Christian Koloko

Christian Koloko Facing Career-Threatening Blood Clot Issue

Former Raptors center Christian Koloko has a blood clot issue that is threatening his basketball career, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

According to Charania, the NBA told teams today that Koloko was referred to the NBA’s Fitness-to-Play Panel, which means he is unable to play or practice in the league until he is cleared.

Koloko was waived by the Raptors yesterday following the Pascal Siakam trade and Charania says there is no shortage of teams who were interested in acquiring him before learning of this development.

The NBA’s Fitness-to-Play panel helps deal with and determine options for players with potentially life-threatening injuries or conditions.

Koloko had a promising rookie season in 2022/23 after being selected with the 33rd overall pick in the 2022 draft. Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri spoke highly of Koloko on Thursday and said he saw the former Arizona center as part of Toronto’s future.

Recurring issues with blood clots forced former NBA players like Chris Bosh and Mirza Teletovic into early retirement in the past. Other players – including Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram – have been able to resume their careers following a single occurrence of a blood clot.

Our best wishes go out to Koloko and we hope he is able to enjoy a happy, healthy and fulfilling life and career.

Raptors’ Ujiri: More Trades “Definitely” Possible

The Raptors have made a pair of blockbuster trades in the past few weeks, dealing away longtime veteran forwards OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam for packages centered on young players and draft picks, respectively. They also acquired a valuable role player in swingman Bruce Brown, who is on a pseudo-expiring $22MM contract (2024/25 is a team option for $23MM).

Speaking to the media on Thursday afternoon, Raptors vice chairman and president Masai Ujiri said more trades are “definitely” a possibility ahead of the February 8 deadline, as Blake Murphy of relays (via Twitter). In particular, Ujiri highlighted shooting and flexibility as areas of emphasis, Murphy adds.

In a Twitter thread, Murphy passes along several noteworthy comments from Ujiri’s press conference addressing the trades, his close relationship with Siakam, the team’s plans for the future, and much more.

According to Murphy, Ujiri was “clearly quite emotional” when discussing the moves, which he called “incredibly difficult.”

These things happen but that one is close to me,” he said. “I hate to go on this little rant, but what I think of the world globally, and what these guys represent, and where I come from, where they come from, it’s meant a lot to me. … Trust me, we’ve analyzed this in every single way.”

Two African guys that won a championship, I share that with him,” Ujiri said of Siakam (Twitter video link via The Shift). “ … Again, I say to you guys, that guy’s success is my success no matter where he is.”

Ujiri wanted to give the previous roster as much time as it could, but it was trending in the wrong direction. He also cited free agency — both Anunoby and Siakam can be unrestricted free agents this summer — and a desire to get younger around Scottie Barnes as key factors in the moves, per Murphy.

Here’s more from Ujiri’s lengthy press conference:

  • Ujiri had nothing but praise for how Siakam carried himself and performed over the past year while dealing with trade rumors, tweets Josh Lewenberg of He handled it perfectly,” Ujiri said of Siakam. “I give him 100 out of 100. It has to be difficult, and I said that to him. … Nothing stopped him from coming to work everyday and trying to be the best he could be while he performed. We truly respect that.” However, Ujiri says he regrets how he handled things on his end during the offseason, Lewenberg adds (via Twitter). “I think the lines of communication in the summer were not that great. That part I’m not particularly proud of,” Ujiri said, adding that he apologized to Siakam.
  • When asked if he regretted not making more trades last season, Ujiri said he didn’t, citing a desire to give the 2022/23 team more chances to succeed. He also doesn’t second-guess himself about last year’s trade for Jakob Poeltl. When you trade a first-round pick for a starting center in the NBA, in our business and for us, it’s good — for now and for the future,” Ujiri said, per Lewenberg (Twitter link). “I’m not going to sit here and cry over spilled milk. If it was a mistake, it was a mistake, but it was good value for us.”
  • Regarding Christian Koloko, whom the Raptors waived to create roster space for the latest deal, Ujiri said his medical status was in the hands of the NBA. Koloko has yet to play this season due to a respiratory issue. “We’ve exhausted all our options there,” Ujiri said (Twitter link via Murphy) “I can’t comment on particulars. It’s really unfortunate. … He was someone we really believed in. Incredible talent. We saw as the future of this team.
  • The Raptors could have four picks in the 2024 draft, depending on what happens with their own first-rounder (it will be sent to San Antonio as part of the Poeltl deal if it lands outside the top six). They acquired the Pistons’ second-round pick in the Anunoby deal, plus two more 2024 first-rounders from Indiana that are projected to be in the latter portion of what’s considered a weak draft class. Ujiri “strongly doubts” that the Raptors will actually keep all of those picks, tweets Murphy.

