Pascal Siakam

Atlantic Notes: Aldridge, Celtics, Thibs, Raptors

Speaking to reporters for the first time since signing with the Nets, big man LaMarcus Aldridge discussed his willingness to fulfill whatever role Brooklyn has in mind for him, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. Aldridge started at center in his Nets debut tonight, a 111-89 victory over the Hornets. He scored 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting from the field, pulled down nine rebounds, and dished out six dimes.

“I’m just trying to bring value, try to bring the things I’m good at, and trying to help this team win,” Aldridge said to reporters following a Nets practice Tuesday. “I’m not worried about being an All-Star anymore.

“If you could start, you’re always going to want to start,” Aldridge added of his potential role with the Nets. “As far as minutes, I think if you go out and you compete and you do everything you can, everything is going to be fine. And we’re all here to win, so it’s not about that.”

Aldridge did draw the start tonight. Nicolas Claxton earned the lion’s share of bench minutes at center, and DeAndre Jordan was a healthy scratch. The team rested oft-injured veteran power forward Blake Griffin given that the game took place on the second night of a back-to-back.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics did not acquire their top trade or buyout targets, and rival front office executives believe their days as a top East threat may be over for now, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report. Boston had to settle for the third-most coveted Orlando trade target in shooting guard Evan Fournier, and was unable to lure big men Andre Drummond or LaMarcus Aldridge on the buyout market. That doesn’t mean the team won’t continue trying to build around All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in the months ahead, however. “I would be very surprised if [Celtics team president Danny Ainge] doesn’t make a big, bold move this summer,” an Eastern Conference executive opined.
  • Steve Popper of Newsday discusses how Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau used his ill-fated tenure with the Timberwolves to improve his methodology, New York’s recent 102-101 loss to Minnesota notwithstanding. “For me, I loved having the opportunity to step away [after being let go in Minnesota],” Thibodeau had commented during his first press conference as Knicks head coach. “Part of it was just to recharge and get away and relax, and the other part was to learn. Whatever your circumstances are at that particular time, you try to make of those.”
  • Several big Raptors contributors, including Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam, are struggling with the aftereffects of COVID-19 as they try to work themselves back into NBA condition, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “There’s spurts where we play high-level basketball and spurts where we suck, and it’s just fighting uphill,” VanVleet said after the Raptors’ 113-103 loss to the rebuilding Thunder Wednesday night. The club posted a 1-13 record in March, but are currently just two games behind the Bulls for the No. 10 seed and a play-in berth in the East.

Raptors Notes: Lowry, Powell, Siakam, Nurse

After helping the Raptors snap their nine-game losing streak on Wednesday with a blowout win over Denver, veteran point guard Kyle Lowry admitted that it was a “weird” feeling not knowing if it was his last game with the franchise, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Lowry is prepared for the possibility of being traded later today, on his 35th birthday.

“Whatever will be will be, honestly,” Lowry said, per Lewenberg. “That’s the truth.

“I don’t know (what I want to happen). I wish I could give you (an answer), but at the end of the day, I’m gonna (make) a decision and work it out and if something happens, it happens — if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. Everything happens for a reason. I personally, right now, I don’t really put too much thought into it. My agent is really good at his job and (is having) a lot of decisions, he’ll look at it and help facilitate that decision.”

