Norman Powell

Raptors Notes: Ujiri, Camp Battles, T. Davis, Lowry

Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri reportedly drew interest from the Wizards this spring when Washington was in the market for a new head of basketball operations, and will likely continue to be targeted by teams making front office changes.

However, speaking to Frank Isola of The Athletic last weekend about his job status, Ujiri made it clear he intends to remain in Toronto at least through the end of his current contract in 2021, if not longer.

“The most important thing is that when you sign a contract you’re obligated to serve it,” Ujiri said. “I signed the contract and I have time left on that contract and I will serve the time. This place has been unbelievable to me. It’s been just a blessing.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

Atlantic Notes: Powell, Sixers, Nurse, Nets

Raptors guard Norman Powell made his return Wednesday after missing six weeks with a separated shoulder, seeing 14 minutes of action and working hard to regain his usual game shape. His return gave a much-needed boost of energy to a team already dealing with injuries to Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and others.

“Yeah, (Powell) just was really doing a good job of fulfilling a role, playing hard on (defense), taking the open situations on offense, not forcing the issue as much (as he has in the past),” coach Nick Nurse said postgame, according to Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun.

“It’s what we need him to do, especially now coming off the injury. He just needs to kind of play hard and settle in on the offensive end.”

Powell gave a solid effort in his first 12 games this season, with the 25-year-old suffering his shoulder injury on Nov. 5. Powell has averaged 4.8 points per game this season, shooting 46% from the field and 38% from behind the arc.

His return gives Toronto another backcourt option behind Lowry and Danny Green when healthy, with Fred VanVleet and C.J. Miles earning more playing time in his absence.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division tonight:

  • Locating trades to improve a struggling bench could be difficult for the Sixers, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic writes. Philly sports a dominant core three of Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid in their starting five, but the team’s bench has mostly struggled this season. The Sixers currently hold a 21-12 record and could look to deal second-year guard Markelle Fultz as the Feb. 7 trade deadline nears.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was fined $15K by the NBA on Wednesday for public criticism of the officiating, the league announced in a press release. Nurse’s comments came after Toronto’s 95-86 loss to the Nuggets on Sunday. “It’s ridiculous,” Nurse said at the time, upset that Kawhi Leonard wasn’t getting more calls on drives to the rim. “The guy is one of the best players in the league. He doesn’t complain. They just turn their head and go the other way, and it’s been going on all year.”
  • Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports compares the Nets to the hungry, inexperienced Lakers team before LeBron James joined the franchise, describing the similarities between the two in detail. Brooklyn, recovering from several underwhelming seasons, has won seven straight games around their young core as they await a potential future star free agent.

Injury Updates: Powell, Butler, Muscala, White

It sounds like Raptors swingman Norman Powell will be sidelined for an extended period, as Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. Powell, who suffered a subluxation (partial dislocation) of his left shoulder in Monday’s win over Utah, currently has his arm in a sling and will undergo further tests once the team is back in Toronto.

In an official press release issued this afternoon, the Raptors didn’t offer a timeline for Powell’s recovery, announcing that he’ll be out indefinitely. However, head coach Nick Nurse told reporters today that the 25-year-old will likely be on the shelf for “weeks,” with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggesting (via Twitter) that it could be four to six weeks.

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

  • Jimmy Butler, the subject of ongoing trade rumors and speculation, “should be a go” for the Timberwolves tonight against the Lakers, head coach Tom Thibodeau said today (Twitter link via ESPN’s Brian Windhorst). Butler has missed two of Minnesota’s last four games due to “general soreness” and “precautionary rest.”
  • The Sixers continue to have trouble getting all their new rotation players healthy at the same time. Wilson Chandler is back in action now, but Mike Muscala will miss at least the next week after breaking his nose in a practice on Tuesday, per the team (link via Chris Mannix of
  • A trio of injured players are just about ready to make their 2018/19 debuts. Spurs point guard Derrick White will be available to play tonight (Twitter link via Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News), as will Kings wing Bogdan Bogdanovic (Twitter link via James Ham of NBC Sports California). Meanwhile, Nets forward DeMarre Carroll may play as soon as Friday in Denver (link via Brian Lewis of The New York Post).

