Ben Uzoh

Raptors Notes: Schröder, Rajakovic, Barnes, Offense, Uzoh

After Fred VanVleet departed the Raptors in free agency, Toronto was quick to sign Dennis Schröder to a two-year, $25.4MM contract. Schroder is the only player on the Raptors who has previous experience playing for head coach Darko Rajakovic, and that connection is already paying off, TSN’s Josh Lewenberg writes.

While there was some speculation that Scottie Barnes would assume most of the play-making duties after VanVleet left, respect was high between Schröder and Rajakovic from their time together with the Thunder, where Rajakovic served as an assistant, according to Lewenberg.

[Schröder]’s an experienced point guard,” Rajakovic said. “We’re a new team, new terminology, new coaching staff. There’s so much new with our team and having somebody who’s been through different teams in that role of a point guard brings a calmness.

Through his first two games as a Raptor, Schröder has been an effective passer (17 assists), an active defender, and a sound shooter (6-of-13 from deep).

The relationship with me and Darko is great, and it’s honest,” Schröder said. “Whenever he’s got something to say he tells me, and I’ve got the same thing for him. And I think that’s what we’ve gotta do as a team, as well. When you put your egos to the side – and that’s what we did this summer with the national team – and it’s all about winning, then you can get into arguments and move on from it and get better. I think we’re moving in that direction with this team.

We have more on the Raptors:

  • The Raptors got off to a great defensive start on Wednesday when they held the Timberwolves to 94 points and they have the personnel to be one of the best in the league in that regard, Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes. According to Koreen, Barnes holds the keys for the Raptors taking the next step on that end. “That’s where my game starts — on the defensive end, being able to go out there and guard anybody, taking pride in it,” the former Rookie of the Year said. “That’s just my mentality going into every game, trying to start off on defense. That leads to great offense with transition and that just leads me to stay on lockdown throughout the game.
  • While Toronto’s defense has been effective, their half-court offense looks subpar through two games, Koreen writes in another piece. The Raptors committed 21 turnovers on Friday and fell to the Bulls in overtime.
  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri and new scout Ben Uzoh have a history together, as detailed by ESPN’s Leonard Solms. Ujiri was Denver’s general manager during Uzoh’s playing career and invited him to training camp in 2012. “Our paths were actually very organically separate,” Uzoh said. “It just kind of aligned. We crossed paths initially [during] my rookie year. I was rumored to be traded to his team when he was the GM of the Nuggets… It didn’t happen, but then they signed me to a training camp opportunity. That’s when I kind of got more in touch with him and more of an up close and personal type of connection with him.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors Front Office, Stevens, Hield, Harden

The Raptors issued a press release on Friday announcing several front office changes, including the promotions of Chad Sanders to director of scouting, Luke Winn to Raptors 905 general manager and Rayhan Malik to head athletic trainer, as well as the hiring of Ben Uzoh as a pro scout. We previously wrote about the hiring of Uzoh, which is now official.

Sanders was the Raptors 905 general manager before his promotion, earning 2020/21 G League Executive of the Year honors. Winn is entering his seventh year with the organization and is continuing his role with Toronto as director, prospect strategy. Malik began with the organization as the head athletic trainer for the Raptors 905 before moving to an assistant athletic trainer with Toronto in ’21/22.

Uzoh appeared in 60 NBA games from 2010-12 with the Nets, Cavaliers and Raptors. The former NBA guard joined the Raptors organization prior to last season as part of the NBA’s Future Basketball Operations Stars (FBOS) program.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • In agreeing to a deal with Lamar Stevens, the Celtics are hoping he can bring “grit and toughness” that was lost following the offseason departures of Marcus Smart and Grant Williams, tweets The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach. Stevens has 165 NBA appearances over the past three seasons, averaging 5.3 points per game across that span.
  • The Sixers are among the teams mentioned by The Athletic’s Shams Charania who are displaying a level of interest in acquiring sharpshooter Buddy Hield from the Pacers, prompting PHLY Sports’ Kyle Neubeck to consider how Hield would fit in Philadelphia’s system. From an offensive standpoint, the fit is obviously seamless, as Hield is a career 43.4% shooter from deep, but Neubeck assesses his defense as a red flag for a team trying to contend. Neubeck also breaks down what a trade might look like, with Tobias Harris or P.J. Tucker among the pieces that could potentially be used in a swap.
  • If James Harden were to hold out from Philadelphia, the Sixers would have an obvious hole to fill at the point guard position. Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required) breaks down possible options to take over for Harden in the rotation if the Sixers were to be without the 10-time All-Star. Tyrese Maxey and Patrick Beverley are among the obvious in-house options named by Mizell.

