Norman Powell

Atlantic Notes: Tatum, Powell, Sixers

Rookie Jayson Tatum is looking even more effective in a free-flowing NBA offense than he did at Duke. Mike Schmidt of ESPN broke down the first-year forward’s impressive showing with the Celtics thus far, curious as to whether or not what he’s shown is sustainable.

While Tatum has always been known to pull off acrobatic plays on offense, his ability to make quicker decisions and shoot reliably from beyond the arc has helped him thrive in the Celtics offense. Further, his improved defense has only added to his NBA stock.

Credit Tatum for not trying to do much in his rookie campaign, perhaps that’s a benefit of landing in the rotation of a winning team fresh off an Eastern Conference Finals appearance. There are still areas where he could improve, however, including at and around the rim, where he currently falls in the 33rd percentile.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • When Norman Powell returned from a hip injury, the Raptors tried reinserting him into their second unit. Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes that the third-year forward has thrived coming off the bench. “I think Norman likes that, he’s kind of the star of the show with that second group,” head Dwane Casey said. “He’s done a good job of adapting and going with both groups (but), with Delon Wright out, he’s a natural fit with that group and he’s done a good job.
  • While the Cavaliers may be the team to beat in the conference for now, the Celtics and Sixers are the future of the East, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston writes. Both teams have impressive lineups as it but boast future assets that can help down the road as well.
  • The Sixers have put themselves in an enviable position financially but eventually the day will come that the team has to start clearing contracts in order to pay their young players who are current under rookie contracts. Derek Bodner of The Athletic took a deep dive into the team’s long-term salary cap projections.

Atlantic Notes: Powell, Billups, Ntilikina

The Raptors may be without forward Norman Powell following Sunday’s matchup with the Celtics. A TSN report says that the third-year swingman left the arena on crutches after sustaining a hip pointer but no further details are available at this time.

In 11 games with the Raptors this season, the 24-year-old has averaged 9.0 points and 2.2 assists per game, both modest improvements over his 2016/17 figures.

Shortly after the conclusion of the game, one in which Powell played just seven minutes prior to the injury, the Raptors recalled Alfonzo McKinnie from their G League affiliate.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Not surprisingly, some players on the Knicks aren’t fond of LeBron James suggesting that the club should have drafted Dennis Smith Jr. over Frank Ntilikina. “This is my rookie. This is my team. This is my organization. I cannot just let [James] disrespect [Ntilikina] like that,” Enes Kanter told Fred Kerber of the New York Post. “Frank’s doing an unbelievable job. Every day he’s working really hard.”
  • The Sixers can take pride in the fact that NBA champion and former MVP Stephen Curry is fond of their young players. “These are young guys coming in and doing amazing things. It will be fun to get to know them on the court. They’re tough. Their story is great for the league,” Curry told Chris Haynes of ESPN.
  • For three days this week, Chauncey Billups shadowed Knicks general manager Scott Perry, Marc Berman of ESPN writes. The former Pistons guard has been flagged as a future executive and was even offered the Cavaliers‘ GM job over the course of the summer. Billups’ relationship with Perry dates back to when the guard was in high school.

Raptors Sign Norman Powell To Extension

OCTOBER 8, 10:22pm: The extension has been finalized, according to a tweet from the Raptors.

OCTOBER 5, 12:54pm: The Raptors have reached an agreement on a contract extension with swingman Norman Powell, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. According to Wojnarowski, the deal – which will go into effect for the 2018/19 season – will be worth $42MM over four years, and includes a player option for the final season.Norm Powell vertical

Powell, 24, is entering his third year in the NBA, but wasn’t a first-round pick when he entered the league, which makes him eligible for a contract extension a year earlier than many of his fellow 2015 draftees.

For a player in Powell’s position, the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement allows for an extension with a starting salary worth up to 120% of the estimated average salary, with subsequent 8% annual raises. It looks like that’s the deal he’ll get — Josh Richardson, another 2015 second-rounder, signed a similar extension with the Heat earlier in the offseason.

[RELATED: 2017 NBA Contract Extension Tracker]

A former UCLA standout, Powell took on a more significant role in his second season with the Raptors, averaging 8.4 PPG and 2.2 RPG in 76 regular season contests (18.0 MPG). Powell’s minutes increased following the February trade of Terrence Ross, and he was a key contributor in the postseason, upping his averages to 11.7 PPG and 3.1 RPG to go along with a .441 3PT% in nine playoff games.

