Pascal Siakam

Raptors Notes: VanVleet, Anunoby, Siakam, Hernangomez

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has the ability to become an unrestricted free agent next summer if he turns down his player option for the 2023/24 season. At Monday’s Media Day, he and team president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri were noncommittal about whether a contract extension will get done in the coming weeks, but both sides expressed enthusiasm about continuing the relationship, as Josh Lewenberg of relays (Twitter links).

“I’ll just say I love being a Raptor,” VanVleet said. “… There’s nothing I could ever complain about being on this team. You guys will know when it’s time to know, but I’m happy with where I am and I think it’s a mutual love.”

Ujiri stated that the team is in a “good place” with VanVleet after some initial extension conversations.

“Whether it’s now or later on, Fred is beloved to us,” Ujiri said. “… Hopefully we’ll figure (it out).”

Here are a few more notes out of Toronto:

  • O.G. Anunoby told reporters today that he was “surprised” by an offseason report claiming that he was unhappy with his role on offense, tweets Michael Grange of I haven’t really talked about role with (head coach) Nick (Nurse),” Anunoby said. “We’re all just trying to get better and everything will fall into place.”
  • After making an All-Star team and earning a pair of All-NBA nods, Pascal Siakam is setting even higher expectations for himself, telling reporters today that his goal is to become a “top-five” player in the NBA. “I want to be one of the best and I’ll do whatever it takes to get there,” Siakam said, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link). “I’m ready for it. It’s time.”
  • Before he signed with the Raptors, Juancho Hernangomez spoke to fellow Spaniards Marc Gasol, Jose Calderon, and Sergio Scariolo about the franchise and the city of Toronto, tweets Lewenberg. The input Hernangomez received from former Raptors assistant Scariolo, in particular, played a major part in his decision.
  • The Raptors let their tender window for Jalen Harris lapse, which made him an unrestricted free agent and allowed the Knicks to sign him outright, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet and The Fan 590. Toronto had the ability to retain Harris, but the team already had a full camp roster and opted to let him go.

Atlantic Notes: Layman, J. Jackson, Celtics, Raptors, Sixers

When they signed with the Celtics, Jake Layman and Justin Jackson both received one-year, minimum-salary contracts that are non-guaranteed. However, the terms of those agreements are slightly different — Layman got an Exhibit 10 clause in his contract, while Jackson’s deal is an Exhibit 9, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Both Layman and Jackson are ineligible to have their contracts converted into two-way deals because they have too many years of NBA service under their belts. But Layman’s Exhibit 10 contract makes him eligible to receive a $50K bonus if he’s waived before the season and then spends at least 60 days with the Maine Celtics, Boston’s G League team.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Atlantic Notes: Brogdon, Nets, Raptors, Niang

Speaking to Spencer Davies of, new Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon said the franchise’s history is one important reason why he was excited to be traded from Indiana to Boston this offseason.

“I mean, they’re the most winning organization in the league, and I think they’re more hungry to win than anybody,” Brogdon said. “You can see that with the move they made for me and (Danilo) Gallinari. They want to improve. They want to win a championship. It’s all about Banner 18 for ’em. Now that’s all it’s about for me as well, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

Brogdon also talked to Davies about Gallinari’s injury, the role he thinks he can play in Boston, and his involvement with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program. The conversation is worth checking out in full for Celtics fans.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Harden, Rivers, Simmons, Raptors, C’s

The NBA is not only investigating whether the Sixers violated tampering rules prior to free agency but also whether they have a handshake agreement with James Harden after the star guard declined his $47.4MM option and took a pay cut, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps in an appearance on NBA Today (video link).

Harden signed a two-year deal for $68.6MM that includes a player option. The league is concerned whether the Sixers front office, led by president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, already has another agreement in place with Harden regarding a future contract.

The league “could potentially levy a really big penalty” against the Sixers if that occurred, Bontemps said.

On the same show, a clip from The VC (Vince Carter) Show was broadcast in which 76ers coach Doc Rivers denied that the Sixers knew Harden would opt out and re-sign: “I guarantee you that Daryl had no idea what James was going to do.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Rivers also spoke about the Ben Simmons situation, saying that Simmons essentially overreacted to issues he had in Philadelphia (video link). “What frustrated me was that I still think (his issues) shouldn’t have been enough to want to leave,” Rivers said. “I told Ben that and I kept telling him that. That’s not why you want to leave a team. You work these things out and they didn’t get worked out.”
  • Raptors stars Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam could sign lucrative extensions this offseason but will likely to decide to wait, as Eric Koreen of The Athletic explains. VanVleet could sign a four-year contract extension worth approximately $114MM right now but might get more money down the road if he waits and remains productive. Beginning in October, Siakam could sign a three-year extension in excess of $125MM. However, Siakam — who has two years left on his current deal — could also get more by putting extension talks on the backburner.
  • The Celtics are hiring Craig Luschenat as a player development coach, Jared Weiss of The Athletic tweets. Luschenat has been on the staff of the team’s G League affiliate in Maine.