Atlantic Notes: Bridges, Simmons, Powell, Uzoh

Mikal Bridges‘ performance in the World Cup should confirm the Nets’ confidence that he can be their team leader, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

Bridges already had a major breakthrough after being acquired in the Kevin Durant trade in February, increasing his scoring average from 17.2 PPG in 56 games with Phoenix to 26.1 in 27 games with Brooklyn. He also proved to be effective in international basketball, finishing as Team USA’s second-leading scorer behind Anthony Edwards. Lewis points out that Bridges had the best efficiency rating on the team as a result of his shooting percentages (63.3% from the floor and 55.6% from behind the arc) and his contributions on defense.

U.S. coach Steve Kerr was impressed by what Bridges and Nets teammate Cameron Johnson were able to bring to the team.

“I already knew what kind of players they were from coaching against them,” Kerr said. “But they’re so mature: There’s a calming sense from both guys. And they’re also modern-day basketball players: shoot the three, guard multiple positions, long athletically. They’re huge components to this team.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets will be one of the teams least affected by the NBA’s new Player Participation Policy, Lewis adds. The regulations put restrictions on the amount of rest permissible for star players, but the only Net who currently qualifies is Ben Simmons, who has been dealing with legitimate injuries ever since arriving in Brooklyn. Lewis notes that Bridges could eventually join Simmons if he becomes an All-Star this season, but he hasn’t missed a game in his NBA career.
  • In an interview with Fix Media Network (video link) Clippers guard Norman Powell said it’s much easier to go out in public in Los Angeles without being recognized than it was when he played for the Raptors (hat tip to Fan Nation). “The support is crazy,” Powell said of playing in Canada. “It’s so bad, and it’s one thing that I do like now that I’m in L.A., because no matter where you’re at, eyes are on you in Canada. You can’t even go to restaurants, you can’t go to the mall, like you can’t walk down the street. … Don’t go to Vancouver or somewhere where they don’t have the Raptors, you’re getting mobbed, it doesn’t matter.”
  • Ben Uzoh, who briefly played for the Raptors in 2012, has joined the organization as a scout, tweets Blake Murphy of

And-Ones: Webber, Vaccinations, ABL, Hall of Fame

TNT has parted ways with analyst Chris Webber with the postseason quickly approaching, Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports. Webber has been with the network since 2008. Webber had been paired with play-to-play man Marv Albert and it’s unclear who will take Webber’s place.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Approximately 75 percent of NBA players have been vaccinated for the coronavirus, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Commissioner Adam Silver continues to urge front-office executives to convince players who haven’t been vaccinated to take that step before the postseason. Teams heading into the playoffs are concerned that they could lose a key player under the league’s health and safety protocols.
  • Team rosters for the inaugural season in the Africa Basketball League have been unveiled, Alessandro Maggi of Sportando notes. Former NBA player Ben Uzoh is on Nigeria’s Rivers Hoopers roster. There are also also nine players with G League experience and 21 players with NCAA Division I experience in the 12-team league.
  • The Basketball Hall of Fame inductions will be held on September 10-11, Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press tweets. The star-studded Class of 2020 will be inducted this weekend and the Class of 2o21 will be unveiled on Sunday.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Raptors, Uzoh

The Sixers should add another big man to their 15-man roster with Nerlens Noel sidelined with an ankle injury, writes Tom Moore of Calkins Media. Henry Sims, along with Noel, is the only other player at the center position. Moore opines that the roster is set up to lose and finding a player on it to release in order to make room for a new big man shouldn’t be difficult. Philadelphia started the season 0-6 and with its upcoming four-game road trip against the Raptors (5-1), Mavericks (4-2), Rockets (6-0) and Spurs (2-2), going 0-10 looks like a real possibility.

