Pascal Siakam

COVID-19 Updates: Wizards, Billups, Thunder, Hornets, Raptors, More

The Wizards now have five players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who told reporters today that Anthony Gill and Thomas Bryant are the latest players to enter the protocols (Twitter link via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington).

Bryant is coming off an ACL tear and has yet to play this season, so being in the protocols won’t affect his availability. However, Gill will no longer be an option in the short term for the Wizards after appearing in eight of the team’s last 11 games.

Here are more COVID-19 updates from around the NBA:

  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups has entered the COVID-19 protocols, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links), who reports that assistant Scott Brooks is expected to become Portland’s acting head coach as long as Billups is unavailable.
  • Aleksej Pokusevski and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl of the Thunder have entered the health and safety protocols, according to the team (Twitter link via Wojnarowski). Aaron Wiggins also briefly entered the protocols, but has since been listed as available, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City now has four players in the protocols.
  • The Hornets announced some good news and some bad news on Monday. While Cody Martin has exited the protocols and has been cleared to play on Monday vs. Houston, rookie Scottie Lewis is now in the protocols, according to the team (Twitter link).
  • Three Raptors players – Pascal Siakam, Khem Birch, and Gary Trent Jr. – have exited the protocols and are listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game vs. Philadelphia as they go through a reconditioning period, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Toronto still has seven players in the protocols, but may finally be trending in the right direction.
  • Celtics forward Grant Williams boarded a flight to Minnesota earlier today and expects to play tonight vs. the Wolves, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Williams has been in the health and safety protocols since December 17.
  • Although Ziaire Williams remains on the shelf due to an ankle sprain, he’s no longer listed in the protocols in the Grizzlieslatest injury report, suggesting he has been cleared.

Pascal Siakam In Health And Safety Protocols

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam has been placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Teammate Dalano Banton is in the protocols as well, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter link).

There’s no word on whether either player tested positive for COVID-19, but if they did, they will miss a minimum of 10 days unless they return two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. They are the first two Toronto players to enter the protocols, according to our tracker.

Siakam has helped the Raptors climb up near the .500 mark after returning in early November from shoulder surgery. He is averaging 19.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists in 17 games. Banton has earned regular playing time in his first NBA season, averaging 4.1/2.3/1.8 in 12.7 minutes per night through 27 games.

Blazers Notes: Cronin, Lillard, McCollum, Trade Targets, Luxury Tax

Blazers interim general manager Joe Cronin said the roster requires some changes and vows it will happen, Mark Medina of NBA.com tweets. “We know there’s something we need to do with the roster, and we will,” he said.

Cronin has “constant communications” with Damian Lillard about the roster. Cronin also indicated that Lillard and CJ McCollum are “happy” with head coach Chauncey Billups and his staff.

Cronin says he has the backing of the team’s ownership, Medina adds in another tweet. “They told me they believe in me,” he said. “They haven’t made many declarations other than this is a nice venue for you to do good work, you’ll be evaluated and you’ll have a chance.”

Cronin was the team’s director of player personnel before GM Neil Olshey was fired last week.

We have more on the Blazers:

  • HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto and Yossi Gozlan discuss trade scenarios involving McCollum — currently out with a collapsed lung — and the search for new GM in a podcast. Scotto believes the franchise should pursue trades for their backcourt stars and start a rebuild.
  • Gozlan explores potential trade targets for McCollum, including Ben Simmons, Pascal Siakam, Myles Turner and others, in a separate HoopsHype story.
  • Whether they make big or small moves, the Blazers have to find a way to get under the luxury tax threshold, The Athletic’s John Hollinger writes. They’re currently $3MM over the tax line and it’s not worth paying that price, given the team’s current issues.

Atlantic Notes: Siakam, Sixers, Barrett, Thibs

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam continues to struggle through foul trouble, writes Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. As NBA referees across the league strive to limit calling fouls against “non-basketball” offensive flop plays, looks at the charity stripe in general are taking a significant dive. Siakam, however, continues to be whistled for fouls. The 2020 All-Star has averaged a career-worst 3.5 fouls per contest across 12 games this season and has already fouled out of two games.

“We can’t go through this (foul trouble) every night like this,”  Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said of Siakam. “It seems to me he’s just getting himself just a half-count late on some stuff.”

