Pascal Siakam

Trade Rumors: Randle, Mirotic, Raptors, Celtics

The Pelicans remain on the lookout for potential trades involving players besides Anthony Davis, but Will Guillory of The Athletic suggests (via Twitter) that Julius Randle seems unlikely to be moved this week. According to Guillory, Randle has developed a strong bond with the coaching staff in New Orleans and the club has interest in keeping him around long-term.

Another frontcourt Pelicans player, Nikola Mirotic, remains a trade candidate, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who names the Jazz, Trail Blazers, Nets, and Spurs as clubs that have expressed interest in Mirotic. League sources tell O’Connor that New Orleans is seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Mirotic, with one source calling the club’s asking price “excessive.”

Of course, the Pelicans gave up a first-rounder for Mirotic a year ago, but at that time they got a year and a half of team control rather than just a a half-season, and also shed Omer Asik‘s unwanted contract in the deal.

Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • Although the Raptors have been linked to big names like Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, sources tell Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca that a move around the periphery of the roster is far more likely than a major deal. Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca confirms that a move involving Kyle Lowry is “highly unlikely,” but says the Raptors have been aggressive on the trade market and would move anyone on their roster if they feel like it makes them a better team. On the other hand, Toronto has no intention of moving Pascal Siakam unless the club gets a superstar-level return, Lewenberg notes.
  • Before Thursday’s trade deadline, the Celtics may try to attach cash to Jabari Bird in a trade to lower their projected tax bill, tweets Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. However, Bird’s legal issues complicate matters. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) has heard that Boston wants the NBA to expedite a decision on Bird, but the league is in no rush to set a precedent under the CBA’s domestic violence policy.
  • While Nuggets guard Gary Harris has been cited as a potential trade candidate, Matt Moore of ActionNetwork.com hears from a source that Denver hasn’t engaged in any “substantive” trade talks involving Harris and doesn’t currently plan to (Twitter link). While it’s possible that stance could change, Moore thinks the Nuggets would only consider moving Harris in a deal that lands the club a clear upgrade.

Raptors Made Offer For Mike Conley, Marc Gasol?

3:44pm: The Grizzlies would be looking for more than Lowry and Valanciunas in return for Conley and Gasol, according to Mitch Lawrence of Sporting News, who hears that Memphis asked for Pascal Siakam (Twitter link). The Raptors aren’t trading Siakam, but would be willing to include Delon Wright and a future first-round pick, says Lawrence.

Toronto’s 2019 first-round pick is committed to San Antonio, so the 2021 first-rounder would be the next one available.

2:18pm: While the Grizzlies have reportedly been primarily engaged in talks with the Jazz and Pistons for Mike Conley, another potential suitor has entered the mix, according to Jake Fischer of SI.com. League sources tell Fischer that the Raptors have contacted Memphis and offered Kyle Lowry and Jonas Valanciunas in a deal for both Conley and Marc Gasol.

It’s a fascinating offer from Toronto’s perspective, as the second-best team in the East appears willing to give up an All-Star guard and an important rotation piece in a proposal that would reshape its roster. Lowry has been made aware of the Raptors’ trade talks involving him, per Fischer.

On the other hand though, it’s hard to see why the Grizzlies would jump at Toronto’s offer, unless the franchise isn’t totally committed to rebuilding. Lowry has a cap number similar to Conley’s, albeit with a contract that expires a year earlier. Valanciunas has a $17.62MM player option for next season.

By comparison, Utah’s offer for Conley reportedly includes a sizable expiring contract (Ricky Rubio‘s) and a first-round pick. It could also feature a prospect like Dante Exum or Grayson Allen, according to Fischer. Detroit’s offer for Conley is said to include Reggie Jackson and a first-rounder. The Grizzlies are believed to be seriously considering both teams’ offers, per Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Fischer, the Grizzlies turned down the Raptors’ initial offer and would prefer to receive younger players – such as OG Anunoby – and/or draft assets from Toronto.

Meanwhile, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca provides a different perspective, tweeting that he’s heard the talks between the Grizzlies and Raptors were initiated by Memphis and didn’t progress very far.

While Grange’s and Fischer’s accounts on which team initiated the talks seem contradictory, it’s possible both are accurate — perhaps Memphis made the first call and the Raptors, in turn, returned the Grizzlies’ call to let them know what they’d be willing to offer. If the Grizzlies didn’t like what they heard, discussions may not have advanced from there.

Raptors Notes: Leonard, Trade Deadline, Siakam, Miles

Kawhi Leonard will sit out his third consecutive game tonight, once again because of “load management,” tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. After playing just nine games last season because of a quad injury, Leonard’s health has been a priority in Toronto ever since he was acquired in an offseason trade. Eric Koreen of The Athletic examines how this decision has affected the Raptors and why it’s the best strategy to keep him healthy enough for the playoffs and maybe happy enough to re-sign this summer.

“I think he said it from day one that health is most important to him, so being attentive, listening, pushing him, all the things you’d want to do with your own health for your long-term future (are important),” GM Bobby Webster said recently. “… Anything we can do health-wise and medical-wise to progress him is great, so I think that’s a big one for us.”