According to Lewenberg, the odds of Lowry being traded seemed slim earlier this month. Sources tell TSN.ca that the Raptors were still telling teams last week that they didn’t intend to move him and that Lowry and his reps expected to finish the season with the club. That has changed in recent days, as Toronto has become more willing to listen to inquiries and offers for the six-time All-Star, who could be the biggest name on the move in the next seven hours.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Norman Powell, the Raptors’ other top trade candidate, said that his preference would be to remain with Toronto, but he acknowledged that anything could happen, as Lewenberg relays. “My roots are here,” Powell said. “I’ve given everything to the franchise. Obviously I want to stay here. I’m not out looking for other teams to go play for. I’m solely focused on this season, being with the team and hopefully being able to finish out the season with them. But I understand that it’s a business.” Lewenberg and other reporters have suggested that Powell is very likely to be dealt today.
  • Appearing on ESPN’s Bart & Hahn Show (video link), Brian Windhorst said he believes the Raptors will essentially control the trade deadline, since Lowry and Powell are two of the top players available. Teams chasing one or both of those two may want resolution before moving onto other targets.
  • The Raptors’ dominant win over Denver on Wednesday showed how much upside the current group still has, but it was probably too little, too late to change the team’s approach to the deadline, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic.
  • Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca provided some additional details on the confrontation between Pascal Siakam and head coach Nick Nurse that may result in a $50K fine for the Raptors forward. Grange describes Siakam’s outburst toward Nurse as one that crossed lines and included “words beyond standard cursing.” However, there’s no indication that it will lead to anything drastic involving Siakam at the trade deadline, Grange notes.
  • The Raptors denied a report that Siakam had been fined $50K, saying possible discipline was still being discussed internally. But since those team penalties aren’t made public, we may never know for sure whether or not Toronto fines Siakam, according to Grange, who says the club has concerns about the way the report on that fine and another recent Shams Charania report – which blamed a COVID-19 outbreak on the coaching staff not following proper masking guidelines – have surfaced.

Raptors Fining Pascal Siakam $50K?

1:52pm: A Raptors media spokesperson has said Charania’s report is “not correct,” tweets Lori Ewing of The Canadian Press. Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link) has heard the matter is still being discussed internally, but notes that reporting from his colleague Charania is rarely inaccurate.


12:24pm: The Raptors have fined Pascal Siakam $50K after a heated exchange with coach Nick Nurse, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The incident took place Sunday in Cleveland as Toronto players were leaving the court after an 11-point defeat that pushed the team’s losing streak to eight games. It’s now at nine after another double-digit loss Monday in Houston.

Siakam directed “several choice words” toward his coach, multiple sources tell Charania. He didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter of the Cleveland game, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports, with Nurse keeping him on the bench as the Raptors tried to stage a comeback.

This has been a difficult season for the Raptors, who have fallen to 17-26 and are in danger of dropping out of playoff contention in the East. Siakam was an All-Star last season and continues to be productive at 19.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game, but his outburst is an indication that tempers are short in the locker room.

“It ain’t no secret, we’ve gotta play defense and we’ve gotta play better,” Kyle Lowry told Doug Smith of The Toronto Star after Monday’s game. “It’s literally no secret to it, like I swear. I wish I could give you guys some other magical answer, but it’s literally no Groundhog Day. Every game’s different and we’re just not playing hard enough and we’re not playing well enough.”

Raptors Notes: VanVleet, Siakam, Anunoby, Powell

The Raptors had four players – including starters Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam – cleared from the NBA’s health and safety protocols for Wednesday’s game, allowing their rotation to regain some semblance of normalcy, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. However, VanVleet and Siakam were predictably rusty in their returns, shooting a combined 5-of-24 from the floor in a loss to Detroit.

The loss was Toronto’s sixth straight, dropping the club’s record to 17-23 just one week away from the trade deadline. While the belief is that the Raptors are a better team than their record has shown, the front office will have to make some big decisions at the deadline, so there won’t be much time to assess the roster once it gets back to full strength, Grange notes.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • The one player who remained out on Wednesday due to the health and safety protocols was OG Anunoby. However, he traveled to Detroit and the hope is that he’ll be cleared to play vs. Utah on Friday, Grange tweets.
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic weighs the pros and cons of trading Norman Powell, who will be eligible for unrestricted free agency at season’s end and is making a strong case for a lucrative new deal, with 19.7 PPG on .500/.446/.875 shooting this season. Multiple teams have inquired on Powell, according to Murphy, who wrote his article before the swingman went off for 43 points on Wednesday, further complicating the equation.
  • The NBA has rescheduled a pair of Raptors games, the league announced in a press release. The February 28 game vs. the Bulls that was postponed has been moved to April 8, while an April 9 game vs. Cleveland has been pushed back to April 10.

