Paul Watson

Raptors Notes: Lowry, Ujiri, Bembry, Watson

During the hours leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweeted that the Sixers and Raptors appeared to be “at the one-yard line” in their discussions on a Kyle Lowry trade. Obviously, those talks didn’t make it into the end zone and Lowry ended up staying put. But Sam Amick of The Athletic hears that Toronto did feel at one point as if a deal with Philadelphia was close.

According to Amick, the deal would have included Danny Green, who would’ve been re-routed to a third team. It’s a safe bet that at least one of Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle would have been part of the package too. However, the draft compensation involved in the proposed trade was the obstacle that held things up, a source tells Amick.

Following up today on the Lowry discussions, Grange says (via Twitter) that the Sixers knew Miami was Lowry’s preferred landing spot, so they had to view him as a possible rental. That limited what they were willing to offer beyond Maxey, Grange adds. The Lakers were in a similar boat with Talen Horton-Tucker, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, while the Heat were unwilling to offer Tyler Herro for a player they could theoretically sign in free agency this summer.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • While the Raptors didn’t trade Lowry at the deadline, it’s hard to shake the sense that more drastic changes could be coming as soon as this offseason, Grange writes for Sportsnet.ca. While Lowry could sign a new contract with Toronto, it seems just as likely that he could head elsewhere, possibly in a sign-and-trade deal.
  • Like Lowry, Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is also on an expiring contract, and while he spoke glowingly about the franchise on Thursday, he gave no indication that an in-season extension is around the corner. “We’ll visit this at the end of the season at some point,” Ujiri said of his contract with Toronto, per Grange.
  • During his media session on Thursday, Ujiri addressed the idea that the Raptors’ asking price for Lowry was too high: “I was surprised (the offers) weren’t better because, to be honest, I’ve viewed him as somebody that can go out and put a stamp on what you can do this year. … I’ve lived it, I’ve seen it… I know what the guy does. I know who he is. And that’s the truth. So, yeah, we’re going to (be) skewed in some kind of way and I’m biased in many ways with the players we have and I hope I’m pardoned that if I valued him too much, but that’s what I believe in today.”
  • Raptors reserves DeAndre’ Bembry and Paul Watson have entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and won’t play on Friday night, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

Raptors Notes: Anunoby, Tampa, Harden, Watson, Davis

After signing a four-year contract extension with the Raptors on Monday, OG Anunoby said that he decided to prioritize long-term security over attempting to maximize his potential earnings with a strong contract year.

Just not knowing what the future holds and just securing something,” Anunoby said in explaining his motivation, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). “Risk, reward… We definitely thought about it. We considered it. We went back and forth, for sure.”

Anunoby, who is already an excellent defender, said on Tuesday that he believes he’s capable of more on offense than he has shown, tweets Lewenberg. If that’s the case, his four-year, $72MM contract could end up being a steal for the Raptors. Either way, the deal won’t prevent the team from opening up enough cap room to pursue an impact player or two during the 2021 offseason, as Lewenberg writes at TSN.ca.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

Watanabe Gets Two-Way Deal From Raptors; Watson Promoted To Main Roster

11:06am: Watson’s new contract is a two-year, minimum-salary deal with a $350K partial guarantee in year one, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic.


8:55am: The Raptors have converted Yuta Watanabe‘s camp contract to a two-way deal, according to NBA.com’s transactions page. Paul Watson, who joined the team on a two-way contract last season, has been promoted to the main roster.

Watanabe, 26, saw minimal playing time with the Grizzlies over the past two years, playing mostly in the G League. The small forward appeared in 33 total games for Memphis, and averaged 2.0 PPG in 18 games last season.

Watson, a 25-year-old shooting guard, played 10 NBA games in 2019/20. He signed with Toronto in January, one day after being waived by the Hawks.

Both players performed well during the Raptors’ three preseason games, sealing their spots on the regular season squad. Watanabe put up 14 points and 11 rebounds in 30 total minutes, while Watson had 11 points, five boards, and three blocked shots in 29 total minutes.

The Raptors’ roster, which includes 15 players on standard contracts and two – Watanabe and Jalen Harris – on two-way deals, is now set for the regular season.

Raptors Cut Oshae Brissett, Alize Johnson, Henry Ellenson

The Raptors have waived forward Oshae Brissett, forward Alize Johnson, and big man Henry Ellenson as they move closer to setting their regular season roster, the team announced today.

Brissett, who went undrafted out of Syracuse in 2019, spent his rookie year on a two-way contract with Toronto, appearing in 19 games for the NBA team and 30 for the Raptors 905 in the G League. He averaged 14.9 PPG and 6.6 RPG in 30 games (27.8 MPG) at the NBAGL level.

Since Brissett’s new multiyear deal with the Raptors had a $300K partial guarantee in year one, the club will remain on the hook for that money unless he’s claimed off waivers on Monday.

