Pascal Siakam

And-Ones: Extension Deadlines, Team USA Scrimmages, James

The deadline for players to sign rookie extensions prior to opening night this upcoming season is Monday, October 21 at 6 p.m. ET, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN. That group of 18 eligible players includes Pascal Siakam, Brandon Ingram and Jaylen Brown.

The extension deadline is the same for a veteran with multiple years remaining on his contract who has met certain criteria, including All-Star guard Bradley Beal. Players with one year left (including a player option) have until June 30, 2020 to sign an extension.

Regular season rosters will also be set on October 21, while Saturday, October 19 will be the last day a team can waive a player with a non-guaranteed contract and not incur a cap hit, Marks adds (Twitter links here).

We have more from the basketball world:

  • The USA Basketball World Cup team will scrimmage against a collection of G League and fringe NBA players over the next three days, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. There are 15 players remaining on the USA roster with Monday’s withdrawal by Kyle Lowry and 12 will make the final roster that will compete in the FIBA tournament in China. The group they’ll scrimmage will be called the L.A. Select Team and be coached by Jeff Van Gundy. That team will include players who participated in FIBA qualifiers, including Scotty Hopson, Chasson Randle and Ben Moore, Givony adds in another tweet.
  • Former Suns and Pelicans guard Mike James has signed with CSKA Moscow, according to a tweet from the team. James played a total of 36 NBA games in 2017/18, averaging 9.3 PPG and 3.5 APG in 19.1 MPG. James appeared in 30 Euro League games with Olimpia Milano last season, averaging a league-high 19.8 PPG and 6.8 APG. James and the Italian team mutually parted ways late last month.
  • The NBA released 2019/20 season schedules for every team on Monday. You can find them here.

Eastern Notes: Young, Westbrook, Siakam, Hawks

Thaddeus Young gives the Bulls a much-needed glue guy, Sam Smith of the team’s website writes. Not only does Young fill the stat sheet but he also provides other valuable assets, such as contesting shots, staying in front of his man and forcing opponents to pass late in the shot clock, Smith adds. Young signed a three-year contract with Chicago that could be worth up to $43.6MM. Young will embrace a leadership role, as Sean Highkin of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “I know the task is very, very hard,” the former Pacers big man said. “I carry that weight each and every day. I know I can help these young guys get better, I know I can push them over the hump.”

We have more from around the Central Division:

  • Adding Russell Westbrook would have made the Pistons better in the short term but it wasn’t worth the long-term risk, Keith Langlois of the team’s website opines. The Pistons couldn’t afford to give up future first-rounders and agree to pick swaps as Houston did to acquire Westbrook from Oklahoma City. With Blake Griffin‘s big contract and Andre Drummond holding an option to become a free agent next summer, the Pistons would not have been able to make any more notable future upgrades if they took on Westbrook’s huge contract, Langlois adds.
  • The Raptors might as well offer Pascal Siakam a max four- or five-year extension this summer, Michael Grange of argues. Ben Simmons has reportedly received a similar offer from the Sixers, while Jamal Murray has already signed an extension with the Nuggets. Siakam has outperformed both of his peers in many categories, Grange notes. The Raptors also don’t have any salary-cap restraints in future seasons that would prevent them from maxing out Siakam, Grange adds.
  • Rookie of the Year finalist Trae Young and young big John Collins will see an increase in playing time, Hawks GM Travis Schlenk told Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Lottery picks De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish will also get thrown into the fire for the rebuilding Hawks. “Last year, Trae and John played about 30 minutes. They are probably going to play 35 minutes this year as they continue to grow,” Schlenk said. “De’Andre is obviously going to play a lot of minutes. Cam, we are going to play a lot.”

More Details On Thunder, Raptors Trade Talks

Earlier today, we relayed a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on the Thunder‘s efforts to engage the Raptors in trade discussions involving Paul George. As Wojnarowski explained, the threat of Oklahoma City sending George to Toronto instead of to Los Angeles forced the Clippers to put a massive offer on the table to ensure that they secured not only George but Kawhi Leonard as well.

[RELATED: Thunder to trade Paul George to Clippers]

Wojnarowski’s report suggested that Thunder head of basketball operations Sam Presti had been open to pursuing a deal with the Raptors that would have sent both George and Russell Westbrook to Toronto, with Pascal Siakam as the centerpiece of the deal. However, Raps president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri balked at the idea, and talks didn’t gain traction.

Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star adds a few more details to that report, tweeting that the Thunder asked for Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and four unprotected first-round picks as a starting point for George.