Siakam himself appears to be trying to be more sensitive to fouls called against him as the year progresses for the 10-13 Raptors. “If I’m going to have a foul I would rather it be an actual foul preventing someone from scoring or a foul I actually want to give,” Siakam noted. “Just staying away from the cheap ones and hopefully the gods will be on my side one of these days and I won’t foul out.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Determining a reasonable expectation for this strange Sixers season is proving difficult, opines Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The team has been felled by various injuries, extended COVID-19 absences, and of course the continuing Ben Simmons drama. Philadelphia is currently 12-11, good for the ninth seed in the East.
  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau sounded optimistic when addressing the recent shooting slump of RJ Barrett, per Ian Begley and Phillip Martinez of SNY.tv“I have a lot of confidence in [Barrett] being able to work his way out of it,” Thibodeau said after Saturday’s game. “When you throw in he’s been sick, and to me you get rhythm when you work. Last year, he got going when he started coming in every night to shoot. So there’s no notion that you (work on your shot in the gym at night) sometimes, you got to do it all the time. So get back in the gym, get back to grooving your shot. Shoot a lot of threes and you’ll start making more.” The 21-year-old Barrett is connecting on just 39.6% of his field goal attempts in his third NBA season.
  • Thibodeau has opted to give the slumping Knicks, losers of three straight, a day off to regroup, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “[Who] we are as a team, how we built this team and this culture is just fighting defensively, the togetherness, just the effort, the hustle plays,” reflected New York forward Julius Randle of the club’s ethos. “And I think sometimes, we’re too lax. We might think the little details don’t matter sometimes or whatever it is, but we’ve just got to understand to get out of this we’ve got to do it together.” The Knicks are currently 11-12 on the young 2021/22 season.

Atlantic Notes: Siakam, Fournier, Durant, Harden

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam erupted for 32 points and eight rebounds against Sacramento on Friday, his sixth game after recovering from shoulder surgery. Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets that Siakam, who bounced back from a four-point game against Utah, is still trying to gain a rhythm.

“Last game I felt like I was running in mud the whole game,” Siakam said. “It’s just waking up every day continuing to push forward knowing it’s going to be tough, but once I get that rhythm and my legs under me I know what I can do, and I have to focus on that.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Evan Fournier, the Knicks’ major sign-and-trade acquisition this summer, hasn’t been playing in fourth quarters lately and it’s been an adjustment for the swingman, Mark Sanchez of the New York Post writes. “I think the situation right now is I don’t know how many minutes I’m going to play, so I have to have the mindset of: If I’m going to play 20 minutes, then just come out the gate with extreme energy,” he said. “Being very alert. Being ultra-aggressive. And trying to have an impact.”
  • Kevin Durant missed his first game of the season on Friday due to a shoulder ailment. The Nets are trying to figure out how much to play Durant and James Harden during the regular season without wearing them out prior to the postseason, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. “I think that we definitely are going to look for our spots to protect them,” Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said. “We just have to be very strategic. We’re a new team trying to find itself and trying to form that identity. Those guys are super-competitive, so they want to play. It’s a tricky balance.”
  • The league’s crackdown on offensive moves in which players move into defender’s bodies to draw fouls has affected Harden. He’s going to the line less and committing more turnovers, Sanchez notes. The Nets star says he’s still getting used to the new parameters. “We’re in a little bit of a funk right now in a sense of just everything,” Harden said.

Raptors Notes: Boucher, Dragic, Siakam, Banton

Nothing has gone as planned for Raptors big man Chris Boucher this season and it’s hard for him to explain why, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. After a breakout season in 2020/21 in which he averaged 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 60 games, Boucher has seen his playing time cut nearly in half as his numbers across the board have plummeted. His shooting has been particularly troubling as he has dropped from 51.4% to 37.2% from the field and from 38.3% to 18.4% from three-point range.

“I feel like I’ve been searching to get that feeling again, feeling like you’re doing the right thing and in the right spot,” Boucher said. “I’ve been missing that feeling … I’m not satisfied. These 10 games I played like I couldn’t play or wasn’t the player I’m supposed to (be).”

The slow start may be partially explained by a surgical procedure on a sprained finger that caused him to miss the preseason. Smith notes that Boucher didn’t return with the same energy and his shooting stroke was off as his misfired on 27 of his first 33 three-point attempts.