Raptors Trade Pascal Siakam To Pacers, Waive Christian Koloko

The Raptors have traded star forward Pascal Siakam to the Pacers for Bruce Brown, Kira Lewis, Jordan Nwora, two 2024 first-round picks, and a top-four protected 2026 first-rounder, Indiana announced in a press release.

We’re incredibly excited to welcome Pascal to Indiana,” said president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard. “As a two-time All-NBA selection and two-time NBA All Star, Pascal is a player that our organization has long admired and respected. We feel that his unique offensive skillset will complement our style of play, while his defensive versatility will be a valuable asset to our team.”

The Raptors also announced the trade is complete in their own press release.

Pascal is a champion, an integral part of winning teams and an example of what can be achieved with dedication, perseverance, hard work and tenacity,” said Raptors vice chairman and president Masai Ujiri. “We’re lucky to have seen Pascal develop into the man and player that he is today – and we are grateful for everything he has done for our city and for our franchise. We wish him all good things.

This is a time of change for our team, and we welcome Bruce, Jordan and Kira to the Raptors and to Toronto. Bruce is a world champion, and we look forward to his two-way play and added toughness on the court. We continue the work of getting better every day, and continue moving forward in our quest to win here in Toronto.”

The Raptors needed to release a player to complete the deal, and that roster casualty was second-year center Christian Koloko, who has yet to play this season due to a respiratory issue. Assuming he clears waivers, Toronto will be on the hook for Koloko’s full 2023/24 salary, which comes in at $1,719,864. His salary for next season was non-guaranteed.

As a rookie last season, Koloko showed promise as a rim protector, averaging 3.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG and 1.0 BPG in 58 games, including 19 starts (13.8 MPG).

According to Blake Murphy of (Twitter link), the Raptors are still “very high” on Koloko, but since there’s no timeline for his return to action, he was the odd man out. Murphy wouldn’t be surprised if Toronto signs Koloko to a G League contract or re-signs him to an NBA deal in the future.

Echoing that last point, Michael Grange of believes there’s “a good chance” Koloko will remain with the Raptors in some capacity (Twitter link). Grange also hears Koloko has been ramping up his activity lately, but it’s unknown when the Cameroonian big man will be cleared to play again.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, all four players involved in the deal can be traded again prior to the February 8 deadline but cannot be aggregated with other salaries. The Raptors also created a $10.2MM traded player exception in the deal, per Marks (Twitter link).

The Raptors now have a full 15-man roster, while the Pacers have 13 players on standard deals. Teams aren’t permitted to carry fewer than 14 players on standard contracts for more than 14 days at a time, so Indiana will have two weeks to re-add a 14th man.

For more details on the blockbuster trade, check out our story from earlier in the day, before it became official.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Koloko, Siakam, Sixers

Appearing on FanDuel’s Run It Back show (Twitter video link), Shams Charania of The Athletic said that he anticipates the Celtics being active on the trade market as February’s deadline nears. The goal for the C’s, Charania says, will be to “beef up” their bench rotation.

The expectation coming into the season was that Boston would have a top-heavy roster, and that has certainly been the case so far this fall. Top scorers Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kristaps Porzingis have averaged nearly 69 combined points per game, while the club’s reserves are totaling just 25.7 points per contest, which ranks 29th in the NBA.

