Otto Porter

Raptors Notes: Trade Returns, Porter, Barnes, Achiuwa

If the Raptors become sellers at the trade deadline, what could they get in exchange for Fred VanVleet or Gary Trent Jr.? How about Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby? Eric Koreen comes up with hypothetical trades for all four players in a pair of articles for The Athletic, and his colleagues evaluate whether opposing teams would accept them.

Jovan Buha believes the Lakers would agree to a deal for VanVleet if the Raptors wanted Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, Max Christie and a 2027 first-round pick. As for the team’s All-NBA forward, Joe Vardon thinks the Grizzlies would package Tyus Jones, Danny Green, Jake LaRavia, Ziaire Williams, 2023, 2025 and 2027 first-round picks, a 2024 first-rounder (via Golden State), and a 2024 second-rounder (via Toronto) in exchange for Siakam.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • The Raptors’ current front office has generally drafted well, and they have done exceptionally well in trades, but they have not had success in free agency, and Otto Porter Jr. is the latest example of that, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Lewenberg points out that the Raptors have operated over the salary cap for several years, which limits their ability to sign pricier free agents, but the list of players the team has signed in the past several years is “uninspiring.” Porter is out for the season after undergoing foot surgery.
  • Scottie Barnes has had an inconsistent second season, but he’s played better of late, Lewenberg writes for TSN.ca. “He’s just settling in,” Siakam said after Thursday’s 124-114 win over Charlotte. “I see the confidence. He’s not forcing anything, he’s just playing basketball the way that he knows how to and it’s showing. I think that sometimes we get so caught up in the numbers and what people are expecting from [us]. You’ve just got to go out there and play, and I think he’s starting to understand that.” If Toronto is able to turn things around in the second half of the season, Barnes will likely be a big reason why, according to Lewenberg.
  • Precious Achiuwa missed a significant portion of the season with an ankle injury, but he’s helped stabilize the second unit since he returned to action, per Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. The third-year big man is still working on his conditioning, but head coach Nick Nurse praised his aggression on Thursday. “I really liked the way Precious took the ball to the basket,” Nurse said. “He didn’t get a ton out of it, but that will come. I mean, he got one (foul call), maybe. He got another one where he got clobbered but (didn’t get the call); I like it. If he keeps going in there, he’s going to get rewarded and get a dunk or get to the free-throw line a little bit. I like the aggressiveness.”

Otto Porter Jr. Undergoes Season-Ending Foot Surgery

Otto Porter Jr. won’t play again in 2022/23, according to the Raptors, who announced today in a press release that the veteran forward has undergone surgery on his left foot and will be sidelined for the rest of the season.

“This was a tough decision for Otto,” Raptors general manager Bobby Webster said in a statement. “He had hoped to avoid surgery, but ultimately a decision had to be made to ensure his long-term health. We look forward to his healthy recovery.”

After winning a championship ring as a key rotation player for the Warriors last season, Porter signed a two-year, $12.3MM contract with the Raptors as a free agent. However, his first year in Toronto has essentially been a write-off.

Porter’s made his Raptors debut on November 2 after recovering from a hamstring strain. Just 12 days later, on November 14, the 29-year-old exited a game early due to a left foot ailment, referred to as a dislocated toe. He hasn’t played since and appeared in just eight games in total, averaging 5.5 PPG and 2.4 RPG in 18.3 MPG.

Porter’s lost 2022/23 season makes it a virtual lock that he’ll exercise his $6.3MM player option for next year.

The Raptors, meanwhile, have until January 15 to apply for a disabled player exception, which would be another tool at their disposal as they consider possible roster moves. A DPE for Porter would be worth $3MM (half of his $6MM salary) and would give Toronto the ability to sign a player to a rest-of-season contract worth up to that amount or to acquire a player (via trade or waiver claim) on an expiring contract. It would not open up an extra roster spot, however.

