Gary Trent Jr.

Lowe’s Latest: Lillard, Harden, Raptors, Bucks

There has been no forward momentum on the Damian Lillard front, ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks said on the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast (YouTube link). The Trail Blazers guard requested a trade over two months ago, but the team doesn’t seem any closer to making a deal today than it was at the start of July.

“I’ve heard there’s been nothing. No meaningful dialogue at all,” Lowe said. “More pointedly… I just don’t think there’s been another team. If there is, I don’t know about it. That could very well the case, I may not know. But I have not heard of any other team that has really dove head-long – or even halfway – into the Dame Lillard sweepstakes.”

Marks also hasn’t heard any rumblings about any team besides the Heat that’s prepared to make a run at Lillard, and agreed that Portland and Miami don’t appear to have had substantial discussions or made any progress toward a deal.

“It’s been very quiet, certainly, from the Miami front,” Marks said. “I think the only way we hear more about Dame is if Dame makes it messy. And I don’t think Damian Lillard right now is willing to make it messy in Portland.”

Here are a few more highlights from The Lowe Post:

  • As is the case with the Heat and Lillard, the Clippers still appear to be the only viable suitor for Sixers guard James Harden, according to Lowe. “I know that Howard Beck and others have stated that there may be two or three other teams that have been sniffing, investigating,” Lowe said. “Certainly, if you talk to the Sixers, they have reason to say, “Oh, there’s a broad, frothy James Harden market out there.’ I really don’t think there is. I think it’s been mostly the Clippers.” However, Lowe added that the teams haven’t had “a whole lot of dialogue” in the last couple months.
  • While there has been some skepticism that the Clippers are able to offer the sort of package that would appeal to the Sixers for Harden, Lowe believes that Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia front office would be willing to pull the trigger if Los Angeles made the right draft assets available, since those could be flipped for an impact player. “If the Clippers were to put both (of their tradable) first-round picks in, even without (Terance Mann), I think there’s a two-team deal that exists that the Sixers would do,” Lowe said. “I don’t think the two teams have been anywhere close to any of that kind of deal, which is why I think the only play I see for the Sixers here is bring him to camp, hope…he plays pretty well, and the Clippers and some other teams with high expectations sputter over their first 20 games and get desperate.”
  • Lowe suggests he wouldn’t be surprised if the Raptors make some sort of move in the next six weeks, noting that the team still has multiple key players entering contract years (including Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby) and has yet to complete an extension for Gary Trent Jr. that was rumored to be close back in June. “A lot of balls in the air for the Raptors,” Lowe said.
  • Marks and Lowe both believe that the Bucks‘ handling of Jrue Holiday‘s contract situation when he becomes extension-eligible in February could be a crucial domino that affects Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s future. Holiday can opt out of his current contract and become a free agent next summer if he doesn’t sign a new deal before then.

Atlantic Notes: Udofia, Raptors, White, Porzingis, Knicks

The Long Island Nets, Brooklyn’s NBA G League affiliate, have named Mfon Udofia as head coach, according to a league press release. Brooklyn’s intent to hire Udofia for the G League club was previously reported.

“We’re pleased to welcome Mfon to the Nets family,” Long Island Nets GM J.R. Holden said. “His passion for the game and dynamic coaching style have prepared him to lead our development team on Long Island. Our organization is excited to support Mfon and his staff as they lead the next generation of talent this upcoming season.”

Udofia spent last season as an assistant coach with the Ontario Clippers in the G League. He had prior stints with several other NBAGL franchises.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors may not be done dealing, but The Athletic’s Eric Koreen examines how the rotation might shake out if the roster remains unchanged. Koreen believes either Pascal Siakam or Scottie Barnes must be on the court at all times for play-making purposes and either OG Anunoby or Gary Trent Jr. need to be on the floor for shooting purposes. He also doesn’t see lottery pick Gradey Dick as a member of a nine-man rotation, given the team’s other commitments.
  • With Derrick White the undisputed starting point man with the Celtics, The Athletic’s Jared Weiss breaks down how a pick-and-roll partnership between White and Kristaps Porzingis can unlock the team’s full offensive potential.
  • Miles McBride, Jericho Sims or Isaiah Roby could force their way into the Knicks’ rotation, The Athletic’s Fred Katz writes, though if coach Tom Thibodeau goes with his usual nine-man rotation, minutes will be hard to come by for that trio. Katz looks at various lineup combinations and which starter might play with the second unit when the usual four reserves are on the floor.