Johnson was the 50th overall pick in the 2018 draft and spent his first two professional seasons under contract with the Pacers. The 24-year-old logged just 182 total minutes in 31 games at the NBA level over those two years, but posted big numbers for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the G League, with 19.5 PPG, 13.4 RPG, and 3.7 APG on .514/.363/.699 shooting in 50 career NBAGL contests.

The 18th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Ellenson has bounced around from Detroit to New York to Brooklyn since entering the league, appearing in just 81 total games over four seasons. The former Marquette standout, who is still just 23 years old, started last season on a two-way contract with the Nets but was waived in January.

Both Johnson and Ellenson were training camp invitees who always looked like long shots to make the Raptors’ regular season roster. Johnson’s deal was non-guaranteed, while Ellenson had a modest $50K guarantee.

The Raptors are now down to 15 players on standard contracts and a pair on two-way deals, but will likely make a couple more roster moves before their regular season squad is locked in. According to Kelsea O’Brien of BasketballNews.com (Twitter link), current two-way player Paul Watson is expected to be promoted to the standard roster. Camp invitee Yuta Watanabe appears likely to fill Watson’s two-way contract slot, notes Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Celtics, Watson, Nets

New Sixers head coach Doc Rivers will have to carefully navigate the workload of injury-prone All-Star center Joel Embiid, Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. Rivers signed a five-year contract with the club last week.

Load management became a crucial tool for Rivers this past season with the Clippers, as he strove to tacitly limit the minutes and games played by stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George so that the forwards could be healthy for the playoffs. He discussed his approach with the Sixers in a Zoom call with reporters on Monday. “Load management is so individual-based,” Rivers said. “Every team has to deal with it, and we’ll have to deal with it here, and we’ll probably figure it out.”

There’s more out of the NBA’s Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics enjoyed a relatively successful 2019/20 season, as free agent addition Kemba Walker joined rising star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to take Boston to the Eastern Conference Finals. John Hollinger of The Athletic examines the upcoming roster and luxury tax challenges confronting team president Danny Ainge in the 2020 offseason. The team could be in line for a $23MM luxury tax penalty with its extant on-court personnel, even before making any offseason additions.
  • Raptors shooting guard Paul Watson, currently on a two-way contract, could be the next development success story for team president Masai Ujiri and the Toronto front office, according to Alex Nino Gheciu and Alex Narvaez of Complex.“He’s gonna be part of our future from what I can see so far,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said of the 25-year-old.
  • NetsDaily.com takes a look at the potential assistant coaches who could be joining newly-minted Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash on the sidelines. The team currently has five assistant coaches from interim head coach Jacque Vaughn‘s 2019/20 staff, including Vaughn himself. Hornets lead assistant coach Jay Triano, G League executive Rod Strickland, Lakers assistant Phil Handy, and Thunder assistant Brian Keefe could all be in the mix.

Atlantic Notes: Payne, Anunoby, Ibaka, Watson, Sixers

When the Knicks hired Kenny Payne away from Kentucky this week, it represented another instance of new executives Leon Rose and William Wesley bringing aboard someone with whom they have a preexisting relationship. However, Kentucky head coach John Calipari tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that Payne was very capable of making the leap to the NBA with or without those connections.

“You got to understand, he’s been invited to four different NBA teams where they had their summer camp and did stuff and won there,” Calipari said of his longtime assistant. “And why do you think they’re bringing him there? Trying to feel him out. They want to see him teach, they want to see him interact. And those were some of the top franchises out there. I knew why they were doing it. And because we were paying him so much, none of them thought he would leave (Kentucky) to go to the Knicks. Now they’re pissed that they didn’t bring him in. …There were other franchises that would’ve (hired him).”

While Calipari may be right that other teams would have liked to hire Payne before New York did, it’s not clear whether those clubs would’ve been willing to pay the price necessary to bring him aboard. According to Bondy (Twitter link), Payne will earn over $1.5MM with the Knicks, making him one of the NBA’s highest-paid assistants.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Two of the Raptors‘ key rotation players, OG Anunoby (right knee soreness) and Serge Ibaka (right knee contusion), sat out again on Friday, but MRIs on their knees came back clean and head coach Nick Nurse believes both players will be ready to go when the playoffs begin on Monday, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link).
  • Raptors two-way player Paul Watson has had a chance to get some playing time in Orlando and took advantage in the team’s final seeding game on Friday, pouring in 22 points in 27 minutes and impressing Nurse.He’s pretty good. He can play,” Nurse said of Watson (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of The Athletic). “… He’s gonna be part of our future from what I can see so far.”
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wonders if Ben Simmons‘ absence in the playoffs might give the Sixers an opportunity to answer some nagging questions about their roster. Even if Philadelphia is eliminated quickly, the team will get a chance to see what it looks like when it leans primarily on Joel Embiid rather than balancing its two stars, O’Connor writes.