Raptors Notes: Powell, Richardson, Kawhi

Raptors swingman Norman Powell left Monday night’s win over Utah with a left shoulder injury, and the initial diagnosis from the team is a subluxation of that shoulder, as Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun tweets. Powell will undergo further evaluations to determine the severity of the injury, but Wolstat notes that a subluxation translates to a partial dislocation, which doesn’t sound like great news.

If Powell is forced to miss some time, the Raptors have the depth to handle his absence. Second-stringers like C.J. Miles and Delon Wright could see a little more action with Powell out, while Lorenzo Brown and Malachi Richardson would be among the candidates to play a few minutes on nights when Kawhi Leonard sits.

Here’s more out of Toronto:

  • Malachi Richardson was one of eight players who had his 2019/20 rookie scale option turned down last week, leaving him at a crossroads, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic. As Murphy observes, Richardson still has a little intrigue as a prospect, but his minor role in Toronto and the possibility of a large tax bill next season led to the team declining that option.
  • One person within the Raptors’ organization tells Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer that the expectation for Kawhi Leonard is that he’ll be fully healthy sometime around the All-Star break. The jammed foot currently sidelining Leonard isn’t considered a major issue, but even before suffering that injury, the former Finals MVP was only playing one game during back-to-back sets. Uggetti’s source seems to be suggesting that could change later in the season, if necessary.
  • On Monday, we relayed a few details on how the Raptors hope to sell Leonard on sticking in Toronto beyond this season, via Tim Bontemps of

Atlantic Notes: LeVert, Valanciunas, Nets Prospects, Redick

Caris LeVert‘s impressive early-season performances could make the Nets a more attractive free agent destination, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer points out. The Nets guard, who is averaging 24.7 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 4.0 APG, is a versatile talent who can mesh with anyone because of his passing, cutting and spot-up shooting, O’Connor continues. Brooklyn’s front office looks smart for taking LeVert off the table in trade discussions with the Timberwolves for Jimmy Butler, O’Connor adds.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • There hasn’t been any grumbling from Raptors players who have seen their minutes reduced, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun reports. Jonas Valanciunas, Norman Powell and Pascal Siakam, among others, will see their playing time fluctuate depending on the opponent. “We are sharing the minutes. We don’t know what matchups are going to come to us,” Valanciunas told Wolstat. “We have versatility. Just have different things for different matchups. We have different lineups, different people going at some different players.”
  • Nets draft-and-stash prospects Aleksandar Vezenkov and Isaia Cordinier are off to good start overseas, according to a post. Vezenkov, a 6’9” forward has played three Euroleague games for Olympiacos and is averaging 9.7 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 17.0 MPG. Cordinier, a 6’5” shooting guard who plays in the French League, returned to action on Friday after missing last season with knee tendinitis. It’s uncertain whether they’ll pursue NBA careers next season. Another draft-and-stash player, Juan Pablo Vaulet, was sent home by his Argentine team for undisclosed reasons.
  • Sixers guard J.J. Redick believes the Magic made a smart move by trading him to the Bucks five years ago, Josh Robbins of The Athletic reports. Redick was heading into unrestricted free agency at the time but would have liked to finish out that season with Orlando. He would have considered a long-term deal with the Magic that summer. Orlando acquired forward Tobias Harris and two other players in the deal. “The trade for Tobias was definitely in Orlando’s favor,” Redick told Robbins. “You get a guy who’s going to get you 18 [points] and 8 [rebounds] at 22, or whatever age Tobias was at the time. … Things obviously didn’t turn out great for them subsequently, but I think they made the right call.”

Atlantic Notes: Rozier, Celtics, Powell, Redick

With Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart battling injuries down the stretch last season, Terry Rozier stepped into a starting role and showed why the Celtics used their first-round pick on him in 2015. Although Rozier will return to a bench role to start the 2018/19 season, Marcus Morris tells A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston that the 24-year-old is still “a starting point guard in this league.” Meanwhile, head coach Brad Stevens acknowledges that he’ll need to try to find Rozier as many minutes as possible (link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).