Koreen notes that Leonard is getting considerations that aren’t extended to other players. For more than a month, Fred VanVleet has worn a wrap on his back when not playing, and Kyle Lowry skipped a planned night off last Thursday. However, VanVleet said the players understand the situation and aren’t resentful toward Leonard.

“He doesn’t have to prove anything if there’s three (games) in four nights, back-to-backs,” VanVleet said. “It’s from a health standpoint, from what we are told. He’s important. We’d much rather have him fresh and ready later than wearing him out right now.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Tax concerns and limited draft picks will affect the Raptors’ options at the trade deadline, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Toronto has the third-highest payroll in the league, which means the third-highest luxury tax bill — projected at $34.7MM without any roster changes. The team sent its 2019 first-round pick to San Antonio in the Leonard trade, which means the 2020 first-rounder is off limits. If this year’s pick doesn’t convey to the Spurs, the Raptors will owe them second-rounders in 2020 and 2023, so those can’t be traded away either.
  • Pascal Siakam is a candidate for a Most Improved Player award this spring and for a rookie scale extension this summer. In a separate story, he tells Murphy the extension would be nice, but it’s not what motivates him. “I think it’s bigger just having an impact on kids,” Siakam said. “That’s why I always say I look up to [team president] Masai [Ujiri] and the things he’s been able to do. ‘Cause when people look at [him], they see a reflection of Africa, and I want to be able to be that way.”
  • After scoring 13 points in back-to-back games, C.J. Miles is hoping for a turnaround in a nightmarish season, relays Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun. Miles has an $8.7MM option for next year that he appears likely to exercise.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Siakam, Trier

A pair of closed-door meetings have helped the Celtics snap a funk that cost them three straight games earlier this week. Since re-committing to communicating effectively, the club has won big against the Hornets and again against the Sixers on Christmas Day.

A. Sherrod Blakeley of NBC Sports Boston wrote about the process that resulted in the Celtics deciding they needed to do a better job of keeping on the same page as one another.

We’re just looking to help one another out, pick each other up. When we’re playing like that, we’re a tough team to beat,” Celtics guard Marcus Smart said.

The Celtics currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference with a 20-13 record.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

Raptors Notes: Lowry, Leonard, Siakam

In advance of an ESPN showdown between two Eastern Conference leaders – the Raptors and Sixers – in Toronto on Wednesday night, Kyle Lowry sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (video link) to discuss a handful of topics, including the offseason trade that sent DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio and his relationship with Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri.

Acknowledging that he felt “some type of way on the personal side” after the Raptors sent his best friend to the Spurs, Lowry didn’t offer much when asked about where things stand with Ujiri.

“He’s the president of basketball operations, and that’s it,” Lowry said. “I come out here and do my job. He does his job and I do my job, right? That’s what you do.”

As Eric Koreen of The Athletic observes in a Twitter thread, Lowry and Ujiri may not exactly be buddy-buddy, but the veteran point guard has talked in the past about how grateful he is for the team’s investment in him. There’s also nothing to indicate that any lingering unease about how the DeRozan trade went down is a distraction for the Raptors or Lowry, who – by all accounts – has been a terrific teammate and leader this season.

Here’s more out of Toronto:

  • The Raptors have been working hard for years to turn Toronto into an attractive destination for NBA players, and Kawhi Leonard‘s upcoming free agency decision will represent the next big test of the club’s place in the league, as Kevin Arnovitz of ESPN.com writes.
  • In an excellent piece for ESPN.com, Jackie MacMullan takes an in-depth look at the unusual road to the NBA traveled by Pascal Siakam, who looks like an early frontrunner for this season’s Most Improved Player award.
  • Despite their league-best 20-5 record, the Raptors have endured some injury woes, rebounding and shooting issues, and some “clunky stretches” this season, writes Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star. In other words, there may be room for improvement. “There have been some ups and downs; it seems like a lot of ups because we’ve been winning a lot,” Lowry said. “The flaws that you see, they’re fixable. If we fix this, imagine how much better we could be.”

Atlantic Notes: Rozier, Siakam, Fisher, Raptors

Celtics guard Terry Rozier is still getting adjusted to his role off the bench, competing with Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown for minutes in Boston’s crowded backcourt. He was the team’s starting point guard in the spring when Irving was sidelined, but has been limited to just 22.7 minutes per game in 10 contests this season.

“I go from starting in the playoffs to coming off the bench … I’m pretty sure it’s not easy for nobody,” Rozier said, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “But I’m not complaining. And, if you know me, I would never be the one to complain about it.

“I would never go to the media or bring out the unhappy thing. Like I said, people that know me know I wouldn’t do that. I’ve never been a selfish type of person, selfish player. You can tell the way I play I’m all about team.

“Everything will be all right. It’s not as bad as people make it seem.”

