williams

New Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon underwent a non-surgical procedure to address pain in his right elbow today, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic relays (via Twitter). Atlanta has ruled out Dedmon for its next three games, but he’ll be re-evaluated on Monday, with his status updated at that point, Kirschner adds.

The Hawks are also without another newly-acquired center, Clint Capela, who continues to deal with a foot issue. However, the club has no shortage of options in the middle. With Dedmon and Capela sidelined, Atlanta figures to take a longer look at Damian Jones and Bruno Fernando.

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

  • The Sixers haven’t provided many details or a specific recovery timeline for Ben Simmons‘ back injury, so Rich Hofmann of The Athletic spoke to a pair of outside medical experts to try to get a sense of what may be causing the nerve impingement in Simmons’ back. Both doctors suggested that the most common cause would be a disc injury.
  • Raptors swingman Norman Powell (finger) has been cleared to practice and will be listed as questionable for Friday’s game vs. Charlotte, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Head coach Nick Nurse had said on Tuesday that Powell was scheduled for a check-up next week, but it sounds like the 26-year-old could make it back this weekend.
  • Appearing today on Toucher and Rich in Boston, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said big man Robert Williams (hip) remains on track to return to action as early as this weekend, or shortly thereafter (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).
  • Pelicans forward Kenrich Williams, who hasn’t played since January 6 due to a back injury, had his first full-contact practice today and has a chance to play on Friday, per head coach Alvin Gentry (Twitter link via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez).

Injury Updates: Lillard, Powell, Holmes, Herro, More

Having already missed the three games since the All-Star break, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard is expected to be sidelined for “a couple more,” a source tells Jason Quick of The Athletic (Twitter link). However, Lillard will make the three-game road trip to Indiana, Atlanta, and Orlando, Quick notes. Although we haven’t heard an official update from the Blazers, it sounds like there’s a chance Lillard could be back in the lineup by Monday when Portland faces the Magic.

Here are several more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Raptors swingman Norman Powell, sidelined for nearly a month with a broken finger, is scheduled for a check-up in about a week, head coach Nick Nurse said on Tuesday evening (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of The Athletic).
  • Kings center Richaun Holmes (shoulder) has yet to practice and there’s still no timetable for his return, per head coach Luke Walton (Twitter link via James Ham of NBC Sports California).
  • There’s still no set return timetable for injured Heat players Tyler Herro (foot) or Meyers Leonard (ankle), writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami has been without both players for the last eight games, going 2-6 during that stretch.
  • Pelicans forward Kenrich Williams recently received an injection to treat pain and inflammation in his back, according to the team. Williams, who hasn’t played since January 6, is making “good progress” and is expected to be re-evaluated before the end of the week.