Kevin Durant Rumors: Price Tag, Raptors, Pelicans, Warriors

Reporting from the Las Vegas Summer League, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says there’s skepticism among league insiders that a Kevin Durant trade will happen anytime soon, and a sense that the situation could linger into training camp.

According to Scotto, five executives he spoke to in Vegas felt as if Minnesota overpaid to acquire Rudy Gobert and increased the Nets‘ asking price for Durant in the process, creating a larger gap between what Brooklyn wants and what potential suitors are willing to give up. One GM told Scotto that he believes Durant is worth “a James Harden-type package.” It’s unclear if that’s a reference to the price paid for Harden by the Nets or the 76ers.

Scotto suggests it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Nets hang onto Durant for a while and wait for a “Godfather offer.” If that offer doesn’t come, the Nets may hope the former MVP changes his mind about wanting a trade and is satisfied to remain in Brooklyn at least for the time being.

Here’s more on the Durant market from Scotto:

  • The Raptors are still “hesitant” to include Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes in any offer for Durant, league sources tell HoopsHype. Scotto speculates that a package centered around Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. could be Toronto’s starting point, but notes that the Nets would want more. Scotto is unsure how willing the Raptors are to put OG Anunoby in a package for Durant.
  • According to Scotto, multiple executives are skeptical that the Pelicans will make a strong push for Durant instead of seeing how a healthy Zion Williamson meshes with the promising roster that made the playoffs in 2021/22. Scotto adds that some execs also believe Durant wouldn’t want to be dealt to New Orleans.
  • The Warriors wouldn’t be inclined to give up all of their promising young players – Jordan Poole, James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody – in a trade for Durant, says Scotto.
  • According to Scotto, some rival executives think the Spurs and Pacers are preserving their remaining cap room to see if they can be a salary-dumping ground in a multi-team Durant trade, netting draft assets in the process.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Irving, Raptors, Siakam, Knicks

Rival teams believe the Nets would be open to making a sign-and-trade deal involving Kyrie Irving this offseason, Ian Begley of writes. Irving could turn down a $36.5MM player option to enter unrestricted free agency.

The 30-year-old appeared in 29 games this season, averaging 27.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.8 assists per contest. He missed much of the season because of New York City’s vaccine requirement, which prevented the team from building needed chemistry.

Finalizing a sign-and-trade agreement involving Irving would be challenging, given that his value isn’t at its peak right now. Whether or not Kyrie is back, the Nets intend to target high-character players this offseason to complement Kevin Durant, according to Begley.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic:

  • Blake Murphy of puts together a Raptors free agency primer, highlighting the team’s free agents, draft picks and general outlook. Toronto is coming off a season in which it finished with the fifth-best record in the Eastern Conference at 48-34. The team lost in six games to Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs.
  • Raptors star Pascal Siakam discussed receiving All-NBA honors for the second straight season, as relayed by Michael Grange of Siakam made the All-NBA Third Team this season, averaging 22.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. “Going through what I’ve been through as a person and as a basketball player it makes me grow,” Siakam said. “And knowing how fast things can change, I also understand the responsibility that I have to keep the pressure on, keep my foot on the gas, knowing that there’s always [new] levels I can get to.”
  • Fred Katz of The Athletic examines the Knicks’ offseason in his latest mailbag. New York missed the playoffs this season after an impressive 2020/21 campaign. The team owns the No. 11 pick in the draft and has center Mitchell Robinson entering unrestricted free agency.

2021/2022 All-NBA Teams Announced

The 2021/22 All-NBA teams have officially been announced by the NBA. For the fourth straight season, Bucks All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was unanimously selected to the All-NBA First Team by a voter panel of 100 media members. Antetokounmpo, 27, is making his sixth All-NBA team overall.

Antetokounmpo, reigning MVP Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, and Mavericks point guard Luka Doncic received the most votes. Suns All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker and Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid rounded out the list of top five vote-getters. Because the All-NBA teams, unlike the All-Star squads, require just one center per team, Embiid was relegated to an All-NBA Second Team placing.