Raptors, Gary Trent Jr. Nearing Multiyear Extension

After exercising his 2023/24 player option worth $18,785,000, Gary Trent Jr. is closing in on a “lucrative multiyear extension” with the Raptors, league sources tell Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report (Twitter link).

Trent will be extension-eligible on July 7, so a new deal would technically have to wait about a week before becoming official.

The 24-year-old had long been expected to opt out of his option in order to hit the open market and sign a longer-term deal worth perhaps $18-20MM annually. It seems as though that will be coming to fruition, but instead of with a new club, the young shooting guard will be staying with Toronto.

As Blake Murphy of notes (via Twitter), Trent’s extension technically could be worth up to $116.4MM with a starting salary of $25.98MM in ’24/25 due to a change in how veteran extensions work in the new CBA. Murphy doesn’t think Trent will receive that robust total, but it gives more wiggle room for negotiating a larger sum.

Trent is coming off a solid two-and-a-half year stint in Toronto in which he averaged 17.7 points per game on .420/.374/.843 shooting while chipping in 1.6 SPG. He was acquired via trade from Portland in March 2021 for Norman Powell.

The Raptors have been active in free agency, re-signing Jakob Poeltl to a four-year deal but losing longtime veteran Fred VanVleet, who received a three-year, maximum-salary contract from the Rockets. Toronto quickly pivoted to replace VanVleet by signing Dennis Schröder.

Raptors Rumors: VanVleet, Poeltl, Siakam, Trent, Anunoby, Poole

The Raptors believe that they can be “a factor” in the East next season by bringing back the same core, according to Michael Grange of Although Toronto missed the playoffs in 2022/23, the team is apparently confident that a coaching change and a full offseason for this group will help make a difference in ’23/24.

Returning the same core would mean re-signing point guard Fred VanVleet and center Jakob Poeltl, two of the top free agents on the 2023 market. According to Grange, the Raptors are expected to meet with VanVleet in Los Angeles on Friday when free agency opens and are working out plans to link up with Poeltl as well.

Like other reporters, Grange has heard that Houston may be preparing a two-year contract offer in excess of $80MM for VanVleet, which would probably be more than Toronto is willing to pay on an annual basis. However, the Raptors – who might be open to a three- or four-year deal – believe the veteran guard wants to remain in Toronto and is still confident about their ability to bring him back.

As for Poeltl, there has been a belief that the big man will be back in the fold if the Raptors make a four-year offer in the neighborhood of $80MM, Grange says. However, multiple league sources tell that the Spurs – keen on pairing Victor Wembanyama with a veteran center – have inquired about the possibility of reuniting with Poeltl. The Spurs will have the cap room necessary to make life difficult for Toronto if they choose to pursue the 27-year-old, who was dealt from San Antonio to Toronto in February.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Multiple teams have inquired about Pascal Siakam‘s availability, Grange reports. Besides the Hawks, Grange identifies the Hornets, Mavericks, Rockets, Pelicans, and Kings as clubs that have made calls about the two-time All-NBA forward. The Raptors have been open to listening, but not many of the conversations they’ve had about Siakam even qualify as “preliminary” trade discussions, according to Grange.
  • While Gary Trent Jr.‘s camp has conveyed interest in working out an extension after he picked up his 2023/24 player option, the Raptors are taking a wait-and-see approach and haven’t made plans to formally discuss a new deal with Trent in the near future, Grange writes.
  • Before agreeing to trade Jordan Poole to Washington, the Warriors reached out to the Raptors to see if they’d be interested in a deal centered around Poole and forward OG Anunoby, reports Tim Kawakami of The Athletic. Toronto didn’t have interest in exploring the idea further.