As Charania observes, the Celtics parted with a pair of future first-round picks in their preseason trade for Jrue Holiday, but one of those came from Golden State, so they still have some flexibility with draft assets going forward and could theoretically move multiple first-rounders. The team also has a trade exception worth approximately $6.2MM that could come in handy in a deal involving a player earning a modest salary.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • There are still no concrete updates on the status of Raptors big man Christian Koloko, who has been sidelined since Summer League due to a respiratory issue, tweets Michael Grange of The 23-year-old appeared in 58 games as a rookie last season, but is still just doing drill work with coaches after practices and has yet to participate in full practices this fall, Grange notes.
  • Raptors forward Pascal Siakam is in the midst of one of the worst shooting slumps of his career, having made just five of his last 52 three-pointers, per Josh Lewenberg of Siakam’s poor shooting has been a major factor in Toronto’s underwhelming 33.7% rate on threes (28th in the NBA), but he’s confident he’ll turn things around. “I think the most important [thing] is just putting the work in,” Siakam said. “… Either you stop shooting them or the other thing you do is you keep shooting and it just kinda [evens out]. I think it’s just basketball. It happens and you just got to continue to work on it, trust the work and the process.”
  • The scheduling around the in-season tournament has resulted in a stretch of four consecutive off-days for the Sixers. Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer takes a closer look at how the 76ers have been taking advantage of the break in their schedule, including head coach Nick Nurse giving his team two days off followed by two days of “sharp, intense” practices.

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Anunoby, Ujiri, Koloko

Pascal Siakam offered a carefully worded response when asked about his future with the Raptors, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Siakam is headed to unrestricted free agency next summer unless he signs an extension. He’s also been the subject of numerous trade rumors.

“I’m under contract. I’m a Raptors player,” he said. “That’s what I’m focused on. I’m focused on the present.”

Raptors president Masai Ujiri, when asked about the lack of extension talks regarding his power forward, gave a general response about his dissatisfaction with how last season played out, Michael Grange of Sportsnet tweets.

“A lot of players didn’t play the right way,” he said. “I said it, that we were selfish, I’m not running away from that. We were selfish and we didn’t play the right way. So let us see it when we play the right way.”
We have more on the Raptors:
  • Another player who has been the subject of numerous trade rumors, OG Anunoby, indicated he hopes to stay put, Lewenberg tweets “I love Toronto, so I want to be here,” he said. Contractually, he’s in a different situation than Siakam, though both players can reach free agency next summer. Anunoby holds a $19,928,571 option on his contract for the 2024/25 season. He added he’ll let his reps handle any extension talks.
  • Ujiri is content with Toronto’s roster for now, but he acknowledged he’ll continue to be active in the trade market, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “This is the team, now, that we want to take into next season,” Ujiri said. “Did we look at other opportunities (in the summer)? Yes we did. Did we look at maybe going younger? Yes we did. But sometimes those opportunities are there and sometimes they’re not there. … I know everybody’s looking for trades, I know everybody’s looking for moves. Trust me — when the right ones come, the right opportunities come, maybe we’ll take those opportunities.”
  • Christian Koloko‘s health problems have not subsided. The young big man will miss training camp due to ongoing respiratory issues, Blake Murphy of tweets. Koloko also sat out Summer League action due to the same issue.

Raptors Notes: Starting Five, Poeltl, Koloko, Anunoby

The trade-deadline addition of Jakob Poeltl has finally given the Raptors a starting five that can dominate opposing lineups, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

For most of the last two seasons, Toronto’s go-to five-man group of Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, and Gary Trent Jr. only narrowly outscored opponents. However, since replacing Trent in that group with Poeltl, the Raptors’ starting five has become a major strength.

The lineup with Trent has played a team-high 378 minutes this season and posted a plus-0.8 net rating. The five-man group featuring Poeltl has already logged 163 minutes and has an impressive plus-17.3 net rating during that time. While Poeltl’s rim-protecting ability has helped stabilize Toronto’s defense, the club’s offense has also been highly effective when he’s on the floor, scoring 123.6 points per 100 possessions.

“(Poeltl has) given us a little bit better screening game, a roll threat,” head coach Nick Nurse said, per Koreen. “When you got the roll threat going, it usually gives you a little bit of a weakside catch-and-shoot opportunity.”

