Norman Powell

Siakam, Powell Return To Raptors

Rising Raptors star power forward Pascal Siakam and guard Norman Powell will both return to the starting five for Toronto in Sunday’s game against the Spurs, TSN’s Josh Lewenberg reports (Twitter link). Both will be placed on a minutes limit in their first game back since December. Lewenberg also notes that starting center Marc Gasol remains out (Twitter link).

Siakam, Powell, and Gasol, all Raptors starters, had all been sidelined indefinitely since a December 19 tilt against the Pistons. Siakam had been battling a stretched groin, Gasol a hamstring injury, and Powell a subluxation of his left shoulder.

Siakam is currently third in Eastern Conference All-Star frontcourt balloting, with 1,730,763 fan votes received as of January 9th, according to an Associated Press report (link via SI.com).

A fantastic two-way player, the 6’9″ Siakam had emerged as a borderline MVP candidate with his sterling performance for the 25-13 Raptors. For the 2019/20 season, the No. 27 pick in the 2016 NBA draft out of New Mexico State is averaging career-highs of 25.1 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 3.6 APG, 81.3% free throw shooting, and 39.2% shooting on 6.3 three-point attempts across 27 games.

Powell has also taken a leap this season, logging a career-high slash line of 14.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 4.9 three-point attempts per game. The 6’3″ shooting guard, drafted No. 46 out of UCLA in 2015, is connecting on 38.9% of those looks. Powell has also been appearing in a career-high 28.9 minutes a night for the Raptors.

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.

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.

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: Fizdale, Powell, Nwaba, Temple

A member of the Knicks organization expects management to fire coach David Fizdale soon, Ian Begley of SNY-TV reports. Though that source doesn’t have decision-making authority on those matters, it shows the uneasiness within the organization at the moment, Begley adds. The Knicks have the Eastern Conference’s worst record and have dropped seven straight despite adding several veteran free agents over the summer.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Swingman Norman Powell has returned to the bench with Kyle Lowry back in the lineup but he’ll be an important part of the Raptors’ second unit, Josh Lewenberg of TSN reports. Powell scored 23 points against the Heat on Tuesday. Coach Nick Nurse told Powell, “‘Your role is an off the bench guy for this team, so let’s go kick some butt in this role and start getting used to it.’ And I was proud of him for doing that last night. He was huge.” Powell’s contract runs through 2021/22, with an $11.6MM player option on the final year.
  • Guard David Nwaba doesn’t have a guaranteed spot on the Nets‘ roster but coach Kenny Atkinson said he’s earned more playing time, Zach Brazilier of the New York Post relays. The team will have to make a roster move on December 15 when Wilson Chandler’s 25-game suspension ends and it could come down to Nwaba and Iman Shumpert, who was signed last month. “I’m not worried about that,” said Nwaba, whose salary for 2020/21 is not guaranteed. “I just play my game and worry about contributing.”
  • With Kyrie Irving sidelined by a shoulder injury, Garrett Temple has made a big contribution, Howard Kussoy of the New York Post writes. Temple averaged 12.1 PPG and 2.8 APG during the first eight games Irving missed. Temple’s two-year, $9.8MM contract with the Nets includes a $5MM team option next season. “We all collectively wanted him. Everybody checked a yes box when we were in our recruiting phase, here’s a guy that would fit in well,” Atkinson said. “I’m a little surprised how he’s stepped it up to another level. … I’m really surprised but content.”

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 SI.com).
  • 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).