Below is a list of the three All-NBA teams. Vote tallies are listed in parentheses next to player names. Five points were awarded to players for a First Team Vote, three points netted for a Second Team vote, and one for a Third Team vote. Antetokounmpo earned a perfect 500 points.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Jazz center Rudy Gobert and shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, Heat center Bam Adebayo and small forward Jimmy Butler, Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, Bucks guards Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, Grizzlies shooting guard Desmond Bane, Suns small forward Mikal Bridges, Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, and Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet all received All-NBA votes. Surprisingly, Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who played in just 29 games this season, also received a single vote.

As we previously outlined, the All-NBA selections come with significant financial ramifications. As a result of being named to All-NBA teams, Booker and Towns have become eligible for super-max extensions that would begin in 2024/25. If they’re signed this offseason, those deals would be for four years and would start at 35% of the ’24/25 cap. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN (via Twitter), they currently project to be worth $211MM apiece.

Young’s five-year contract extension, which was signed last August and will go into effect in 2022/23, will now be worth 30% of next season’s cap instead of 25% by virtue of his All-NBA selection. Based on a projected $122MM cap, that means it’ll be worth about $212MM instead of $177MM.

Jokic had already met the super-max requirements prior to this announcement, since he won last year’s MVP award — he’s eligible to sign a five-year, super-max extension this offseason and has said he plans to do so. Doncic, who signed a maximum-salary contract extension last summer, also previously met the super-max criteria by earning All-NBA nods in 2020 and 2021.

Notable players who are not eligible this offseason for super-max deals include Morant and Bulls shooting guard Zach LaVine. As Marks tweets, Morant needs to make the All-NBA team again in 2023 to qualify for a starting salary worth 30% of the cap (instead of 25%) on his next deal.

LaVine, a free agent this offseason, would have been eligible to earn up to 35% of next season’s cap from the Bulls if he had made an All-NBA team, but will instead be able to earn no more than 30% of the ’22/23 cap on his next contract.

With their inclusions, Morant, Booker, and Young are making their All-NBA team debuts. Meanwhile, on the other side of the NBA aging curve, two 37-year-old veterans further cemented their Hall of Fame credentials during the 2021/22 season. James made his 18th All-NBA team, while Paul was named to his 11th All-NBA team.

Sixers Optimistic About Joel Embiid’s Return

Joel Embiid will miss the first two games of the Sixers‘ series with the Heat, but the team is hopeful that he can be ready for Game 3 or 4, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Embiid, who suffered an orbital fracture and a mild concussion in Thursday’s game, still must clear the league’s concussion protocol, Wojnarowski notes, adding that he will also see a doctor this week to see how much the orbital fracture has healed.

Embiid was injured late in Game 6 against Toronto when Pascal Siakam accidentally elbowed him in the face. Siakam has apologized, according to Justin Grasso of Sports Illustrated.

“Obviously, on the play [after], I feel bad — awful that I hit his face — but I was trying to make a move,” Siakam explained. “I apologized to him after that. You know, that was definitely not my intention.”

Sixers coach Doc Rivers, who has been criticized for still having Embiid in the game with a 29-point lead and less than four minutes remaining, defended his decision on Saturday.

Raptors Notes: Barnes, Offseason, Young, Achiuwa

The Raptors were unable to complete a historic comeback after falling behind 3-0 in their first-round series with the Sixers, getting blown out in the second half of Thursday’s Game 6. Still, Toronto exceeded expectations this season, having come into the year as a projected lottery team.

“I think we took a lot of steps,” standout forward Pascal Siakam said after Thursday’s loss, per Josh Lewenberg of “We got a lot better over the season. It was obviously up and down, but we did get better. Knowing this team and our front office and the people that we have in the organization, I know that the goal is to continue to get better and improve and be a way better team next year.”

Besides getting an impressive bounce-back season from Siakam, who is a legitimate All-NBA candidate, the Raptors saw players like Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr. take another step forward and Precious Achiuwa evolve from a roll of the dice into a potential long-term cornerstone.