In order to keep their successful new starting five together next season, the Raptors will likely need to negotiate new deals for both Poeltl and VanVleet, since both players can reach unrestricted free agency this summer. Trent will also likely be a free agent.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • After not being a part of the Raptors’ rotation for several weeks, Christian Koloko logged 12 minutes in Thursday’s victory over Oklahoma City, Koreen notes. Nurse said this week that he’d like to keep either Poeltl or Koloko on the floor most of the time to anchor the defense, so the rookie could see more regular minutes in the coming weeks.
  • Anunoby is something of a defensive “unicorn,” writes Blake Murphy of, observing that the Raptors forward has guarded everyone from Bradley Beal to DeMar DeRozan to Nikola Jokic in recent weeks. “He’s positionless. Positionless defense,” Nurse said. “He’s probably optimal at his position, a wing player. Probably. But he does so good on two-guards and bigs when he needs to, as well. He hasn’t really guarded his position in the last several games.”
  • Within the same story, Murphy takes a deep dive on how possible changes to the NBA’s rules governing veteran extensions could affect the Raptors’ ability to lock up Anunoby before he becomes eligible for free agency in 2024. As Murphy details, the current rules would limit Toronto’s best extension offer to about $100MM over four years, but if the NBA allows extensions to begin at 150% of the player’s previous salary instead of 120%, the Raptors could bump their offer as high as approximately $125MM over four years.
  • As Doug Smith of The Toronto Star points out, the Raptors will finish their season next month with two games in Boston and one vs. Milwaukee, so they could benefit from load management if the Celtics and Bucks are locked into playoff seeds and decide not to play their starters big minutes in those games.

Raptors Notes: Siakam, Bench, Barton, Achiuwa, Koloko, Schedule

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam acknowledges he hasn’t been playing up to his usual standards, Josh Lewenberg of TSN writes. Siakam averaged just 15.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists on 42% shooting during the team’s 1-4 road trip, well below his All-Star caliber production.

“I think I’ve just gotta figure out the flow of the offense, how we play and things like that,” Siakam said. “Some things are different but I’ve just got to continue to find my spots, continue to find a way into the offense and find my spots without doing too much or overplaying. But I think the main thing is just having fun with the game. I love the process of getting better and the process of struggling and finding a way out of it.”

We have more on the Raptors:

  • The reserves were outscored 150-82 in the team’s last four defeats and coach Nick Nurse has lowered the proverbial bar on their performance level, according to Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star. “If they are average, that’s probably good enough. If they are a little bit below, that’s still probably good enough,” Nurse said. “They just can’t be so far below average where all the hard work we did for 12 minutes, 15 minutes, 22 minutes, 28 minutes just disappears in three.”
  • Speaking of the reserves, Nurse is contemplating some tweaks to the second unit, Lewenberg tweets. Nurse referred to recently signed Will Barton as the backup point guard. Nurse also wants to spark Precious Achiuwa by playing him more often at the wing than at center. That could open up a rotation spot for Christian Koloko in the middle.
  • Toronto plays seven of its next eight games at home and that will likely determine whether the club qualifies for the play-in tournament, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes. “The main thing for us is to continue to focus on getting better, playing better, getting some wins and get in the tournament and then we’ll see what happens,” Nurse said.

Raptors Notes: Achiuwa, Boucher, VanVleet, Koloko

Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa appears to be on the verge of returning from a right ankle injury. He was put through a vigorous on-court workout after the team’s practice today, according to Josh Lewenberg of (Twitter links), who notes that Achiuwa has been upgraded to questionable for Thursday’s game vs. Memphis.