Pascal Siakam Hopes To Spend Entire Career With Raptors

Raptors forward Pascal Siakam hopes to finish his career with the only NBA team he’s ever known, a source close to the 29-year-old tells Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.

Smith is confirming — and expanding on — Chris Haynes‘ recent report about Siakam warning off potential trade suitors by suggesting he’d refuse to re-sign with them if he was dealt. Haynes also wrote Siakam wanted to remain with Toronto long term.

General manager Bobby Webster acknowledged the Raptors saw the report, per Smith, though obviously that doesn’t necessarily mean it will impact the team’s decision-making.

It popped right before the draft and we kind of just had a quick chat about it,” Webster said Thursday. “But, no, generally we’re not going to talk about any of that stuff publicly.”

Siakam will be entering a contract year in 2023/24, so a club that gives up a significant package to acquire him would likely want assurances that he’d be willing to stick around for more than one season, even if he doesn’t agree to an extension right away. The Hawks and Blazers are among the teams rumored to have interest in Siakam.

It’s worth noting that Siakam would qualify for a super-max contract – worth 35% of the cap instead of 30% – if he makes an All-NBA team in 2024, but would become ineligible for the super-max if he’s traded. That’s not to say that his reported desire to remain in Toronto isn’t genuine, but he’d also have contract-related reasons to want to stay put.

As Smith writes, the Raptors seem to have a “new era of enthusiasm” — seemingly due to their coaching change — and that may have played a factor in Gary Trent Jr.‘s decision to pick up his player option. New head coach Darko Rajokovic has been meeting with players individually to get to know them, Smith adds.

Having a two-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA member like Siakam putting word out that he wants to stay with the Raptors is a rarity for the organization, Smith notes, with players often spurning Toronto in free agency. It also shows the star forward believes in the team and thinks the 2022/23 season was an “aberration.” Toronto went 41-41 and was eliminated from postseason contention in the play-in tournament.

Smith argues retaining Siakam would be a prudent choice, because the Raptors could move him in the future even if he gets a lucrative extension. He also thinks having one of their best players already seemingly bought in for next season is important if the team wants more on-court success.

Siakam appeared in 71 games last season, leading the league in minutes per game (37.4) for the second straight season. He averaged career highs in points (24.2) and assists (5.8) while pulling down 7.8 rebounds and posting a .480/.324/.774 shooting line.

Trade Rumors: Lakers, Kuminga, Nets, LaVine, Raptors

There has been growing buzz in recent days that the Lakers are increasingly more likely to trade their first-round pick (No. 17) than to keep it, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. In his latest story, Buha explores all the possibilities in play for Los Angeles, including hanging onto the pick, trading out of the draft, or trading down.

As Buha writes, the idea of the Lakers packaging the No. 17 pick with Malik Beasley ($16.5MM team option) and/or Mohamed Bamba ($10.3MM) to acquire a starter-caliber player appears more viable than ever. League sources say that Pacers center Myles Turner and sharpshooter Buddy Hield, Nets wings Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, and Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. are among the players who have been linked to the Lakers.

While it sounds less likely than trading down or out of the draft, Buha says the Lakers have at least considered the possibility of trying to move up from No. 17. Dereck Lively and Kobe Bufkin are among the prospects the club likes, a source tells The Athletic.