With P.J. Tucker, DeMarre Carroll, and Cory Joseph among the offseason departures for the Raptors, Powell figures to become an even more crucial part of the club’s rotation going forward, giving him a chance to enjoy a breakout season in 2017/18. According to Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link), the Raps were concerned about being unable to afford Powell as a restricted free agent next summer and even quietly shopped him around prior to the draft — the team is likely thrilled to lock him up at a price just above the mid-level exception.

While the Raptors secured Powell at a fair price, the franchise will now have to worry about luxury tax payments in future seasons. Assuming Toronto picks up its 2018/19 options on Jakob Poeltl, Delon Wright, and Pascal Siakam, the team was already projected to have more than $115MM in guaranteed salary on its ’18/19 cap even before the Powell extension. Powell’s deal will add another $10MM to that total, pushing the Raps over the projected tax threshold.

If staying out of the tax – or even just creating more cap flexibility – is important to the Raptors, Masai Ujiri and the front office may push to eventually find a taker for Jonas Valanciunas, who is set to earn $16.5MM+ in 2018/19.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Powell, Russell

The Celtics made a number of headlines with their acquisitions of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving this summer. Now, A. Sherrod Blakely of CSN New England writes, it’s time to focus on who might make up the core of the team’s second unit.

Having traded Avery Bradley in a cap clearing maneuver to sign Hayward, the Celtics will turn to Terry Rozier to serve as a game-changer off the bench. His ability to pick up scoreer on the perimeter will be valued, as will his ability to knock down shots now that Isaiah Thomas is a Cavalier.

Another player who could see a bigger role with the Celtics in light of the Irving trade is Jayson Tatum. The third-overall pick will see extra opportunities than the C’s may have initially expected now that Jae Crowder is out of the picture.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • While he may well end up playing through the final year of his rookie contract and hitting restricted free agency next summer, Raptors guard Norman Powell is also eligible to sign a contract extension before the start of the regular season. Blake Murphy of The Athletic writes that such a deal could look similar to that which Josh Richardson recently signed with the Heat.
  • Just how well D’Angelo Russell responds to his change of scenery in Brooklyn could impact Nets general manager Sean Marks‘ legacy, Brian Lewis of the New York Post suggests.
  • If Michael Beasley was brought in specifically to replace Carmelo Anthony in the Knicks lineup, it’s news to him. The forward is eager to play alongside the 14-year veteran. “Listen, Carmelo’s been like my mentor,” Beasley told Steve Popper of USA Today. “If you watch my game, really watch my game, my jab series, all that, I’m literally just Carmelo on the left side of the floor. Like I’ve known Carmelo since I was 13 years old, one of my best friends, one of the best players I’ve ever met. Me and him are from the same area. I can’t wait to play with him.”

Lowry Meets With Casey, DeRozan

Three weeks after officially opting out of the last year of his contract with the Raptors, Kyle Lowry met up with head coach Dwane Casey and two teammates in the Bay Area, Chris Haynes of ESPN reports.

DeMar DeRozan and Norman Powell are said to have joined the coach and point guard, the former even flying in from Los Angeles specifically for the event.

Per a Haynes source, one of Casey’s objectives during the meeting was to expose his players to the culture of the NBA Finals.

At this point, whatever else the group may have discussed is merely speculation but Lowry is expected to attract considerable interest on the market when he hits unrestricted free agency on July 1.

In his season-ending press conference last month, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri spoke about changing the culture in the organization. Some initially interpreted that to mean that a coaching switch could be forthcoming.

Not long after, however – as we outlined on May 11 – Ujiri suggested that he still has faith in the coach and appears willing to give him the opportunity to change the team’s playing style himself.

Community Shootaround: Shooting At The Buzzer In Decided Game

Count Courtney Lee among the latest NBA players to complain about opponents putting up shots in the final seconds of a decided game. On Friday night the Grizzlies laid waste to Lee’s Knicks, culminating in rookie Wade Baldwin IV standing at half-court with the ball and a 10-point lead as the game clock neared expiration.

Just before time ran out, however, Baldwin hoisted a deep three and nailed it. The basket pushed the Grizzlies above the triple-digit mark earning Memphis fans in attendance free chicken.