“I was doing so good in training camp, and then you get hurt in preseason,” Boucher said. “The team gets chemistry (when) you’re out of it. You’ve got to find a way to introduce yourself to the team.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • An injury to Fred VanVleet forced the Raptors to turn to Goran Dragic for the first time in three weeks Saturday night and the veteran guard logged a season-high 28 minutes, per Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Dragic may still be unlikely to finish the season with Toronto, Koreen adds, but he provides creativity and can be useful on a fill-in basis. “I was out of breath, but it was fine,” Dragic said. “I found out before the game so I was a little bit surprised, but I was ready.”
  • Pascal Siakam played nearly 35 minutes on Saturday and it appears his minutes restriction is about to be lifted, Koreen states in the same piece. Siakam played his third game since returning from shoulder surgery and has been lobbying the team’s director of sports science to clear him for full-time duty.
  • Rookie Dalano Banton, who has bounced back and forth between the Raptors and the G League, played for the fourth straight night Saturday, Koreen adds. “He’s carved out a role on this team maybe faster than anyone expected,” coach Nick Nurse said. “It was a little bit of a tricky situation, playing four in four. He wanted to play. There were some things he wanted to work on. For the big picture, it’s a good move for him and for the team.”

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Barnes, Ujiri, Rebuild

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, who returned from shoulder surgery on Sunday vs. Brooklyn, was limited to 25 minutes and admitted he felt some fatigue in his first game action since May.

“It was tough,” Siakam said, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. “After my first three minutes I think I needed some gas or something. My legs were heavy and I think I couldn’t breathe at one point, but it was expected.”

While getting Siakam back in the lineup makes the Raptors a more well-rounded and dangerous team in the long term, there may be some growing pains in the short term, writes Steven Loung of Sportsnet.ca. The 27-year-old is one of the club’s go-to scoring options, meaning the players that stepped up in his absence will have to adjust – or readjust – to new roles.

“Everybody else is kind of affected by him coming back,” point guard Fred VanVleet said. “He’s going to play heavy minutes and have the ball and he’s going to be a big part of the offense. So, offensively, I think it’s just finding our rhythm and spacing and the flow and learning how to play with Pascal. For me it was great. I missed playing with him. The other guys who were playing with him for the first time, there will probably be a little bit of a learning curve.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Count Nets superstar Kevin Durant among those who have come away impressed with what they’ve seen from Raptors rookie Scottie Barnes. “You’ve got a lot of guys who love to compete and love to win, but what’s more rare about Scottie Barnes is his IQ for the game, his length, his enthusiasm for the game. All of that stuff shines bright when you watch him play,” Durant said after Sunday’s game (link via Sportsnet.ca). “He knows how to play the right way and he’s only going to get better.”
  • In a Q&A with Louisa Thomas of The New Yorker, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri spoke about his desire to grow the game of basketball in Africa, the Raptors’ experience in Tampa, and why he decided to sign an extension with the franchise, among other topics.
  • The Raptors look ahead of schedule in their rebuilding process, in the view of William Lou of Sportsnet.ca.
  • In case you missed it, our Offseason in Review story on the Raptors was published earlier today.

Raptors Notes: Dekker, Bonga, Siakam, Barnes

The Raptors‘ decision to waive Sam Dekker came down to Isaac Bonga having more of the qualities that the organization values, writes Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. Both players were signed to partially guaranteed deals and had agreed to delay their guarantee dates until today, but keeping both would have inhibited Toronto’s ability to get below the luxury tax threshold.

Dekker improved his outside shot while playing in Turkey last season, but Bonga is 6’8″ with a 7-foot wingspan and can play several positions. At 21, he’s five-and-a-half years younger than Dekker and may be a better investment for the future. Even though Dekker only got into one game for the Raptors, coach Nick Nurse said it wasn’t an easy choice on which player to keep.