Raptors Notes: January, Achiuwa, Porter, VanVleet

This January will be one of the Raptors‘ most important regular season months in the last decade, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who writes that Toronto’s year could begin one of two ways — either the team starts playing better and begins to fulfill its promise, or its struggles continue and Masai Ujiri will have to seriously consider whether to break up the Raptors’ core.

The crucial month got off to a disappointing start on Monday as the Raptors lost 122-114 to the Pacers in Indiana, falling to 16-21 on the season. It’s the type of game Toronto will need to start winning more often than not, but Indiana looked like the deeper and better team on Monday, says Koreen.

The Raptors’ schedule leading up to the trade deadline is favorable, as Koreen writes, with 14 of 19 games against teams currently in either play-in or lottery position. They’ll also play their next six games at home, so if they’re going to make a move up the standings, it will probably need to start soon.

Here’s more out of Toronto:

  • Big man Precious Achiuwa, who had been out since November 9 due to a right ankle injury, returned to the court on Monday and recorded three points and three blocked shots in 12 minutes. He admitted after the game that his conditioning could use some work, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. “I was so out of breath it was crazy,” Achiuwa said of his first four-minute stint. “I was so tired I couldn’t even drink water. It felt like I was going to pass out.” He added that he began to feel better during his later minutes.
  • Asked today if Otto Porter Jr. is making progress in recovery from his foot injury, head coach Nick Nurse didn’t offer much reason for enthusiasm, tweets Lewenberg. “He’s not, he’s not,” Nurse said. As Lewenberg notes (via Twitter), the hope was that Porter, who saw a specialist for his dislocated toe in mid-December, would be able to avoid surgery and return in January, but his outlook is cloudier now.
  • Prior to Monday’s loss to Indiana, Fred VanVleet said he welcomes a tough-love approach from Nurse and is prepared to dish out some of that tough love to his teammates too if need be. “What would you rather have? Somebody rubbing your shoulders and telling you everything’s going to be OK? No,” VanVleet said, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “We’ve got a standard around here that we try to play to, and it’s not even results-based. It’s based on performances, and the last couple performances where we just don’t show up to play, that’s unacceptable.”

Raptors’ Anunoby Expected To Miss At Least One Week

After missing Sunday’s game in Orlando due to left hip soreness, Raptors forward OG Anunoby is expected to remain on the shelf for another week before being reevaluated, tweets Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

According to Koreen, imaging on Anunoby’s hip injury didn’t show anything “troubling,” so it sounds like it shouldn’t be a long-term problem. Still, the timing isn’t great for the injury-plagued Raptors, who are already missing two other rotation players in their frontcourt.

Veteran forward Otto Porter Jr., who is dealing with a dislocated toe, visited with a specialist and it was determined that surgery isn’t necessary at this point, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). However, head coach Nick Nurse expects Porter to be sidelined for another month, Lewenberg adds.

Meanwhile, forward/center Precious Achiuwa has done some light on-court work in practice as he recovers from an ankle injury and is said to be making progress. But Toronto still doesn’t anticipate having him back in action until sometime in January, tweets Lewenberg.

On the plus side, after missing the last four games due to a right ankle sprain, Raptors forward Juancho Hernangomez practiced on Tuesday and should be activated for Wednesday’s game vs. Sacramento, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. With Anunoby, Porter, and Achiuwa all unavailable, Hernangomez figures to reclaim a spot in the club’s regular rotation.

Atlantic Notes: O. Porter, Achiuwa, R. Williams, Nets, Warren

Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr. is scheduled to meet next week with a specialist about his dislocated toe, head coach Nick Nurse said on Friday (Twitter link via Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca). The hope is that the appointment will bring some good news on Porter’s potential return to action — he has been sidelined since November 14 due to the injury and still isn’t doing any on-court work.

Meanwhile, Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa is targeting late December for his return to the court, Grange adds. Achiuwa has been on the shelf since November 9 after sustaining partial ligament tears in his right ankle.