  • The Sixers are using international leagues to stash talent in their attempt to build a contender via asset accumulation, writes Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The team owns the rights of five players who play in leagues overseas including 2014 draftees Dario Saric, Vasilije Micic and Jordan McRae. Pompey argues that the defending champion Spurs, who own the rights to 11 players overseas, have proven the strategy works.
  • Despite starting the season with a record of 5-1, the Raptors have plenty of room to improve, opines Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. Wolstat identifies team defense, rebounding and assist totals as areas the team should look to improve. The piece isn’t entirely pessimistic as Wolstat cites the team’s chemistry as superb even with James Johnson and Lou Williams as new additions.
  • Ben Uzoh is hopeful he can return to the NBA after mysterious ailment nearly derailed his career, writes Marc J Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Uzoh, who has been diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, played parts of his first four NBA seasons while losing feeling in his right shooting arm. Now that the condition is diagnosed, Uzoh can focus on basketball. “I feel so much better just knowing how to manage,” Uzoh said. “I’m still finding myself, retooling, reviving the connection that I was never able to feel. I am getting better each week. I am in great shape. But the reality is I don’t want my arm to go out on me anymore. I am getting feedback on it still.” Uzoh last played in an NBA game for the Raptors in 2012.

Odds & Ends: Wright, D-League

As All-Star Weekend approaches, ideas for improving the All-Star events always resurface. USA Today Sports asked multiple writers to pitch their ideas, which include a one-on-one tournament and a half-court shooting contest. Here are some notes from around the NBA:

  • Dorell Wright wanted to join the Thunder this year, but ended up choosing the Trail Blazers because they offered a better contract, he tells Darnell Mayberry of NewsOK. “They couldn’t really do what Portland did for me as far as on the contract end,” Wright says. He decided against playing with former high school teammate Russell Westbrook and took Portland’s offer: “Maybe down in the future, I could probably play with Russ. But I’m pretty happy with the decision I made to come here to Portland.”
  • Richard Howell has bought out his D-League contract with the Idaho Stampede, and will be signing on with the Talk ‘N Text team in the Philippines, per Gino Pilato of D-League Digest. Howell spent training camp with the Trail Blazers, but didn’t make the regular season roster and hasn’t played an NBA minute.
  • The Cavs D-League affiliate, the Canton Charge, has acquired Ben Uzoh for a third round D-League draft pick from the Texas Legends, per Sam Amico of FOX Sports Ohio. Uzoh hasn’t played in the NBA since short stints with the Cavs and Raptors during the 2011/12 season.

Draft & D-League: Top Five, Smart, 66ers, Czyz

With David Stern putting all his weight behind the positive evolution of the D-League, it’s only natural for that avenue of player development to be contrasted with the more traditional one. Let’s take a look at Thursday night’s news and notes from the draft and the D-League here:

  • The kickoff of the NBA season isn’t complete without our first wave of NBA mock drafts. Chad Ford provides ESPN insiders a look at what the first round might look like in June 2014. In what some pundits are dubbing the best draft since 2003, Ford predicts a top five of Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle, Marcus Smart, Joel Embiid and Dante Exum.
  • Speaking of Oklahoma State’s Smart, the sophomore point guard is still unsure that he made the right decision to return to school last April, writes ESPN’s Myron Medcalf. Considering the shocking results of last June’s draft, it probably isn’t far fetched to say that Smart would have been the best player on the board when the Cavs went on the clock.
  • The Tulsa 66ers, the Thunder‘s D-League affiliate, have acquired the number one pick in tomorrow night’s D-League draft along with Ben Uzoh in a three team deal with the Iowa Energy and Springfield Armor, writes Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside. Along with other picks tomorrow night, Diante Garrett and Lorenzo Brown were also involved in the deal.
  • Polish forward Olek Czyz has signed a deal to join the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the D-League, Sportando reports on Twitter. The Bucks, who use Fort Wayne as their D-League affiliate, cut Czyz on Saturday after he spent training camp with the team, indicating that they protected his D-League rights. Czyz played at Duke and Nevada before going undrafted in 2012. He played last season for Virtus Roma of the Italian League.