Lee, unhappy to lose by 10 but considerably angrier losing by 13, went after the rookie but was thwarted by a handful of Grizzlies veterans.

For him to do that, what are you doing it for, bro?,” Lee told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “Think about the people who’s doing it. They got bad luck in this league. … I don’t know what made him want to do it.”

Lee’s reaction is a common one among NBA players but should it be?

Just last week Lance Stephenson incited his own commotion by adding a layup in the final seconds of a win over the Raptors. Then, Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan called the moot field goal “disrespectful to the game“. This, naturally, was followed up by Stephenson exposing an instance of DeRozan’s teammate Norman Powell doing similar to the Sixers earlier this season.

Ultimately, the NBA and fan community that drives it need to decide what is permissible in the waning seconds of a ball game and what’s just sour grapes. In response to the Stephenson/Raptors theatrics, Bobby Marks of The Vertical  tweeted “I’m so tired of these unwritten rules in basketball. If you don’t want a player to shoot at the end of the game then play some D.

On one hand, it’s easy to empathize with players like Lee or DeRozan who see the unnecessary field-goal attempts as salt in the wounds of a fresh defeat. On the other, its a thin line expecting everybody to subscribe to the same unwritten rules of a game.

Should players adopt Marks’ stance and play defense if preserving a spread is so important to them? Or should players on the winning end know not to shoot when the game is out of reach?

Factors to consider are that some veterans will go so far as to let the shot clock expire before hoisting a shot at the buzzer resulting in their being assigned a turnover. Another is the fan factor, such as that which was in effect for Baldwin IV. Reaching certain point milestones, usually 100 points, can sometimes trigger benefits for fans in attendance. Does this impact the appropriateness of a last second basket?

You tell us in the comments below!

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Raptors, Oakley, Lin

Sixers center Joel Embiid claims he’s “more surprised than everybody else” how well this season has gone after he was sidelined two seasons by foot injuries. During the interview with ESPN Radio, Embiid admits he entertained thoughts of retiring during those lost seasons. “I was such in a dark place, I wanted to quit basketball,” Embiid said.  “I just wanted to go back home and just leave everything behind.” Embiid pines for the Rookie of the Year award, saying it would be validation for the sacrifices he made to get back on the court. He’s hopeful of returning soon after the All-Star break after missing the last 11 games with what he describes as a left knee bone bruise, though he reportedly has a partial meniscus tear.

In other news around the Atlantic Division:

  • The  Raptors do not want to part with young assets now that they’ve made a big move by acquiring power forward Serge Ibaka, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. Toronto would prefer to hold onto Delon Wright, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira, Pascal Siakam, Norm Powell and Fred VanVleet, Smith continues. They could still package Jared Sullinger‘s expiring contract, a 2017 first-rounder and one of their backup point guards to make another move, Smith adds.
  • Charles Oakley doubts his issues with Knicks owner James Dolan will ever be resolved, Newsday’s Jim Baumbach relays via a Sports Illustrated interview. Despite a meeting with commissioner Adam Silver and Dolan earlier this week, Oakley is still fuming over his forcible removal from Madison Square Garden and arrest on February 8th.  “My life is going to change a lot because it’s just like getting a DUI sometime or going to jail for murder,” he told SI. “It’s something on my record. If you Google my name, it’s going to come up. And that hurts.”
  • Nets point guard Jeremy Lin is expected to return to action immediately after the All-Star break, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. Lin practiced on Tuesday without any setbacks, according to NetsDaily.com. Lin’s season has been wrecked by hamstring woes. Signed to a three-year, $36MM contract last summer to be the team’s No. 1 point guard, Lin has appeared in just 12 games.

Raptors Notes: Ibaka, Ujiri, Biyombo, Powell

Power forward Serge Ibaka, who was acquired Tuesday in a trade with the Magic, won’t be making his Raptors debut tonight, the team announced (Twitter link). Ibaka passed his physical and was available for the game, but Michael Grange of Rogers SportsNet tweets that Toronto coach Dwane Casey decided to hold him out after today’s walkthrough, citing a hectic past 36 hours. Ibaka’s first game in a Raptors uniform will take place after the All-Star break on February 24th.