Raptors’ Starters Siakam, VanVleet Cleared To Practice

The Raptors, who have been decimated by the league’s health and safety protocols, are getting closer to having their team back at full strength.

Starters Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, as well as reserves Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw, have been cleared to practice on Tuesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. The Raptors play at Detroit on Wednesday.

That leaves only OG Anunoby remaining under the COVID-19 restrictions. He’s listed as out for Wednesday’s game by the team, according to Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link). VanVleet is listed as doubtful to play, while Siakam, Flynn, McCaw are listed as questionable.

Toronto’s coaching staff, including Nick Nurse, were also placed under those protocols during the week leading up to the All-Star break.

The team’s fortunes have nosedived while playing shorthanded. The Raptors have lost five straight to fall five games below .500.

Injury/Protocol Notes: Reddish, Durant, Thompson, Raptors

Hawks forward Cam Reddish reportedly received a PRP injection earlier this month and was ruled out for at least two weeks at that time, per general manager Travis Schlenk. However, it sounds like Reddish’s absence will extend well beyond that window.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Reddish has an initial recovery timeline of four-to-six weeks following the non-surgical procedure to address his right Achilles soreness. Even if we assume one of those weeks has already passed, it still sounds like we won’t see Reddish back on the court until sometime in April.

Here are a few more updates from around the NBA on players who are injured or in the league’s health and safety protocols:

  • Nets star Kevin Durant is expected to miss another week or two as the team takes a cautious approach to his left hamstring strain, sources tell Charania. Durant has now been on the shelf for over a month, but it hasn’t slowed down Brooklyn at all — the team has won 10 of its last 11 games.
  • As we relayed on Sunday, Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson is aiming to return early next season from his Achilles tear. However, he admitted that he’s not expecting to look like his old self right away. I’ll be honest, I don’t expect to come back balls-to-the-wall, 38 minutes a night, guarding the best player, running around 100 screens,” Thompson said (video link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). “I’m going to get to that point. I guarantee that. But… it might be 20 minutes to start the season… We’ll see where I’m at. This is usually a 12-month process with the Achilles and that’ll take me to mid-November.”
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse expects his five players in the health and safety protocols – Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Patrick McCaw, and Malachi Flynn – to all return at some point this week, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star, who says some of those players are out of quarantine and doing work in the team’s gym.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Barrett, Smart, Rose, Knicks

The Raptors were severely short-handed prior to the All-Star break due to the league’s health and safety protocols and those issues will carry over to this weekend. Starters Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby, as well as Patrick McCaw and Malachi Flynn, won’t play against Charlotte on Saturday, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. They’re also expected to miss Sunday’s game against Chicago.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks guard RJ Barrett plans to play for Team Canada in the Olympic qualifying tournament this summer, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic tweets. Barrett is optimistic about Team Canada’s prospects. “We got an All-NBA team,” Barrett said.
  • Marcus Smart‘s return from a calf strain provides the Celtics with more offensive versatility, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. The Celtics can now put four scorers on the floor who can create plays off the dribble. Smart also solves many of the team’s spacing issues with his hard cuts to the basket, Weiss adds.
  • The Knicks, who acquired Derrick Rose last month, will continue to look for upgrades before the trade deadline, coach Tom Thibodeau told Vorkunov and other media members. “I have a strong bias towards good players,” he said. “I know (the front office is) looking at all the possibilities. If something makes sense for us, we’ll do it.” Rose will miss the team’s game against the Thunder on Saturday due to the league’s health and safety protocols, Vorkunov tweets.