Here are a few more notes from around the Atlantic:

  • Despite some speculation that he could make his season debut on Saturday vs. Golden State, Celtics big man Robert Williams has been listed as out on the team’s official injury report, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Williams repeatedly referred to himself as “day-to-day” and didn’t rule out the possibility of returning from his knee injury during Boston’s current West Coast road trip, which continues in Los Angeles on Monday (vs. the Clippers) and Tuesday (vs. the Lakers).
  • Within a look at the Nets‘ rebounding struggles, Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscriber link) cites two sources – NBA analyst Stan Van Gundy and a veteran Eastern Conference executive – who believe the club needs to add another big man to address the issue. “They need help,” the Eastern Conference exec told Lewis. “They absolutely need another big.”
  • Kevin Durant has liked what he’s seen so far from teammate T.J. Warren, who scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting while chipping in three assists and a pair of steals on Friday in his best game since joining the Nets. “We’re over there on the bench saying like, man, he just finds his way to the basketball, to the rim a lot, cuts, he just feels like he’s in the right position on the offensive side of the ball. And defensively, he’s good at getting into the ball, creating turnovers,” Durant said, according to Lewis. “So yeah, I mean he looked good. It’s going to get even better as he gets more comfortable and gets his legs up under him.”

Injury Notes: GPII, Beal, Allen, Holiday, Connaughton, O. Porter

Trail Blazers guard Gary Payton II, who is recovering from abdominal surgery, is getting closer to a return, but isn’t quite ready to make his regular season debut, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.

“He’s still progressing,” head coach Chauncey Billups said after the Trail Blazers practiced on Monday. “Not ready to play yet. He’s doing more and more. I don’t have a timeline.”

As Fentress details, Payton traveled with the Blazers during their six-game road trip that concluded on Saturday and said last week that he was “close.” However, the team is taking a cautious approach and wants to ensure that the veteran guard is 100% healthy before he takes the court.

Payton signed a three-year, $26MM+ contract in July with the Blazers, who have played well even without one of their top offseason additions available. Their 9-4 record puts them in a tie for the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

Here are a few more health-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Wizards star Bradley Beal will return to action on Wednesday vs. Oklahoma City after missing five games due to COVID-19 and reconditioning, tweets Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.
  • Although J.B. Bickerstaff‘s comments on Sunday suggested the Cavaliers hoped Jarrett Allen would be back for Wednesday’s game vs. the Bucks, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link) hears from a source that Allen isn’t expected to travel to Milwaukee with the team.
  • In a Twitter thread, Eric Nehm of The Athletic provides a series of health-related updates on Bucks players, noting that Jrue Holiday (ankle sprain) and Pat Connaughton (calf strain) both practiced on Tuesday, though their statuses for Wednesday’s game vs. the Cavs are to be determined. Holiday has missed Milwaukee’s last three contests, while Connaughton hasn’t played yet this season.
  • Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr., whose debut with the team was delayed by a hamstring injury, is sidelined again, this time due to a dislocated toe, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. It’s unclear how much time Porter might miss, but he has already been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. Miami.

Atlantic Notes: Udoka, Durant, Embiid, Raptors

The Nets may be having second thoughts about hiring Ime Udoka as their next head coach, tweets NBA reporter Marc Stein, who hears that “strong voices” are warning owner Joe Tsai about the potential move. Udoka emerged as the “strong frontrunner” for the job almost immediately after the decision to part ways with Steve Nash was announced last Tuesday.

However, league sources tell Stein that people close to Tsai are warning him to reconsider any commitment to Udoka considering the atmosphere of turmoil in Brooklyn. Udoka would bring additional baggage after being suspended for the season as Celtics head coach following an affair with a team staffer.