Arthur’s report doesn’t make clear whether Westbrook was involved in that proposal, or which veteran(s) the Raptors would have had to include for salary-matching purposes. However, according to Arthur, the Raptors believed they were being used as leverage — and also believed that Leonard would be headed home to Los Angeles.

[RELATED: Russell Westbrook mulling possibility of being traded]

Wojnarowski’s and Arthur’s sources paint a similar picture of the Raptors’ involvement in these trade talks with the Thunder. It sounds as if things never really got all that serious from Toronto’s side, given their concern that they were being used to get more out of the Clippers, but OKC had to make the Clippers believe that sending George to the Raptors was a real possibility. Ujiri and Raps GM Bobby Webster didn’t have the ability or the inclination to top the Clippers’ offer, league sources told Wojnarowski.

It’s possible that the Raptors would’ve made a stronger push for George if they’d known that acquiring him would lead directly to a long-term commitment from Leonard, but there’s no indication that was the case.

As Wojnarowski reported, the Clippers believed Kawhi would go to the Lakers if the Clips couldn’t acquire PG13 — assuming they were right, it’s not clear that Toronto acquiring George would have changed that.

Thunder Leveraged Clippers, Raptors In George Trade Talks

In what ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski describes as a “wild night of negotiations,” Thunder head of basketball operations Sam Presti leveraged the Clippers and Raptors off one another in Paul George trade talks as the Clippers tried to secure a commitment from Kawhi Leonard.

League sources tell Wojnarowski that the Clippers’ top decision-makers, owner Steve Ballmer, president of basketball operations Lawrence Frank, and GM Michael Winger, “harbored fears” that the Raptors and Thunder were close to reaching a deal that would have sent George to Toronto.

Those fears – and their belief that they’d get a commitment from Leonard if they could land George – prompted the Clippers to surrender a substantial package headlined by young point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and five first-round picks (plus two pick swaps), which the Raptors couldn’t match.

According to Wojnarowski’s report, Presti pursued a deal with the Raptors that would have sent both George and Russell Westbrook to Toronto, with Pascal Siakam as the centerpiece of the deal. However, Raps president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri balked.

Woj doesn’t offer additional details on what the Thunder were seeking from the Raptors, but a trade would’ve had to feature significant expiring salaries (likely at least Kyle Lowry plus one of Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka). Given the package the Thunder eventually got from the Clippers, it presumably would’ve had to include a boatload of draft picks as well.

George was believed to be willing to join the Raptors if Toronto had worked out a deal for him and if Leonard was willing to stay, according to Wojnarowski.

As Wojnarowski notes in a tweet though, the Raptors ultimately didn’t have the assets to satisfy the Thunder’s demands, with or without Siakam. In other words, Eric Koreen of The Athletic tweets, the Raptors were being used for leverage and may not have been able to reach an agreement with the Thunder even if they’d wanted to. However, the threat of a potential deal with Toronto helped Oklahoma City get the return it wanted from the Clippers.

Here’s more from Woj:

  • To Leonard, the cost of a George trade for the Clippers was “immaterial,” according to Wojnarowski, who says that Kawhi believed PG13 was the co-star he needed to do battle with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in Los Angeles. The Finals MVP also had strong interest in playing for Doc Rivers, sources tell ESPN.
  • The Clippers believed that if they didn’t make a trade for George, Leonard was prepared to sign with the Lakers, per Wojnarowski.
  • Early in the free agent process, before the Clippers knew that George was the trade target Leonard had in mind, the team inquired on deals for Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday and Wizards guard Bradley Beal, but they weren’t available in trade talks, writes Wojnarowski.

Atlantic Notes: Pelle, Sixers, Thomas, Siakam

Hoops Rumors’ own JD Shaw hears that the Sixers will sign center Norvel Pelle to a two-way contract (Twitter links).

Pelle, who went undrafted in 2014, played for the Delaware Blue Coats last season. The big man was named to the NBAGL All-Defensive Team for his play in the G League.

Haywood Highsmith previously occupied one of the team’s two-way contracts before being waived earlier in the week. Shaw adds that Highsmith will join Philadelphia’s Summer League team in Las Vegas.