Raptors Remain Short-Handed Due To COVID-19

A week off for the All-Star break didn’t resolve the Raptors‘ coronavirus situation, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Fred VanVleetPascal SiakamOG AnunobyMalachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw all remain in the league’s health and safety protocols and won’t be available for Thursday’s game with the Hawks.

Toronto’s issues with the virus began in late February when a member of the coaching staff reportedly tested positive, forcing head coach Nick Nurse and most of his assistants into contact tracing. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo, who was in quarantine at the time after coaching the Spanish national team, has been filling in as head coach ever since. There’s no update on the status of the coaches, but Lewenberg suggests that more information may be available after practice later today (Twitter link).

Siakam, who returned an inconclusive rapid test at the same time, has been in the protocol for 12 days, Lewenburg adds (via Twitter). The other four players have been sidelined for eight days each.

The Raptors’ February 28 game against the Bulls was postponed because Toronto didn’t have enough eligible players, and a game against the Pistons was rescheduled from March 2 to March 3. Currently in eighth place in the East, the Raptors are 1-2 since their COVID-19 problems began.

Raptors Notes: COVID Absences, Depth, Lowry, Harris

After playing without several key rotation players on Wednesday night vs. Detroit due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the Raptors will be missing those same players on Thursday in Boston. As Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets, the club officially announced that Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Malachi Flynn, and Patrick McCaw remain in the protocols and have been ruled out for tonight’s game.

Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell, the only starters unaffected by the protocols, combined to score 57 points on 19-of-31 shooting on Wednesday, but the rest of the Raptors contributed just 48 total points on 15-of-46 shooting. Toronto will need more from its supporting cast on Thursday if the club hopes to knock off the Celtics.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • While any team would struggle without three of its starters, the Raptors’ blowout loss to the lowly Pistons on Wednesday shone a light on the team’s lack of reliable depth, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. The absences of key players provided a chance for one or two role part-timers to step up and make a case for more minutes, but no one really seized that opportunity, Grange adds.
  • There are compelling reasons both for and against trading Kyle Lowry at the deadline, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who explores the dilemma facing the Raptors and notes that the team is under pressure to get the decision right.
  • The Raptors have reassigned rookie guard Jalen Harris to the Raptors 905 at Walt Disney World after recalling him for Wednesday’s game, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Harris now should have a chance to clear the G League bubble’s quarantine protocols in time to play for Toronto’s affiliate in the NBAGL postseason tournament next week.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Smart, Thibodeau, Sixers, Rose

There are positive signs that the PistonsRaptors game in Tampa will be played on Wednesday but Toronto will have to go without three starters. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby have been ruled out under the league’s health and safety protocols, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Malachi Flynn and Patrick McCaw will also be sidelined by the protocols. Jalen Harris and Donta Hall have been recalled from the G League bubble in Orlando, Lewenberg adds.

A majority of the coaching staff, including head coach Nick Nurse, will also miss the game, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Those coaches were placed under the protocols prior to the team’s game on Friday. Sergio Scariolo will once again run the team on Wednesday. The Raptors, who had their game against Chicago on Sunday postponed, were originally scheduled to face Detroit on Tuesday.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Marcus Smart is “getting a lot closer” to returning to action, according to Celtics coach Brad Stevens. Mark Murphy of the Boston Globe tweets that Smart will benefit from additional team practice time after the All-Star break. Smart has been out since January 30 due to a Grade 1 left calf strain.
  • Tom Thibodeau has established himself as a serious candidate for Coach of the Year in his first season with the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Knicks players have been impressed with how hard the staff works and it has resulted in a winning record entering Tuesday’s game.
  • The Sixers have been given the go-ahead by the city of Philadelphia to bring back crowds in a limited capacity, the team tweets. The team will be allowed to have crowds at 15% capacity, or approximately 3,100 fans.
  • Knicks guard Derrick Rose missed the team’s game against San Antonio on Tuesday after being placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.