Odds & Ends: Ahearn, Wizards, Draft, Bargnani

A year ago today, the NBA lockout had just officially ended and we were immersed in a compressed and frantic period of free agency. As fun a week as that was, I'll take this year's December 10th, which features an evening slate of six NBA contests, including a Southeast battle between the Hawks and Heat. As we await tonight's games, let's round up a few afternoon odds and ends:

  • In addition to working out Ben Uzoh on Sunday, the Wizards also took a look at Blake Ahearn, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. However, Washington doesn't plan to sign either player to replace the injured A.J. Price.
  • In the latest draft blog at (Insider link), Jay Bilas and Chad Ford discuss which college point guard is the top prospect at the position.
  • John Hollinger also has an Insider-only piece up at, in which he examines Andrea Bargnani's disappointing performance so far this season for the Raptors. If Bargnani plays like this all season, the amnesty clause could be a real possibility next summer, says Hollinger. I still think the former first overall pick has some trade value, but that value is certainly not where it was even a few weeks ago.
  • The Hawks are still figuring out when to bring back Mike Scott from the D-League, tweets Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • Tony Parker sees a little of himself in Jeremy Lin, as he tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Wizards Auditioning Uzoh To Replace Injured Price

Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reports via Twitter that Ben Uzoh is working out today for the Wizards, who will be without point guard A.J. Price for four to six weeks because of a broken hand, as Michael Lee of The Washington Post reveals. Shaun Livingston is the only healthy point guard left for Washington, which is at the 15-man roster limit, meaning someone would have to be waived if Uzoh is to be signed. That would most likely be Earl Barron, who's on a non-guaranteed deal for the minimum salary.

Uzoh, who was in training camp with the Nuggets, is currently with the D-League's Springfield Armor. He's appeared in 60 games over the past two seasons with three NBA teams, including a 16-game stint with the Raptors last year in which he started eight contests and averaged 4.8 points and 3.7 assists in 22.3 minutes per game.

Lee, when he reported the news of Price's injury, didn't expect the team to sign another point guard, instead believing Washington would simply shift more ball-handling duties onto Jordan Crawford. The Wizards are already on the hook for the partial guarantee of $300K on the contract of Jannero Pargo, whom they waived to sign Livingston. They're paying the same amount to point guard Shelvin Mack after cutting him loose at the end of training camp. The team has had issues at point guard all season long in the absence of John Wall, who has no timetable for his return from a left patella injury.

The Wizards, who are over the cap, have $3.1MM of their mid-level exception and their full $1.957MM bi-annual exception at their disposal if they want to add someone for more than the minimum salary. Yet given the dearth of intriguing options on the list of available free agent point guards, it seems unlikely they'll have to dip into either exception.

Nuggets Waive Anthony Carter, Ben Uzoh

The Nuggets have officially waived point guards Anthony Carter and Ben Uzoh, the team announced today in a press release. The cuts reduce Denver's roster to 15 players.

Both Carter and Uzoh were signed to the Nuggets' camp roster back on October 1st, the only two players the team brought in on summer contracts. Carter appeared in three preseason games for Denver, while Uzoh played in just one. Neither player was in a great position to earn a spot on the club's regular season roster, since there are 14 Nuggets on fully guaranteed contracts, plus Julyan Stone, whose deal has a partial guarantee.

Carter told HoopsWorld last week that Nuggets coach George Karl had offered him a job as an assistant, so it'll be interesting to see if the veteran guard transitions into coaching or attempts to continue his playing career with another team.