As Stevens and the Celtics explore how best to use Rozier on the court, the franchise will also face a looming decision on him off the court, notes Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders. If he doesn’t sign a new extension by October 15, Rozier will be on track for restricted free agency in 2019, and he’s not a slam dunk to be re-signed, since Boston has already committed big money to Smart and will need to re-sign Irving too. Rhodes outlines the options the C’s will have with their young point guard, which include letting him walk, matching an offer sheet, or trading him.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Celtics have been a popular pick to win the Eastern Conference and challenge for an NBA title in 2018/19, but – based on his team’s preseason performances – Brad Stevens wants to pump the brakes on that hype. As Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston relays, Stevens said he “couldn’t be more unimpressed” with the C’s at the moment. “We’re not as good as advertised right now,” Stevens said after a Tuesday loss to Cleveland. “So at least we know that.”
  • Norman Powell has the sixth-highest cap hit on the Raptors‘ roster for the 2018/19 season, but he’ll be hard-pressed to crack the team’s rotation, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. In Smith’s view, Powell will have to recapture his 2016/17 form or “capitalize on the misfortune of others” in order to regain a significant role. Otherwise, he’ll likely remain a trade candidate.
  • Sarah Todd of The Philadelphia Inquirer examines the importance of veteran guard J.J. Redick on a young Sixers team. Redick inked another one-year deal with Philadelphia as a free agent this summer.

Deveney’s Latest: Draft, Raptors, Gilgeous-Alexander

While all five teams at the top of the draft have reportedly been open to the idea of moving down, the odds of any of those teams actually trading a top-five pick may be slim. As Sean Deveney of The Sporting News details, teams that have explored trading up have found the asking price for a top-five selection to be extremely high.

“This is a good draft, a very good draft at the top,” one league source told Deveney. “But the value that teams are placing on these picks is a little unreasonable in some cases.”

The Sixers, Cavaliers, Bulls, and Celtics are among the teams that have looked into trading up. The Clippers, who own the 12th and 13th picks, have also had multiple discussions about that possibility, but if they stay where they are, there’s a sense that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox, and Robert Williams will be among their top targets, per Deveney.

Here’s more from Deveney’s latest round-up of draft rumors:

  • While the Raptors were believed to be considering moving into the lottery to land Gilgeous-Alexander, their trade options are limited, according to Deveney. League sources tell Deveney that Toronto’s most likely deal is a salary dump of Norman Powell.
  • Speaking of Gilgeous-Alexander, he has been a mystery man during the pre-draft process. Appearing on Wednesday at media day, he didn’t shed much light on what he has been up to, telling reporters that he “can’t say” how many teams – or which teams – he has worked out for (Twitter link via Deveney).
  • The Warriors will likely to look to buy a second-round pick, but at least one general manager tells Deveney – perhaps half-seriously – that he hopes teams aren’t eager to accommodate the defending champs. “If anyone sells them a pick, they ought to have their head checked,” the GM joked. “Once that first round is over, everyone needs to just not pick up the phone if [Warriors GM Bob] Myers is calling.”
  • Deveney identifies Duke center Wendell Carter Jr. as one of the wild cards near the top of the draft, suggesting that Carter could go as high as No. 4 to the Grizzlies.

Raptors Gauging Interest In Swingman Norman Powell

The Raptors are gauging interest in Norman Powell prior to the draft, Josh Lewenberg of The Sports Network reports.

Any potential suitor would have to believe the 6’4” swingman has untapped potential, considering his four-year, $42MM extension kicks in next season. Powell was a disappointment in his third NBA season, as his production and playing time tailed off from his sophomore campaign.

He’ll make approximately $9.37MM in the first year of the contract. However, the extension doesn’t kick in until July 1st, which makes him easier to trade before that time. The acquiring team would only have to match or absorb the $1.47MM he made last season to make the trade work. If he’s dealt after this month, the acquiring team would have to match up salaries or absorb his salary from the first year of the extension.

Powell lost his starting spot early in the season and averaged 5.5 PPG, 1.7 RPG and 1.3 APG in 15.2 MPG while appearing in 70 games. His long-range shooting was an issue, as he knocked down just 28.5% of his 3-point tries. He averaged 8.4 PPG and made 32.4% of his 3-point attempts during his second season.