Despite the change in Achiuwa’s status on the injury report, Lewenberg believes the former first-round pick is more likely to return for Friday’s game vs. Phoenix. Achiuwa hasn’t played since November 9.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Raptors big man Chris Boucher has logged just 22 total minutes in the last three games and has scored only two points during that stretch. Asked if Achiuwa’s return could benefit Boucher, head coach Nick Nurse simply stated, Chris needs to play better (Twitter link via Lewenberg).
  • After leaving Tuesday’s game due to lower back stiffness, Fred VanVleet is listed as questionable for Thursday, tweets Blake Murphy of The Raptors’ starting point guard is dealing with back spasms, according to Nurse (Twitter link via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps). If VanVleet has to miss any time, Malachi Flynn has earned the opportunity to play a larger role, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.
  • Rookie center Christian Koloko, also listed as questionable for Thursday’s game, is getting an MRI on his sore right knee today, tweets Michael Grange of
  • Both Grange and Lewenberg explored what it meant to have Clippers forwards Kawhi Leonard and Norman Powell – two members of the Raptors’ 2019 championship team – back in the building on Tuesday. Despite Leonard’s reputation for being “notoriously stoic,” even the former Finals MVP was feeling a little nostalgic, according to Grange. With the Clippers still managing his knee, Leonard was given the choice of sitting out Monday’s game in Detroit or Tuesday in Toronto — he opted to face the Raptors. “It’s always great memories coming in this arena,” Kawhi said. “And if I was going to sit a game I’d rather give the fans in Toronto a chance to see me play again.”

Eastern Notes: Avdija, Westbrook, Koloko, Taylor, Knicks

Wizards forward Deni Avdija credits former teammate Russell Westbrook for mentoring him during his rookie season, as he told Josh Robbins and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

The current Lakers guard continues to have an impact on Avdija, who is averaging 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for the Wizards this season. “He really took care of me,” Avdija said. “He really cared about my success, and he wanted me to be mentally tough. When he sees me now, every time he sees me, he gives me advice after the game or something that I need to do better, and I love it. He always has a lot of effect (on me) because he was my first veteran that I met when I came to the league.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Rookie Christian Koloko leads the Raptors in games played this season due to rash of injuries throughout the roster but he’s not yet the answer at center, Josh Lewenberg of TSN writes. Koloko’s growing pains are showing during the team’s current slide and he may need more seasoning in the G League. “He’s got to play through those mistakes,” Fred VanVleet said. “It’s not necessarily his fault that we need him at his mature self right this second.”
  • Pacers forward Terry Taylor will play with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in their two games this week at the G League Showcase, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Taylor will get some much-needed playing time. The second-year player hasn’t appeared at all in the past five games for Indiana and has only seen seven total minutes of action in December.
  • The Knicks open a four-game homestand this week but they’ve been better on the road, Peter Botte of the New York Post notes. They’ve won seven consecutive games overall and six straight outside of Madison Square Garden. “How do I say this? I don’t know what the word I’m supposed to use is, but on the road we’re locked in. At home we’re comfortable,” Jalen Brunson said. “It’s something we’ve got to get better at and continue to do that. I just like the way we’re playing.”

And-Ones: Frazier, Offseason Moves, 2023 Draft, Rookies

Former Rockets guard Michael Frazier has signed with the Illawara Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League, the team announced in a press release. Frazier will serve as an injury replacement for another former NBA player, George King.

Frazier, 28, went undrafted out of Florida in 2015 and spent several seasons in the G League, plus one in Italy, before getting an opportunity to make his NBA debut in 2020 for Houston. He appeared in 13 games during the 2019/20 season as a Rocket, then returned to the G League before spending last season in Australia with the Perth Wildcats.

Having seen Frazier play for Perth last season, Illawara Hawks head coach Jacob Jackomas believes his team is getting a quality player: “He is a willing defender with great size and strength, and be it at the 3-point line or getting downhill and attacking the basket, we feel like he will make an immediate impact on the group.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The Kings, Trail Blazers, and Pacers look like some of the under-the-radar winners of the 2022 offseason, writes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (subscription required). Marks also highlights Magic big man Bol Bol, Bucks guard Jevon Carter, and Suns wing Damion Lee as some of the best value signings of the summer.
  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has updated his 2023 mock draft, projecting all 58 picks and providing analysis for each one. Next year’s draft will only be 58 picks instead of 60 because the Sixers and Bulls have forfeited their second-rounders due to free agency gun-jumping violations.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic ranks this season’s top 15 rookie performers to date, with Magic forward Paolo Banchero and Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin leading the way. The only second-round pick to crack the top 15 is Raptors big man Christian Koloko, who was selected 33rd overall but ranks eighth on Vecenie’s list.