Jacque Vaughn continues to serve as interim coach and has led the Nets to a 2-1 record, with back-to-back road wins over the weekend.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Nets star Kevin Durant is interested in being part of the ownership group for the NFL’s Washington Commanders if the team is put up for sale, per Nick Friedell of ESPN. Durant is a long-time fan of the team, but he might have competition from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and recording artist Jay-Z if current owner Dan Snyder decides to sell. “Our market is incredible,” Durant said. “There’s a lot of support in D.C., a lot of money in D.C. to be made. … Regardless of what’s going on, they pretty much built that team up, built that stadium, built the brand up pretty nicely. I know we’ve had some losing seasons, but it’s starting to come around for us. I’m excited as a fan. I’m excited about the sale. I’m excited to see who they bring in and who they sell the team to and see how we move forward with it.”
  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers believes there’s a “75% chance” Joel Embiid will return tonight after missing three straight games with an illness, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “He looked good,” Rivers said after watching Embiid at Sunday’s practice. “I mean listen, he had the flu and it’s hard. Your lungs are burning and he [still] looked pretty good.” Rivers plans to run the offense through Embiid while James Harden is sidelined with a strained tendon in his right foot. Harden is wearing a walking boot, and the foot is currently non-weight-bearing, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
  • The Raptors will need someone to replace the contribution of Pascal Siakam while he’s out of action with an adductor strain, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Veterans Thaddeus Young and Otto Porter looked good in Sunday’s win over the Bulls. “They just know kind of where to be … so that felt like the right move, playing those guys tonight just because the schemes were pretty tricky,” coach Nick Nurse said.

Raptors Notes: Barnes, Trent, Porter, Boucher, Koloko

The Raptors haven’t missed a beat with All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet (back) unavailable for the last two games, recording blowout wins over Atlanta and San Antonio. Reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes has been the team’s primary de facto point guard, recording a season-high eight assists on Monday vs. Atlanta and five more in San Antonio on Wednesday.

Barnes has displayed improvement as both a shooter and a play-maker in the early parts of the 2022/23 season, showing that his development after last year’s impressive debut is right on track, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

As Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes, the Raptors’ strong performances this week – along with Barnes’ strides as a play-maker – are proof that the team should be able to cut back VanVleet’s minutes a little when he returns, even without a reliable traditional point guard on the depth chart behind him.

VanVleet averaged a team-high 37.9 minutes per game last season and was slowed by injuries by the time the playoffs rolled around. In his first six contests this season, he averaged 38.0 MPG.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • With a player option in hand for 2023/24, Gary Trent Jr. is in a potential contract year and is off to a good start, Grange says in another Sportsnet.ca story. While Grange doesn’t necessarily expect Trent to match the $120MM+ deals signed by Tyler Herro and Jordan Poole, who are more talented ball-handlers and play-makers, he notes that Trent is a good defender whose offensive stats (20.0 PPG on .450/.382/.783 shooting in eight games this season) continue to improve.
  • Otto Porter Jr. didn’t play a huge role in his Raptors debut on Wednesday, but head coach Nick Nurse is excited about what the team’s top offseason free agent addition can provide. “I’m just hoping he can do what he’s done, which is make open threes,” Nurse said on Wednesday, per Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. “He’s a really good rebounder, especially positionally. He’s got some good length, so hopefully he can play some defense as well. But really, the perimeter shooting is his specialty and it’s something we could use.”
  • Chris Boucher, who also signed a multiyear free agent contract with Toronto over the summer, is a developmental success story for the Raptors, Koreen contends in a story for The Athletic. Considered a raw “tweener” when he first joined the team, Boucher has become one of the Raptors’ most reliable and productive reserves.
  • In the early part of the 2022/23 season, the Raptors rank first in the NBA in fast break points, steals per game, and defensive rebounding rate, using a terrific transition offense to make up for their subpar half-court production, as Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) outlines.
  • In the same Insider article at ESPN, Lowe also touches on the early impact of rookie big man Christian Koloko. Toronto is allowing just 97 points per 100 possessions with Koloko on the floor, which is better than Milwaukee’s league-best rate of 101.3 points per 100 posessions.