Here’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • David Heller, who had been a partial owner of the Sixers, is no longer part of the team, Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report relays (Twitter link). “We can confirm that David Heller has sold his interest in Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE). David will always be a friend to this organization. We appreciate his time, effort, energy, and partnership…and wish him well in his future endeavors,” the Sixers said in a statement. The circumstances surrounding Heller’s departure are unclear, but sources close to the front office tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that he was forced out. The 76ers strongly denied that characterization, Pompey notes.
  • Isaiah Thomas is not in the Celtics‘ plan this offseason, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes. Boston appears likely to lose Kyrie Irving, though the organization is reportedly a leading contender for Kemba Walker.
  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic explores whether the Raptors should ink Pascal Siakam to an extension this summer. Siakam’s long-term future in Toronto isn’t in question; it’s just a matter of whether to sign him to an extension before the season or wait until next summer to handle his contract situation in restricted free agency.

Raptors Notes: Ujiri, Kawhi, Gasol, Green, Siakam

Despite rumors that the Wizards might try to make a run at him this offseason to become their head of basketball operations, Masai Ujiri told reporters today that he isn’t going anywhere. As Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter links) relays, the Raptors‘ president of basketball operations said he envisions a long-term future in Toronto.

Ujiri acknowledged that potential interest from other clubs is a “blessing,” but said that he’s happy and has grown as a person in Toronto, and wants to win more with the Raptors.

Here’s more from Ujiri’s end-of-season press conference today:

  • Asked about Kawhi Leonard‘s upcoming free agency, Ujiri said he always feels “confident” about the Raptors’ chances, but will respect the star forward’s decision no matter what he does. Ujiri thinks the Raps have “built a trust” with Kawhi, adding that there have been positive talks lately (Twitter links via Murphy).
  • According to Ujiri, he texted with Leonard last night and talked to “Uncle Dennis” today, and he believes there will be constant communication between the two sides. He’s leaving plans for a meeting up to Leonard’s camp, tweets Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun.
  • The Raptors will be in a bit of a holding pattern this offseason until Leonard makes his decision, Ujiri admitted, but he’s fine with that. “We’ll wait,” he said, per Josh Lewenberg of (Twitter link). “He’s our player and he’s a superstar on our team and we’ll wait on that.”
  • Ujiri would like to bring everybody back for next season, including Marc Gasol, who has a player option for 2019/20, and Danny Green, who will be an unrestricted free agent (Twitter link via Lewenberg).
  • Pascal Siakam, the NBA’s Most Improved Player, is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason and Ujiri expects to meet with Siakam’s agent during Summer League next month (Twitter link via Murphy).

Pascal Siakam Named Most Improved Player

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam earned the league’s Most Improved Player award. The announcement was made at the annual NBA awards show on Monday.

Nets guard D’Angelo Russell and Kings guard De’Aaron Fox were the other finalists.

Siakam emerged as a major component for Toronto in his third season, as he averaged 16.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG and 3.1 APG for the champions. He posted averages of 7.3/4.5/2.0 in the same categories while mainly coming off the bench in 2017/18. He also became a 3-point threat, connecting on 36.9% of his long-range tries compared to 22% in his second NBA season.

Siakam was also Hoops Rumors’ choice for the award.

Knicks Notes: Free Agency, Fine, Iguodala, Kings Trade

The Knicks are hoping to land at least one of the marquee free agents — Kevin DurantKawhi Leonard or Kyrie Irving — but if they come up short, they won’t eat up their cap space with multi-year contracts, Ian Begley of SNY TV reports. They don’t want to take on a bad contract in order to accumulate more assets. It’s uncertain if they’d trade for a player with a big contract in his walk year.

Instead, they will most likely sign free agents to one-year deals, much like the Lakers did last summer after LeBron James committed to them, in order to retain cap flexibility. The New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy reiterates that sentiment, adding that the Knicks could shift gears and go after Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Draymond Green, Ben Simmons and Pascal Siakam next summer.

We have more on the Knicks:

  • The team was fined $50K by the league for violating rules regarding equal access for media, according to a league press release. The Knicks did not allow Bondy access to their post-draft press conference on Friday while allowing all other credentialed media who cover the team to attend. The organization has agreed to comply with media access rules in the future.
  • Warriors forward Andre Iguodala took a jab at the organization and its pursuit of major free agents, including his teammate Durant, Ethan Sears of the New York Post relays. In an interview with CNBC, Iguodala said, “Nobody’s gonna sign with the Knicks, sorry.”
  • The Knicks gave up $1MM in cash along with the No. 55 pick to the Kings on Thursday, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. New York moved up to the No. 47 spot and chose University of Michigan forward Ignas Brazdeikis. The Kings selected Virginia’s Kyle Guy.