The team’s biggest win, according to Lewenberg, was the selection of Scottie Barnes in last year’s draft — it’s “impossible to overstate his importance” to the team and its future on the heels of his Rookie of the Year debut, Lewenberg writes.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Despite the strides the Raptors made in 2021/22, there are important areas that need to be addressed. In particular, the club needs to add more shooting, writes Michael Grange of Toronto’s lack of shooting was its undoing against Philadelphia, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who notes that the team made just 7-of-35 (20.0%) three-pointers in Game 6 and 29.9% for the series. While Fred VanVleet‘s injury absence contributed to those struggles, the team could still use another outside threat or two.
  • Upgrading the bench will be another top priority for the Raptors this summer, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) writes in his offseason preview. Toronto has Bird rights on both Thaddeus Young and Chris Boucher and could re-sign them without dipping into its mid-level exception. The front office has also shown a knack for identifying young talent outside of the draft lottery, Marks adds, so the No. 33 pick could be useful for adding an inexpensive contributor.
  • Within his preview, Marks notes that VanVleet will become extension-eligible in July and Siakam will become eligible for a new deal in October. Both players are on contracts that run through 2024, though VanVleet has a player option for 2023/24 and could theoretically become a free agent in ’23.
  • Speaking on Friday to reporters, Young conveyed how impressed he was with the Raptors after coming over from San Antonio at February’s trade deadline. This organization is elite,” Young said, per Lewenberg (Twitter link). “One of the top I’ve ever been a part of… I loved everything about this experience. As far as the team, the sky is the limit… This team can be really, really scary.” Young added that his family will be his top priority as he enters free agency and didn’t rule out the possibility of undergoing surgery on his injured thumb (Twitter links via Koreen and Grange).
  • The pairing of Achiuwa and the Raptors represents a perfect marriage between a player and an organizational philosophy, Koreen writes for The Athletic. The team’s willingness to experiment with Achiuwa rather than trying to rein him in or pigeonhole him has paid dividends so far, says Koreen.

Atlantic Notes: Siakam, Simmons, Smart, Maxey

The Raptors, down 3-0 in their first-round playoff series against the Sixers, need more production from star forward Pascal Siakam, but criticism of the 2020 All-Star should be nuanced, writes Josh Lewenberg of

Siakam underwhelmed during the team’s 104-101 Game 3 overtime loss on Wednesday, scoring just 12 points on 6-of-16 shooting, a far cry from the 22.0 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 6.5 APG he put up in the team’s two games in Philadelphia. Siakam also missed all five of his field goal attempts during the game’s second half and overtime.

Lewenberg writes that Sixers starting power forward Tobias Harris handles chief defensive duties on Siakam outside the paint, while All-Star center Joel Embiid guards him inside. Siakam has struggled to adjust to the defensive attention, but Lewenberg cautions that the 28-year-old still has room to grow, even after his six NBA seasons.

“I think for me, I just gotta stay aggressive, get to my spots and live with the results,” Siakam said. “I think that the experience from just being in the playoffs, we all learn from it. Even players that have been in the league a long time, that [have] been in many playoff games, I’m sure that there’s some series where they learn something about themselves or about their game or how they can evolve.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • In what has been a topsy-turvy kind of season for the Nets, it is perhaps fitting that the newest star player, Ben Simmons, is set to play for the first time in the fourth game of a playoff series, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Lewis observes that, should the Nets lose to the Celtics again tonight, Simmons will be rejoining the club as it faces a 3-0 deficit. Mental health issues and a desire to be traded resulted in Simmons opting to sit out while with the Sixers, prior to being traded in exchange for James Harden at the deadline. A back injury has hampered him since joining Brooklyn.
  • Celtics guard Marcus Smart, the newly-minted 2022 Defensive Player of the Year, hasn’t just been excellent on defense in helping Boston achieve a 2-0 series edge against the Nets, writes Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald. He is also averaging 16.0 PPG and 5.5 APG across the team’s first two playoff contests. After spending years as a combo guard, his emergence as a passer may be surprising some, but not Smart. “To hear people say I’m not a point guard or, oh my gosh, I can’t believe he’s a point guard — I was a top-six pick, as a point guard,” Smart said. “I was chosen as a point guard — for some reason. It is funny but I just continue to keep getting better, working on my game, and not really worried about everybody else.” Team president Brad Stevens praised Smart’s ability to handle plays mapped out by head coach Ime Udoka. “He’s got a lot of the qualities that really good point guards have,” Stevens said. “I think what we wanted to do this year, and Ime and his staff has done a really good job of coaching to, is we wanted to be big and versatile.”
  • Second-year Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has taken significant strides this season, and that has continued apace during the team’s first-round matchup against the Raptors. Tim Bontemps of ESPN details Maxey’s rise, noting that he put in the hours during the offseason to grow his game as a long-range shooter. “In my exit interview [last season], my goal was to get one percent better every single day,” Maxey says. “I stuck with it the entire summer.” After shooting 54.7% from the restricted area during his rookie season, Maxey converted 60.5% of his looks around the rim this year. He also saw his three-point shooting improve from making 30.1% of his 1.7 looks a night last year to 42.7% on 4 attempts this year. “I would get up, and I’d be in the gym,” Maxey said of his prep as a three-point shooter during the offseason. “First one in the gym at 6 a.m. and I’d try to make at least 700, 800 shots. And then I’d go lift and I’d come back again at 10 [a.m.] and I’m doing the same thing.”