Toronto’s front office believes it has enough depth at the wing positions to deal Powell, Lewenberg continues, and his combination of youth, athleticism and high character could draw some interest. The return would be minimal, Lewenberg opines, perhaps nothing more than a second-round pick. Removing Powell’s salary would give them more cap space to retain restricted free agent Fred VanVleet, which GM Bobby Webster considers his highest offseason priority.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Atkinson, Sixers, Celtics, Sullivan

After a record-breaking regular season, the Raptors once again laid an egg in the postseason, leading to the firing of Coach of the Year candidate Dwane Casey. Now, barring any trades, the team is faced with a potential luxury tax issue with a roster that cannot seem to compete in the weaker Eastern Conference come playoff time.

Eric Koreen of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the luxury tax concerns for Toronto, focusing on who the Raptors could afford to surrender in order to get under the tax threshold while also remaining competitive.

Koreen opines that in a perfect world, the Raptors would probably love to unload one or both of the contracts of Serge Ibaka and Norman Powell, who are scheduled to make over $21.6MM and $9.3MM next season, respectively.

More realistically, the club may decide to let young guard Fred VanVleet sign somewhere else instead of matching what is expected to be an offer in the $7.5MM per season range. Koreen also explores the possibility of moving on from big man Jonas Valanciunas or the player the Raptors used their MLE on last summer – C.J. Miles.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets have been relatively uncompetitive for the last three seasons, but head coach Kenny Atkinson expects significant growth next season, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post. The Nets have limited cap space and traded away their own first-round pick in this month’s NBA Draft, so Atkinson will need to rely on his reputed prowess as a player developer if the Nets hope to show meaningful improvement.
  • Regardless of whether or not the Sixers succeed in signing a superstar free agent this offseason, the team will need to make sure to also sign both a guard with long-range shooting ability who is capable of guarding opposing point guards (e.g. Patrick Beverley) and a backup center capable of protecting the rim when Joel Embiid isn’t on the court, per David Murphy of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • The Celtics‘ first selection in the upcoming draft, barring a trade, isn’t until pick No. 27, but according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, the team can still add some quality wing depth with versatile players such as Gary Trent Jr. or Josh Okogie, both of whom are likely to be available towards the end of the first round.
  • Per Ian Begley of ESPN, former Clippers’ assistant coach Pat Sullivan will join the Knicks staff as an assistant for new head coach David Fizdale. Sullivan, a New Jersey native, worked as an assistant coach for the Pistons when Knicks’ GM Scott Perry was an executive with the team.

Atlantic Notes: Blatt, Allen, Nets Backcourt, Powell

The Knicks continue their search for a new head coach and a pool of nine candidates is slowly starting to shrink. With one interview left this weekend – for Spurs’ assistant coach James Borrego – there is a sense that David Blatt is the best fit in New York, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes.

Blatt has not coached in the NBA since January 2016 when he was fired by the Cavaliers despite a 30-11 record. He has since returned to Europe and continued to coach successfully, and his ability to relate to international talent could benefit the Knicks.

“KP [Kristaps Porzingis] and Frank Nitti [Ntilikina] need him as he is the most qualified to finally make international players that arrive in New York comfortable and productive,” former Knicks European scout Tim Shea said to Berman. “He’d be a godsend.”

As we relayed yesterday, there is a belief that the Knicks are focused on Blatt and Mike Budenholzer, who recently parted ways with the Hawks. Both men bring impressive résumés, but one NBA source close to Blatt tells Berman that his ability to win would be invaluable to a Knicks team coming off another 50-loss season.

“He’s won everywhere he is, won everywhere in Europe,’’ the NBA source said. “This year was supposed to be rebuilding year in Istanbul and he wins the EuroCup. His résumé is impeccable.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes below:

  • Most teenagers are not core pieces for an NBA team’s future, but Jarrett Allen, who spent most of the regular season as a 19-year-old standout for the Nets, is exactly that, Michael Scotto of The Athletic writes (subscription required). “He came along nicely,” an Eastern Conference executive said. “He impacts the game defensively right now with his length. He dunks everything around the rim and has shown a developing jumper. He could be a starter.”
  • With Jeremy Lin expected back to go along with incumbents  D’Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Isaiah Whiteheadthe Nets‘ crowded backcourt will be worth watching, Net Income of NetsDaily writes. All of the aforementioned players bring their own skills and value and head coach Kenny Atkinson enjoys versatility on his roster.
  • While Norman Powell was a key player for the Raptors in the postseason last year, he has gone from X-factor to ex-factor, Dave Feschuck of the Toronto Star writes.