Raptors Notes: Leonard, Green, Siakam, Frye

Kawhi Leonard didn’t feel like discussing his upcoming free agency after leading the Raptors to their first-ever NBA championship, but he did talk about trust, relays Sam Amick of The Athletic. Leonard completed a comeback story by being named NBA Finals MVP a year after being limited to nine games because of a quad injury. That led to a messy divorce with the Spurs, whose team doctors disagreed with the diagnosis of Leonard’s personal physicians.

“Last year, a lot of people were doubting me,” Leonard said. “They thought I was either faking an injury or didn’t want to play for a team. That was disappointing to go me that that was out in the media, because I love the game of basketball. Like I always say, if we’re not playing this game, if we’re hurt, I mean you’re down. So me just going through that, and I just knew that I would have to make myself happy and no one else. And I have to trust myself. And whatever, it doesn’t matter what anybody has to say about me. I know who I am as a person, I know how I feel, and always just trust yourself. And that was my goal and my focus. And that’s why one of the things that I take on the floor.”

There has been speculation about Leonard’s next move since he was traded to Toronto last July, and Amick acknowledges that originally that’s not where he wanted to go. There’s no guarantee that leading a team to a title will make Leonard interested in a longer relationship, but he now has a bond with the city and the organization that wasn’t there before.

“You bring a championship to this country, man – not just this city, but this country and this organization – within one year, that’s legendary type stuff,” longtime teammate Danny Green said.”Regardless of what he does, he did his job.”

There’s more this morning from Toronto:

  • The Raptors will give Leonard and his representatives freedom to pick whatever contract length they want, ranging from one to five years, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Leonard is eligible for a five-year deal worth $189.7MM, but there have been rumors he might want a shorter commitment. Marks speculates that he may seek a three-year pact worth $106MM with a player option after the second year, putting him back into free agency in 2022 with 10 years of service.
  • Marks believes the team should wait before giving an extension to Pascal Siakam, who will be eligible this offseason. A strong contender for Most Improved Player, Siakam would have just a $7MM cap hold next summer without an extension, roughly $22MM less than the first year of a max salary. If Leonard doesn’t re-sign, Toronto projects to have $69MM to $86MM in cap space available for 2020.
  • The Raptors tried to sign the recently retired Channing Frye last summer, but he opted to stay with the Cavaliers because of his familiarity with the organization and a pledge from the front office to try to contend, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Raptors Notes: Leonard, Green, Gasol, Siakam

Last summer’s trade that landed Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green from the Spurs not only shook up the Raptors‘ roster, it brought two players with championship experience to a franchise that didn’t have any, writes Steve Popper of Newsday.

Leonard and Green, who will both be free agents this summer, were teammates on San Antonio’s title-winning team in 2014. They helped to calm any nerves in Game 1 by scoring the Raptors’ first six points.

“I didn’t notice that until you mentioned it to me,” Green said. “We got out running, able to run our offense how we’ve been doing most of the year. When we’re in our transition that’s when we’re at our best. [It’s] very important, especially playing against three-time, four-time, whatever champions. So many times they’ve been [to the Finals]. You’ve got to protect home court. It’s what we fought for all year. Can’t give them any type of life or confidence and keep taking advantage of the advantage that we have.”

There’s more tonight from Toronto:

  • Marc Gasol is making his first NBA Finals appearance after nearly a decade in Memphis, but he tells Jim Slater of Yahoo Sports that he’s not in awe of the experience. “My brain doesn’t function that way,” Gasol said. “You’re playing basketball like you did your whole life and it’s the most fun. You got to stay poised during the whole game so your brain can’t go anywhere else but every possession.”
  • Pascal Siakam, the hero of Game 1 with a 32-point performance, has a background unlike any other NBA player’s, notes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Siakam was introduced to the game as a teenager in his native Cameroon when he attended a Basketball Without Borders camp to visit his sister, whom he hadn’t seen in five years. “I didn’t even know if I really dreamed of being at this level,” Siakam said. “I couldn’t even think about this moment because it wasn’t reachable for me.”
  • Former Raptors assistant and G League head coach Jerry Stackhouse said he felt like a “proud papa” watching Siakam’s outburst, relays Frank Isola of The Athletic. Stackhouse, who accepted a job at Vanderbilt in April, also worked closely with Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell, who have played important roles in Toronto’s playoff run. “It’s a good advertisement for the league,” Stackhouse said. “That’s what the development league is supposed to do. Those were three guys with a lot of pride who all worked hard. They earned it.”