“It was pretty close all the way,” Nurse said. “Isaac probably just kind of filled the role that we want. He’s got size, he’s kind of a versatile defender, he’s on the offensive glass. He’s kind of a real role-playing guy that we think we can throw in there at any time. He’s good enough to get into games right now, to be honest with you, but we can’t play everybody. … We were real close on it. Sam was awesome. He spent a lot of time with us from the moment, all the way back from when we first looked at him in the sort-of open run situation, and he spent a lot of time working the job. But it’s the tough side of it, man. Tough side. Sorry to see him go.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Bonga has only played seven total minutes this season, but the Raptors believe he can handle a rotation spot, Murphy adds. He got consistent playing time during his two years with the Wizards, and Toronto identified him as a low-cost target in free agency. Murphy believes the best move for Bonga is to get consistent playing time in the G League, but he and the players union would have to sign off on the move because he’s in his fourth NBA season.
  • Pascal Siakam is ready for his season debut Sunday after recovering from shoulder surgery and he likes what he has seen from the Raptors in their 6-4 start, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. “I wanted to be out there throughout the whole process,” he said, “but I’m excited to be back out there and just be with your teammates and do whatever I can to help.”
  • Friday’s game with the Cavaliers featured a matchup between two early favorites for Rookie of the Year, and both Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley looked like worthy candidates, according to Steven Loung of Sportsnet.ca. While scoring has a major effect on the voting, Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff notes that Barnes and Mobley are special because of what they provide on defense. “Both of those guys are uniquely framed,” he said, “they’re mobile and agile and it gives them an opportunity to be impactful defensively.”

Pascal Siakam To Return On Sunday

NOVEMBER 6: Siakam will return from shoulder surgery on Sunday against the Nets, Nurse said today, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link). He’ll be on a minutes restriction and it’s unclear whether he’ll start.


NOVEMBER 5: Raptors forward Pascal Siakam might return to the team’s lineup next week. Head coach Nick Nurse said that Siakam is “getting closer every day,” according to a series of tweets from Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

Nurse stated that Siakam has made significant progress in his return from shoulder surgery, noting that he is ahead of schedule. He will likely start out on a minutes restriction. Siakam was in Los Angeles earlier today receiving clearance from the doctor who performed the surgery, but returned to Toronto and was doing some work on the court before the game tonight versus the Cavaliers.

Nurse also said next Wednesday could be a good opportunity to see whether Siakam is ready to play, as there are two days in between Toronto’s matchups with the Nets on Sunday and the Celtics on Wednesday.

All of the information was relayed by Lewenberg.

Siakam was an All-Star for the first time in 2019/20, but struggled with his shot last season. He’ll be looking to return to form for the surging Raptors, who have won five in a row and are now 6-3.

Here’s a couple more Raptors injury notes:

  • Forward Yuta Watanabe has been inching closer to a return. Nurse said Watanabe’s movement has improved recently in practices but he’s still “probably a little bit away,” per Lewenberg (Twitter link).
  • Rookie Scottie Barnes, who missed a couple games with a sprained thumb, returned to the starting lineup tonight against the Cavs.

Agent: Pascal Siakam Could Be Back Within Two Weeks

Agent Todd Ramasar, who represents Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, told Justin Termine of NBA Today on SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link) that Siakam is set to re-join his teammates on the court within two weeks.

Siakam tore his left labrum in May, and went under the knife to surgically repair the injured shoulder in June. The 27-year-old recently resumed practicing with the club, as well as with its G League affiliate, Raptors 905, as he continues to rehabilitate.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweets that Siakam’s shoulder needs to be given the green light by his surgeon in Los Angeles. Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca notes (via Twitter) that Siakam’s timeline remains aligned with the Raptors’ original projection for his return following the surgery five months ago.

The 6’9″ forward was a crucial part of Toronto’s 2019 championship-winning team, and is hoping to bounce back following an underwhelming performance for the lottery-bound Raptors in 2020/21. After leading the Raptors to the second round of the NBA playoffs and being named to his first All-Star team in 2020, Siakam appeared to regress on both sides of the ball last season. Toronto finished with a 27-45 record while playing its home games in Tampa, and missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2012/13 season.

Veteran team leader Kyle Lowry was shipped to the Heat in an offseason sign-and-trade. The Raptors selected exciting forward Scottie Barnes out of Florida State with the fourth pick in the 2021 draft. In seven games, Barnes is looking like a serious Rookie of the Year contender, averaging 18.1 PPG on 55.1% shooting from the field, along with 8.9 RPG. As a 6’9″ tweener forward, Barnes could be a long-term replacement for the veteran Siakam.

For now, it will be interesting to see how head coach Nick Nurse opts to juggle his starting lineup. He had been starting Barnes and ascendant 6’7″ swingman OG Anunoby at the forward positions, with 6’5″ Gary Trent Jr. starting at shooting guard. One of this triumvirate could head to the bench upon a Siakam return.