Heat’s Gabe Vincent Named NBAGL Most Improved Player

Heat two-way player Gabe Vincent has been named the NBA G League’s Most Improved Player for the 2019/20 season, the league announced today in a press release.

Vincent, who went undrafted out of UC Santa Barbara in 2018, played for the Stockton Kings – Sacramento’s G League affiliate – in his first professional season, averaging 8.4 PPG, 2.4 APG, and 2.2 RPG on .382/.291/.710 shooting in 25 games (17.8 MPG).

He took a major step forward in 2019/20, first for Stockton and then for the Sioux Falls Skyforce – Miami’s NBAGL affiliate – after he signed a two-way deal with the Heat in January. In 31 total games (29.3 MPG), Vincent recorded 21.1 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 2.1 APG with a .450/.406/.923 shooting line. The 6’3″ guard also made his NBA debut earlier this year, appearing in six total games for the Heat.

The runners-up in the G League’s Most Improved Player vote are also under contract with NBA teams. Raptors two-way player Paul Watson finished second, with Warriors guard Mychal Mulder coming in third.

Raptors Notes: Salary Cap, Draft, Watson

The Raptors will have major roster decisions to make during the 2020 and 2021 offseasons. At the end of the current season, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol will all become unrestricted free agents, forcing Toronto to either lock them up long-term, try to negotiate one-year deals, or risk losing them for nothing.

A year later, the Raptors’ cap is relatively clear, and there have been frequent whispers about the team looking to pursue Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has a long-standing relationship with president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri.

While the financial impact of the NBA’s coronavirus-related hiatus may not entirely upend those plans, it’ll affect them to some extent, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. As Lewenberg observes, a lower salary cap than expected in 2020/21 may result in many free agents settling for one-year contracts, which could increase the Raptors’ chances of re-signing their own veterans.

As for 2021, Lewenberg thinks that the Raptors should have enough room for a maximum-salary player even if the cap levels off, but VanVleet’s next contract could be a wild card — a multiyear deal this offseason would cut into Toronto’s flexibility going forward.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Based on the current NBA standings, Toronto would receive the 28th and 58th overall picks in the 2020 draft. Blake Murphy and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic explore what the Raptors might be looking for with those selections, specifically discussing whether DePaul’s Paul Reed, Washington’s Isaiah Stewart, or Charleston’s Grant Riller could be among the team’s targets.
  • Could Paul Watson, who signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Raptors in January, become the team’s latest under-the-radar value addition? Blake Murphy of The Athletic examines that question, with some input from veteran player development coach Rico Hines.
  • NBA teams may start recalling players to their home markets in early June, but the U.S./Canada border will remained closed for non-essential travel for at least a few weeks beyond that. As we detailed earlier today, that’s not expected to be a major impediment for the Raptors.

Raptors Waive Shamorie Ponds, Sign Paul Watson

5:50pm: The Raptors have officially signed Watson to a two-way deal, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.

7:39am: The Raptors are making a change to one of their two-way contract slots, announcing this morning in a press release that they’ve waived guard Shamorie Ponds. According to Brad Rowland of UPROXX Sports (Twitter link), guard Paul Watson is expected to sign a two-way deal with Toronto.

Ponds, 21, joined the Rockets last summer after going undrafted out of St. John’s. He was cut at the end of the preseason and appeared to be on track to join Houston’s G League affiliate. Instead, he was scooped up a few days later by the Raptors, who signed him to a two-way contract.

While he didn’t see much NBA action, logging 11 total minutes in four games, Ponds has been a regular part of the rotation for the Raptors 905 in the G League. He has averaged 14.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, and 2.1 APG in 18 NBAGL contests (28.1 MPG).

As for Watson, he spent most of the season with the Raptors 905 too before signing a 10-day contract with the Hawks on January 6. Atlanta released Watson on Tuesday, a day before that deal was set to expire. If he had played out his full 10-day pact, he wouldn’t have been eligible to sign a two-way contract before today’s deadline, so the Hawks did him a favor by letting him go early.

The 25-year-old Fresno State alum has averaged 18.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG with a .533 FG% and .467 3PT% in 13 games (34.4 MPG) for Toronto’s G League affiliate this season. Now that the Raptors are getting healthy, Watson will likely continue to spend most of his time at the NBAGL level, rather than with the NBA club.

Hawks Waive Paul Watson

The Hawks have released Paul Watson, the team announces. Watson signed a 10-day contract with Atlanta on January 6.

The shooting guard appeared in two games during his short stint with the Hawks. He saw just 17 minutes of court time and went 0-for-7 from the field.

Prior to joining Atlanta, Watson spent this season with Raptors 905, where he is averaging 18.4 points and 7.4 rebounds in 13 games while shooting 46.7% from 3-point range. Undrafted out of Fresno State in 2017, Watson had a brief stop in Germany before joining the G League later that year.

Atlanta now has 14 players under contract.