Injury Notes: Butler, AD, FVV, Porter, Grimes

Jimmy Butler has been ruled out for Wednesday’s game vs. Sacramento due to hip tightness, the Heat announced (via Twitter). It will be Butler’s first missed game of the 2022/23 season after being sidelined for 25 contests last season.

The injury doesn’t sound very serious and the Heat are likely just being cautious with their star forward on the second night of a back-to-back, with Butler helping lead a comeback victory over the Warriors on Tuesday. The 33-year-old is averaging 21.5 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 5.5 APG and 1.5 SPG on .470/.391/.873 shooting through eight games (35.5 MPG) for the 3-5 Heat.

Here are some more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Anthony Davis is determined to play through his lingering lower back pain, writes Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. Davis was clearly wincing at various moments during the Lakers‘ first win of the season against Denver on Sunday, and head coach Darvin Ham said he asked the star big man if he needed to leave the game. “I gestured, ‘Do you need a break?’ And he was like, ‘Nah.’ He waved me off,” Ham said. “He wants to dispel that myth that he’s never available. He’s had some unfortunate injuries over the last couple of years, but I can tell you right now, man, he’s been nothing short of monstrous since I’ve shown up.” Davis will play Wednesday against the Pelicans after previously being listed as questionable, sources tell Chris Haynes of TNT (Twitter link). Ham confirmed the news to reporters, Goon tweets.
  • Like Davis, Raptors guard Fred VanVleet is also dealing with lower back soreness, and will miss his second consecutive game on Wednesday vs. the Spurs. On the positive side for the Raptors, free agent addition Otto Porter is available for the first time this season after dealing with a hamstring injury and then being away from the team for the birth of his daughter (Twitter links via Josh Lewenberg and Kayla Grey of TSN Sports).
  • Second-year guard Quentin Grimes, who has been sidelined with a sore left foot to open 2022/23, is available to make his regular season debut for Wednesday’s against the Hawks, the Knicks announced (via Twitter). Head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters that Grimes wouldn’t have a minutes restriction, but said his use would be “situational” while he attempts to rebuild his conditioning after appearing in just one preseason game (Twitter links via Fred Katz of The Athletic and Ian Begley of SNY.tv). New York leads Atlanta 65-57 at halftime, but Grimes has yet to play.

Atlantic Notes: Young, Porter Jr., Maxey, Simmons

Veteran forward Thaddeus Young has played sparingly for the Raptors and he’s surprised by his lack of playing time, he told Josh Lewenberg of TSN.

“It’s tough,” he said. “It’s definitely a tough situation to be in but I’ve just got to bear with it and continue to be there for my teammates, continue to trust in what I’m doing as a player, and hopefully when the time comes I’ll be ready to go out there and take care of business.”

Young has only appeared in four games, averaging eight minutes when he’s seen the floor. Young is signed through next season but only $1MM of his 2023/24 salary is guaranteed.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr. has been ruled out against Atlanta on Monday due to personal reasons, Lewenberg tweets. Porter, who has also dealt with a hamstring injury, is expected to return later in the week. However, he will likely require a full practice or two before making his season debut, Lewenberg adds.
  • Tyrese Maxey has made 46.8% of his 3-pointers this season and Joel Embiid says his Sixers teammate needs to increase his long-range attempts, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. “He’s one of the best shooters and he has the potential to be up there. You know, a great stroke,” Embiid said. “He can really shoot the ball, great form and he makes them. There’s a reason I’m always on him to just let it fly. He’s got to get up 10 to 15 threes a game. That’s how good of a shooter he is.”
  • While the Nets are off to an awful start, Ben Simmons hasn’t lost any confidence in the team’s long-term prospects, according to Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. “I believe we can be the best team in the NBA,” Simmons said. The former No. 1 overall pick is off to a slow start after missing last season, averaging 6.2 points, 6.5 rebounds and 7.2 rebounds per game.