Bill Simmons of The Ringer tweeted Thursday that Rozier was unhappy with his playing time and that Boston could look to trade him before February’s deadline. At least seven teams would have interest in trading for Rozier, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, but Rozier seems content to stay in Boston for now.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Pascal Siakam‘s early season play has changed the Raptors, playing a key role in the team’s hot 10-1 start, Anisa Jamal of FanSided writes. Siakam has averaged 12.5 points and seven rebounds in 27.9 minutes per game, starting in every contest but one.
  • Derek Fisher wouldn’t have accepted the Knicks‘ head coaching job if he knew running the triangle offense was mandatory, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. “I wasn’t smart enough to ask the right questions going into taking and accepting the job,” Fisher said.
  • The Raptors have remained flexible with their starting lineups, a key component to their success this season, Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times writes. “We’ve got maybe eight starters and we’re giving them a chance to start every once in a while,” said coach Nick Nurse, who labeled the importance of being versatile.

Raptors Exercise 2019/20 Options On Siakam, Anunoby

The Raptors have exercised their 2019/20 rookie scale options on forwards Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, the team has announced in a press release. We learned earlier today that the team would be passing on Malachi Richardson‘s ’19/20 option.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2019/20 Rookie Scale Options]

Siakam’s fourth-year option will count for just $2,351,839 on Toronto’s cap next season, while Anunoby’s third-year option is even more modest, coming in at $2,281,800. The Raptors may be over the tax line again next season if Kawhi Leonard re-signs, but exercising the options on Siakam and Anunoby was an easy decision for the team, given the on-court value the duo provides.

Siakam, the 27th overall pick in the 2016 draft, has started seven of the Raptors’ eight games this season and has looked better than ever, with 10.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.3 APG, and 1.3 SPG, plus a .594 FG%. Anunoby has missed a few games early in the season for personal reasons, but continues to develop into a reliable three-and-D wing.

The Raps will face more decisions on Siakam and Anunoby after July 1, 2019, when Siakam will become eligible for a rookie scale extension and the club will have the opportunity to pick up Anunoby’s fourth-year option for 2020/21.

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 NetsDaily.com 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.”

And-Ones: NBA Africa Game, Global Camp, Upshaw

Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan and Sixers center Joel Embiid will headline the rosters in this summer’s NBA Africa Game, the league announced today. The event, which will take place on Saturday, August 4 in Pretoria, South Africa, will feature a Team Africa vs. Team World format, with Cameroon native Embiid heading Team Africa and DeRozan representing Team World.

Joining Embiid on Team Africa will be fellow NBAers Al-Farouq Aminu, Bismack Biyombo, Cheick Diallo, Evan Fournier, Serge Ibaka, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Pascal Siakam. DeRozan’s teamates on Team World will include Harrison Barnes, Danilo Gallinari, Rudy Gay, Khris Middleton, and Hassan Whiteside.

Here are a few more odds and ends from across the basketball world:

  • A total of 40 draft-eligible prospects from outside the United States will take part in the NBA Global Camp 2018 in Treviso, Italy from June 2-5, the NBA announced on Wednesday. While Luka Doncic won’t attend the pre-draft showcase, there will be plenty of prospects worth watching, including Cedevita forward Dzanan Musa, who is the No. 19 prospect on Jonathan Givony’s big board at ESPN.com.
  • The mother of Zeke Upshaw, the G League player who passed away earlier this year after collapsing during a Grand Rapids Drive game, has filed a federal lawsuit accusing the NBA and the Pistons of negligence. The suit alleges that the defendants failed to provide the Drive with the “the resources, policies, and procedures reasonably necessary” to prevent or handle Upshaw’s collapse. Noah Trister of The Associated Press has the full story and more details.
  • Now that two-way contracts have been in effect for nearly a full year, Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days explores what sort of changes we may see to the rules surrounding those contracts in the future.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Okafor, Embiid

The Raptors reinvented their offense after a memorable offseason press conference in which president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri suggested that change would be coming. As Scott Cacciola of the New York Times, the team’s plan to change it’s mindset without actually changing its roster has actually worked.

With a desire to adapt to the ever-changing NBA landscape, the Raptors charged assistant coach Nick Nurse with the task of modernizing the team’s offense, ushering them from an era of one-and-one play into a new one that rewards ball movement and three-point shooting.

Prior to joining the Raptors, Nurse served as the head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, a G League team that paced the league in three-point attempts during his time there. Already this season, he’s convinced every Raptor, with the exception of Jakob Poeltl, to hoist a three.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors are making the most out of second-year forward Pascal Siakam‘s rare motor, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “That’s something that’s kind of small but it’s huge, because a lot of guys can’t run like him and don’t want to run like him and don’t have the desire to run like him, and he does,” head coach Dwane Casey says. “And he focuses on it. He thinks about it. He knows that’s how he can score, is outrun people down the floor.
  • It wasn’t long ago when Jahlil Okafor led the Sixers in scoring. These days the 21-year-old center can’t even get on the court. The trend seems eerily similar to the Nerlens Noel situation from last season, Sarah Todd of The Inquirer writes.
  • Despite only operating at 81% capacity, Sixers center Joel Embiid believes he’s the NBA’s best defensive player, Keith Pompey of The Inquirer writes. “Not to be cocky, but I think I’m the best defensive player in the league right now,” Embiid said. “I’m still getting better. My blocks are a little down [compared to last season]. I’m a better rebounder this year.