Here are more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • Addressing a report from last week that suggested the Warriors have explored moving up in the draft using Jonathan Kuminga, Anthony Slater of The Athletic provides some additional context, writing that rumor stemmed from an inbound call from a lottery team that has long been interested in Kuminga. Multiple sources tell Slater that Golden State isn’t shopping the young forward.
  • While the lottery team that called the Warriors about Kuminga is unknown, it’s worth noting that Slater uses the Pacers as an example in his discussion of that scenario. Additionally, when ESPN updated its mock draft on Wednesday (subscription required), Jonathan Givony added Kuminga to the list of forwards the Pacers may explore acquiring via trade.
  • In the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast (YouTube link), ESPN’s Zach Lowe said the Nets‘ asking prices for forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale have been high. Brooklyn is seeking “real first-round pick equity” for those players, not just looking to move up a few spots in the draft, according to Lowe.
  • Despite reports that they’re gauging his trade market, the Bulls continue to value Zach LaVine very highly, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, who hears from one league source that the team would seek a good young player, multiple first-round picks, and salary filler if LaVine is moved. Another league source thinks a single first-rounder might be sufficient if the Bulls could get an “established, high-end” player back.
  • Toronto has been involved in a series of trade rumors so far this offseason, but a pair of sources who spoke to Michael Grange of indicated that they wouldn’t be surprised if the Raptors don’t do anything drastic. “What I’m hearing now is they’re not going to trade from their core,” one source told Grange.

Raptors’ Gary Trent Jr. To Pick Up 2023/24 Player Option

Raptors wing Gary Trent Jr. has decided to exercise his player option for the 2023/24 season, agents Rich Paul and Lucas Newton of Klutch Sports tell Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT (Twitter links).

The move will guarantee Trent’s $18.79MM salary for next season and will keep him off this year’s free agent market, lining him up instead for unrestricted free agency in 2024.

It’s a surprising decision, given that Trent had long been expected to opt out in order to sign a longer-term deal worth perhaps $18-20MM annually. The 24-year-old is coming off a solid two-and-a-half year stint in Toronto in which he averaged 17.7 points per game on .420/.374/.843 shooting while chipping in 1.6 SPG.

Trent, who is still entering his prime, projected to be one of the best three-and-D players on the market. It’s possible his agents quietly gauged his market and found it wasn’t robust as anticipated.

A desire to remain in Toronto also factored into Trent’s decision, according to Haynes, who says the two sides intend to explore a multiyear agreement. Once he officially picks up his option, the former Trail Blazer will be on track to become extension-eligible in July. The NBA’s new extension rules would allow him to receive a raise of up to 40% on a new deal.

While Trent’s decision to opt in will keep one key Raptors contributor off the free agent market, two others are still expected to become free agents on July 1. Starting point guard Fred VanVleet already declined his own ’23/24 player option, while center Jakob Poeltl will see his current contract expire on June 30.

As Josh Lewenberg of tweets, Trent’s $18MM+ cap hit will make it more challenging for the Raptors to bring back both VanVleet and Poeltl on market-value deals and avoid the luxury tax. While it’s not impossible, it may require a cost-cutting move or two.

The full list of player option decisions for 2023/24 can be found right here.

Fischer’s Latest: Kuzma, Pacers, Rockets, Draft, Raptors, More

The Suns have been targeting Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma for “several seasons,” league sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, but it seems unlikely he’ll be headed to Phoenix this summer.

Kuzma, who has said he plans to decline his $13MM player option in search of a bigger payday, has been linked to the Pacers and Rockets — a couple of teams with cap space — ahead of free agency, says Fischer.

The 27-year-old averaged a career-high 21.2 PPG in 2022/23, along with 7.2 RPG and 3.7 APG (another career-best) in 64 games (35.0 MPG). However, his scoring efficiency left something to be desired — he posted a .448/.333/.730 shooting slash line for a below-average 54.4 true shooting percentage.

It’s unclear if Washington’s new front office will have interest in retaining Kuzma. The prior regime was obviously high on the combo forward, as the club decided to hold onto him through the February trade deadline.