There’s more news out of Toronto:

  • The Ibaka deal raises the stakes for the Raptors, Grange writes in a full story. Ibaka fills an obvious need for Toronto and immediately becomes the organization’s most experienced postseason player. Grange calls it a risk-free trade and notes that Pascal Siakam, Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira have made most of the starts at power forward this season after having a combined seven career starts coming into this year. “I think our team needed a boost, to be honest,” said team president Masai Ujiri“and we’re at that point where I think everybody knows, it’s not rocket science, that [a starting power forward] was a missing link on our team.”
  • Ibaka said he heard great things about Toronto from former Magic teammate Bismack Biyombo long before the trade took place, relays Josh Lewenburg of TSN Sports (Twitter link). Biyombo spent last season with the Raptors before signing with Orlando in July. “He always told me stories,” Ibaka said. “… He loves it here.”
  • Second-year shooting guard Norman Powell can expect more playing time with Ross gone, according to Lewenburg (Twitter link). However, Casey wants Powell to concentrate more on defense and less on shooting than Ross did. Powell is averaging about 17 minutes and 7.2 points through 52 games.

Atlantic Notes: Pierce, Celtics, Powell, Nets

Long-time Celtics star Paul Pierce expects an emotional scene Sunday when he plays his final regular season game in Boston, writes Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Pierce is finishing his 19-year NBA career as a little-used reserve with the Clippers. He has appeared in just 12 games this season, averaging about 12 minutes per night. But L.A. coach Doc Rivers plans to play him tomorrow to give Boston fans one last chance to salute one of their favorites. “I played under the lights of retired numbers, a lot of legends, man,” Pierce said. “So that right there is pressure in itself when you’re out there trying to hold the franchise down and you see the numbers and then you look up and Bill Russell, [Bob] Cousy, [John] Havlicek and all them are in the stands and you’re trying to live up to the expectations that they put [for] the franchise.”

There’s more tonight from the Atlantic Division:

  • Pierce would consider working for the Celtics after his playing career ends, relays Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. “That’s a possibility,” Pierce said. “Me and [general manager and president of basketball operations] Danny [Ainge] stay in contact, so that’s a possibility.”
  • Toronto  should consider giving a larger role to shooting guard Norman Powell, argues Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. The slumping Raptors have lost eight of their last 10 games and are dealing with injuries to DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Patterson. Smith contends that giving Powell some time at small forward would improve the team’s defense and maximize his ability to drive to the basket.
  • A long season of losing is starting to break the Nets‘ spirits, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn sank to an NBA worst 9-41 with Friday’s home loss to the Pacers. “I think it’s just human nature,” said coach Kenny Atkinson. “I think we’re searching, and when you’re searching and it’s not flowing, I think that’s where the hesitation is right now. And I’ve definitely seen that seeped in. So what we’re trying to do is show them our corrections and stuff we can get better at.”

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Porzingis, Powell, Sixers

The Celtics will include one of their main backcourt pieces if they make a major trade, Chris Mannix of The Vertical anticipates. Boston will have trouble affording the quartet of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier in the long run and can’t add an impact player without shedding one or more of them, Mannix continues. Smart is eligible for an extension next summer and will command a starting salary of at least $10MM, while Thomas and Bradley can become free agents in the summer of 2018. It will take a good chunk of the salary cap to retain both, in Mannix’s view. The starting backcourt can also have their contracts renegotiated this summer but Mannix is skeptical that GM Danny Ainge would eat into future cap space to make that happen.

In other developments around the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis and other players with rookie contracts will get a significant boost in pay once the new CBA is ratified, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Porzingis will receive a 15% increase next season and a 30% bump in the final year of his four-year rookie-scale deal, Berman continues. Sources informed Berman that Porzingis’ revised salary will increase from $4.5MM to $5.1MM next season and from $5.6MM to $7.3MM in 2018/19.
  • The Raptors need another elite player to become true title contenders but they should try to hold onto shooting guard Norm Powell, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun opines. Powell has the ability to play three positions and could play some minutes at point guard if Toronto includes current backup Cory Joseph in a blockbuster deal, Wolstat continues. In any case, coach Dwane Casey should try to give Powell, 23, more consistent minutes, Wolstat adds.
  • Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor will continue to start together in the Sixers’ frontcourt during their upcoming West Coast swing, Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com reports. According to Seltzer’s research, that duo has 52 shared minutes over the Sixers’ last four contests, producing an offensive rating of 95.0 points per 100 possessions, and a defensive rating of 113.3 points per 100 possessions.
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