Here’s more from Fischer’s latest rumor round-up for Yahoo Sports:

  • Outside of the top three selections, there’s a lot of uncertainty about how the rest of the lottery will play out, Fischer writes. He suggests that Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin and Metropolitans 92 wing Bilal Coulibaly are worth keeping an eye on as somewhat unexpected top-10 picks. Several teams are reportedly considering moving into or out of the lottery, and sources tell Fischer the Thunder (No. 12) should be added to the list of teams open to moving back in order to add multiple first-rounders.
  • According to Fischer’s sources, while the Raptors continue to weigh various approaches to their roster construction, they still view Scottie Barnes as a franchise cornerstone. Multiple league executives tell Fischer the Raptors are expected to keep investigating pathways to move into the top three of the draft, and they’ve also contacted the Rockets about the fourth overall pick.
  • Moving into the top three or four would almost certainly require the Raptors to part with Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby, Fischer notes. Toronto has had previous trade talks with the Trail Blazers, who control the third pick, centered around both forwards, sources tell Fischer. Both players are entering the final year of their contracts, so presumably any team acquiring either player would have to secure a long-term commitment — they’ll both be extension-eligible this offseason. Fischer hears the Raptors have told rival clubs they declined Portland’s overtures for Anunoby in exchange for the seventh overall pick in 2022, but obviously last year’s seventh pick has a different valuation than a top-three selection in a draft that is viewed as having three standout prospects.
  • Multiple sources tell Fischer that Anunoby is “very much” open to staying with the Raptors if he can land a bigger role in the team’s offense under new head coach Darko Rajakovic. However, he suggests that might change if Siakam and Fred VanVleet remain on the roster alongside Barnes next season. The Kings are among the teams interested in Anunoby, Fischer writes, with Harrison Barnes‘ future up in the air ahead of free agency.
  • Despite opting out of his player option, VanVleet is still open to re-signing with the Raptors, per Fischer. $90MM over three years appears to be VanVleet’s floor for a new contract, according to Fischer, who adds that fellow guard Gary Trent Jr. will likely command “at least” $20MM annually in free agency. Trent is expected to decline his own player option, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet. The deadline on Trent’s decision was reported to be June 14, but may have been pushed back — ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) now lists that deadline as June 29.

Fred VanVleet Declines Player Option, Will Become UFA

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet has turned down his $22.8MM player option for next season and will become an unrestricted free agent, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that VanVleet would be willing to consider a new deal to stay in Toronto. However, he’ll be one of the top names on the free agent market and is expected to be targeted by plenty of teams with cap space and others that might be interested working out a sign-and-trade.

Wojnarowski notes that several contending teams talked to the Raptors about trading for VanVleet before the February deadline, adding that many of those teams will continue to pursue the 29-year-old guard once free agency beings on June 30.

Teams with ample cap space such as the Rockets and Magic are expected to have interest in VanVleet, which could price some other competitors out of the market, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

An All-Star during the 2021/22 season, VanVleet has played his entire career in Toronto after joining the team when he went undrafted in 2016. He emerged as a full-time starter in his fourth NBA season and was part of the 2019 squad that captured the only NBA title in Raptors history.

Along with scoring 19.3 PPG this season, VanVleet averaged a career-best 7.2 assists per game and ranked in the top 10 in the league in assists-to-turnover ratio. He was also third in the NBA in steals with 1.8 per game and first in deflections.

Most players have until June 29 to make option decisions for next season, but VanVleet’s deadline was Wednesday, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Teammate Gary Trent Jr. also has until Wednesday to decide on his $18.6MM option for 2023/24.

VanVleet is still eligible for an extension, Marks adds, but the Raptors can only offer $114MM over four years under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement (Twitter link). Changes to the new CBA, which takes effect July 1, would have increased that maximum extension to $133MM with a starting salary of $29.8MM, but VanVleet will be a free agent by that point, making him eligible for a projected maximum salary of $40.2MM.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Trent, Hawks, Sanogo, Wizards

The Magic hold a pair of lottery picks and an early second-round selection in this month’s draft. What picks would be ideal at those spots? Jeremy Woo of ESPN weighs in on that subject and believes Overtime Elite shooting guard Ausar Thompson and Kansas shooting guard Gradey Dick would make nice fits at No. 6 and No. 11, respectively. Belmont small forward Ben Sheppard would give the Magic another shooting option if they chose him at No. 36, Woo adds.

We have more from the Southeast Division: