Malachi Flynn

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.”

Raptors Notes: Barnes, FVV, Brown, Flynn

Second-year Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, the reigning Rookie of the Year, has been solid if unspectacular this season for Toronto. Toronto point guard Fred VanVleet spoke at length about the 21-year-old’s development in 2022/23 and his long-term outlook, per Josh Lewenberg of (Twitter link).

“I think you guys are waiting for him to hatch into some beautiful butterfly, but again, that’s up to him,” VanVleet said. “It’s our job to try to support him in that and tell him the truth and keep him honest and hold him accountable. But at the end of the day, when he plays great we’re happy for him and when he plays bad we’re there for him. The outside noise is always just noise.

“… He’s a hell of a player,” VanVleet continued. “That’s why everybody is so excited about him, which is why the expectations are so high but it’s good for him. There’s gonna be ups and downs, there’s gonna be challenges, but the magic is in making it through that and persevering and fighting through adversity, and he’s done that.”

Eric Koreen of The Athletic notes that Barnes has been somewhat inconsistent this season for the 13-16 Raptors, and seems at times to be an awkward fit alongside Toronto’s best player, All-NBA big man Pascal Siakam.

Through 26 games this season, the 6’9″ Barnes is averaging 14.9 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 4.7 APG, 0.8 BPG and 0.8 SPG. He is posting solid shooting splits of .482/.309/.737.

There’s more out of Jurassic Park:

  • After signing a G League contract, veteran NBA swingman Sterling Brown is joining the Raptors’ NBAGL franchise, Raptors 905, reports Blake Murphy of (via Twitter). Brown still holds intrigue as a high-level shooter. The 27-year-old, a 6’5″ shooting guard out of SMU, has five season of NBA experience under his belt between stints with the Bucks, Rockets and most recently the Mavericks last season. He holds career averages of 5.4 PPG and 3.3 RPG. Brown is also a career 36.4% shooter from long range on 2.6 attempts, which could appeal to a Toronto team in need of help from beyond the arc. As of this writing, the Raptors rank 29th in the league with a 32.4% three-point conversion rate and 22nd in attempts at 31.7 per game.
  • Though a sound, versatile defensive unit, the Raptors have struggled on the other end of the floor. When Malachi Flynn was pressed into starting service due to the injury absence of Gary Trent Jr., in an eventual 119-116 loss to the Nets Friday night, he and VanVleet looked like a potent scoring pair, opines Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Against Brooklyn, Flynn scored 13 points while VanVleet poured in 39. Smith notes that the two guards, both listed at 6’1″, cumulatively went 6-for-14 from long range. Flynn has been nailing 37.6% of his modest 2.5 treys a night. “(If) we can keep finding ways to be effective defensively — I think that’s the number one concern from the coaching staff with both of us out there,” VanVleet said. “I thought we found ways (Friday) and found lineups that can make it work. He was a huge spark plug in making shots, just creating things, and just having another guy that can get in the paint and make plays.”
  • In case you missed it, Raptors defensive stalwart OG Anunoby is set to miss at least a week as a result of a sore left hip.

Raptors Pick Up 2023/24 Options On Barnes, Flynn, Achiuwa

11:52am: The Raptors have officially announced that they’ve exercised their 2023/24 options on Barnes, Flynn, and Achiuwa, locking in approximately $16.26MM in total salary for the trio in ’23/24.

11:42am: The Raptors have exercised their team option on guard Malachi Flynn for the 2023/24 season, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), and are doing the same for their ’23/24 option on big man Precious Achiuwa, tweets Blake Murphy of

The 29th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Flynn has appeared in 91 games during his first two seasons as a Raptor, averaging 6.0 PPG and 2.3 APG in 16.1 MPG during that time, with a shooting line of .380/.326/.750. He’s currently recovering from a left cheekbone fracture and will wear a face mask to open the season.

As Murphy notes, Flynn’s fourth-year option wasn’t a lock to be exercised, since he has yet to establish himself as a regular rotation player in Toronto. However, the Raptors’ decision to guarantee his $3,873,025 salary for 2023/24 suggests they still believe he can become one.

Achiuwa, meanwhile, enjoyed a mini-breakout season after being acquired from Miami in last summer’s Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade. He averaged 9.1 PPG and 6.5 RPG in 73 games (23.6 MPG) for the Raptors in 2021/22, making 35.9% of his three-pointers.

Achiuwa was also Toronto’s most-used reserve in the team’s playoff series vs. Philadelphia, averaging 27.8 minutes per contest despite coming off the bench in five of six games. His fourth-year option for 2023/24 is worth $4,379,527.

The Raptors also hold a third-year option on Scottie Barnes, which will pay the reigning Rookie of the Year $8,008,680 in 2023/24. That option is a lock to be exercised before the October 31 deadline, but it’s not technically official yet, tweets Murphy.

Atlantic Notes: McBride, Flynn, Claxton, Nets

Second-year Knicks guard Miles McBride is hoping that his solid defense will earn him regular rotation minutes, per Steve Popper of Newsday.

Popper notes that McBride is trying to make an instant impact to prove his mettle as a contributor, seizing upon every preseason opportunity to showcase his abilities on the defensive end of the floor. To wit, he recorded six steals in under 23 minutes during New York’s first preseason game Tuesday.

“I always want to bring a defensive presence first,” McBride said. “I feel like that gets my offense going… [Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau] controls the minutes… And I’m obviously going to do anything I can to get on the floor and make a great impression.”

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Third-year Raptors reserve point guard Malachi Flynn had a “procedure” to repair a left cheekbone fracture he incurred during a weekend preseason game, reports Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Grange adds that Flynn should be back with Toronto ahead of the team’s regular season opener, albeit while donning a face shield.
  • Nets head coach Steve Nash asserts that newly re-signed Brooklyn center Nic Claxton has evolved in the way he develops his game, writes Ethan Sears of The New York Post“His attention to detail, his consistency, I think you see the benefits,” Nash said. “It feels like he can play longer stretches at high intensity. He’s a little stronger, more physical in traffic. We’re just gonna keep growing his understanding of the game and situational awareness.”
  • Following an isolation-heavy few years with All-Stars Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant at the helm, the Nets are now focusing on a more pass-happy approach to their offense, Brian Lewis of The New York Post reports. “You look at some of our possessions last year, it was a lot of one-on-one,” Irving said. “You guys [reporters] talked about it often and we were well aware of it that that offense when the ball sticks it’s just not the greatest brand of basketball you can play.”

Atlantic Notes: Layman, J. Jackson, Celtics, Raptors, Sixers

When they signed with the Celtics, Jake Layman and Justin Jackson both received one-year, minimum-salary contracts that are non-guaranteed. However, the terms of those agreements are slightly different — Layman got an Exhibit 10 clause in his contract, while Jackson’s deal is an Exhibit 9, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Both Layman and Jackson are ineligible to have their contracts converted into two-way deals because they have too many years of NBA service under their belts. But Layman’s Exhibit 10 contract makes him eligible to receive a $50K bonus if he’s waived before the season and then spends at least 60 days with the Maine Celtics, Boston’s G League team.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Eastern Notes: Barnes, Flynn, Heat, Schedule, Haslem

Young Raptors players Scottie Barnes, the reigning Rookie of the Year, and Malachi Flynn, were able to really strut their stuff at a Toronto pro-am game on Saturday, writes Gilbert Ngabo of The Toronto Star. Flynn scored 54 points and Barnes poured in 34 of his own at Mattamy Athletic Centre, during the first pro-am contest in almost three years due to COVID-19-related delays. The Raptors players’ team would ultimately win the contest, 143-131.

Nbago adds that the pair showcased plenty of chemistry and highlight-reel-worthy output. Barnes, a 6’9″ forward out of Florida State, made several athletic dunks and connected on flashy no-look dishes. Though Flynn started off the game slowly, he eventually showed off an excellent shooting stroke as the contest got cooking.

There’s more out of the East:

  • While the Heat’s starting lineup remains a bit in flux, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel is fairly confident about who will close games for Miami. In addition to starters Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry, Winderman considers guards Tyler Herro and Victor Oladipo likely to round out the team’s closing five.
  • Winderman also goes on to unpack how he anticipates the Heat will allocate minutes. He expects Butler, Adebayo, Lowry, and Herro to be guaranteed to receive major run this season, with Oladipo, Max Strus, and Caleb Martin also likely to receive significant rotation roles. He thinks either Dewayne Dedmon or Omer Yurtseven will crack the rotation as a reserve big man option, and believes the shooting of Gabe Vincent, Duncan Robinson, or Haywood Highsmith on any given night could dictate which of those three wings sees the floor.
  • The NBA is aiming to curb road travel in the hopes of limiting load management for star players. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes that, as a consequence, 12 of the Heat‘s 41 home games at FTX Arena will feature pairs of back-to-back contests against the same team, including playoff-level clubs like the Bucks, Raptors, Hawks, Cavaliers and Hornets. Winderman writes that this approach could impede just how much Miami fans will get to see rival teams’ star players, noting that an injury or illness could ultimately mean local fans will miss out on seeing Giannis Antetokounmpo or Trae Young during the regular season. Winderman adds that, in general, the NBA has lowered its travel mileage tally to 41,000 miles per club, 2,000 miles less than the 2021/22 season’s former record low of 43,000.
  • Longtime Heat power forward Udonis Haslem announced earlier today that he will re-sign with Miami for his 20th, and last, NBA season. Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes that the three-time champ hopes to join the team’s ownership group, led by Mickey Arison, after he retires. Chiang notes that the Heat are just $200K beneath the league’s luxury tax, and expects the team to field a 14-man standard roster, leaving one roster spot available. By avoiding the luxury tax for the third straight season, the Heat would be working towards avoiding the repeater tax, which penalizes clubs that exceed the luxury tax thrice during a four-season window.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Anunoby, Flynn, Sixers, Celtics

Appearing on CNBC on Monday (video link), financial analyst Jonathan Boyar said that there’s a belief Knicks owner James Dolan will explore selling his sports franchises after Madison Square Garden Entertainment finishes building the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas. The new Vegas venue is scheduled to open in 2023.

However, an MSG executive responded to that report with a quick and succinct denial, according to Knicks reporter Tommy Beer (Twitter link).

We have no plans to sell either of the teams,” the executive said of the Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

  • OG Anunoby and Malachi Flynn are among the Raptors facing the most pressure in 2022/23, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. As Koreen outlines, if Anunoby can stay healthy and continues to develop on offense, he could become an All-Star caliber player, but he still has to stay on the court and show he deserves that bigger role. Flynn, meanwhile, is entering the third year of his rookie contract and may not be part of Toronto’s future plans if he doesn’t establish himself as a reliable backup this season.
  • Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer examines some lingering offseason questions facing the Sixers, including whether the team will get seriously involved in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes and how the NBA’s investigation into the team’s free agency moves might play out.
  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic takes a look at whether or not there will be regular minutes available in the Celtics‘ rotation for Payton Pritchard and/or Sam Hauser following the team’s offseason acquisition of Malcolm Brogdon. While Weiss believes both players are capable of contributing in Boston, he suggests they’ll have to earn their playing time.

Atlantic Notes: Grimes, Vonleh, Nurse, Maxey, Rivers

In an effort to upgrade his skills on the ball and as a play-maker, second-year Knicks guard Quentin Grimes trained with four-time NBA All-Star and current University of Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway for a second consecutive offseason, per Zach Braziller of the New York Post (subscription required).

“He’s kind of like a big uncle to me,” Grimes said of Hardaway. “Just took me under his wing and helped me play the point guard position a lot better, because that’s what I was in high school… Last year, they didn’t necessarily need me to do that — got to come in, play extremely hard on defense, knock down shots. I feel like next year my role will be expanded a little bit more. … I’m a scorer, really. I love getting to the mid-range, getting all the way to the rim, getting fouled. I like having an all-around game.”

The 6’5″ shooting guard out of Houston was selected with the No. 25 pick in the 2021 draft. A right kneecap injury and a bout with COVID-19 limited his on-court availability to just 46 contests. In 17.1 MPG, he averaging 6.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 APG and 0.7 SPG. As Braziller writes, Grimes shone bright during Summer League in Las Vegas last month, averaging 21.4 PPG on 41% field goal shooting, plus 4.2 RPG and 4.0 APG.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Jared Weiss of The Athletic explores how 2014 lottery pick Noah Vonleh could help the Celtics if he makes the team’s 15-man regular season roster following his training camp audition. Weiss thinks Boston could benefit from Vonleh’s abilities as a screener with some defensive versatility as a post presence. In 339 games played for seven teams, the 26-year-old holds averages of 4.9 PPG and 5.1 RPG. He spent last year with the Shanghai Sharks of the CBA. In terms of NBA action, Vonleh most recently suited up for the Nets during the 2020/21 season.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is preparing to juggle the challenge of doling out time for three exciting bench players who are still in early phases of their NBA development, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. When it comes allocating rotation minutes for Malachi Flynn, Dalano Banton and Justin Champagnie, Nurse spoke candidly about his approach. “I can envision sitting in front of [media members] a lot here coming up in these press conferences, pre- and post-game, asking me about why he played and why he didn’t,” Nurse said. “I think there will be some serious finessing about it, but it’s turning in my head a little bit and I can see us using a lot of them different ways.”
  • During an appearance on the Vince Carter Show podcast, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers heaped praise on breakout shooting guard Tyrese Maxey (h/t to Adam Herman of NBC Sports Philadelphia for the transcription). “He’s the most impressive young player I’ve ever had, in 21 years of coaching,” Rivers said. “His work ethic, Vince, is beyond belief.” As Herman notes, Rivers has coached All-Stars like Blake Griffin, Al Jefferson, Ben Wallace, and Rajon Rondo in similarly early phases of their NBA careers. Maxey enjoyed an excellent second season in 2021/22. His 17.5 PPG, 4.3 APG, and 3.2 RPG are all almost double his rookie season output.

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Rivers, Knicks, Flynn

Sixers guard James Harden was still an elite player in 2021/22, but his numbers began trending in the wrong direction and he appeared to have lost the explosive first step that defined his MVP-caliber seasons, writes Tommy Beer of

With Harden set to turn 33 this summer, giving him a long-term, maximum-salary contract could cripple the Sixers and would be borderline “organizational malpractice,” Beer argues. Still, Philadelphia can’t afford to let him walk, since doing so wouldn’t actually open up any meaningful cap room and the team is under pressure to maximize Joel Embiid‘s prime.

As Beer outlines, it will be fascinating to see how those contract discussions play out this offseason, since both sides have some leverage concerns. The Sixers can’t afford to lose Harden, but it will be difficult for the former MVP to play hardball in negotiations, considering none of the teams projected to have cap room are expected to seriously pursue him.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has made it clear that the plan is for Doc Rivers to remain the head coach going forward, prompting Kyle Neubeck of to consider whether that decision is the right one for the franchise.
  • Former Knicks center Eddy Curry has confidence in the abilities of executives Leon Rose and William Wesley to turn things around in New York, writes Ian Begley of Curry said Knicks fans shouldn’t focus on Rose’s lack of public statements and press conferences, since it’s “not his personality” to be in the public eye. “Regardless of how often you see him, you better believe he’s making things happen behind closed doors,” said Curry, who worked with Rose and Wesley during his playing career.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic wonders if Raptors point guard Malachi Flynn could benefit from a change of scenery and identifies some other players in a similar boat whom Toronto could target in a potential Flynn trade, including Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford, and Udoka Azubuike.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a series of Celtics notes earlier today.

Raptors Notes: Barnes, VanVleet, Anunoby, Flynn, Siakam

Rookie Scottie Barnes may be the fulcrum on which the Raptors‘ future balances, according to Michael Grange of Sportnet. Barnes was stellar during the team’s current five-game winning streak, with all the victories coming on the road.

Barnes is an extremely versatile player who epitomizes the positionless nature of the modern NBA. With long arms and a relentless motor, the 20-year-old has an uncanny knack for the ball.

If you’re a guy who has a nose for the basketball that means usually you have good anticipation about what’s coming ahead of time, before it happens,” head coach Nick Nurse said of Barnes. “Guys that seem to end up where the ball ends up, that takes, I think, an anticipation or a thinking ahead or just playing a lot. I know he’s 20 but we’ve talked about all the stories of they could never get him out of the gym, he was always playing pickup in multiple age groups … he’s played a lot I think to acquire that sense.”

Barnes is one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year; through 61 games (35.6 MPG), all starts, he’s averaging 15.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.2 SPG and 0.8 BPG on .490/.316/.732 shooting.

At 39-30, Toronto currently has the same record as Cleveland, but the Cavs hold the tiebreaker for the sixth seed in the East.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Fred VanVleet‘s maturity makes him the emotional leader of the Raptors, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “Obviously me being the leader and the point guard out there, it’s my job to be the calming presence. Sometimes I do a good job of that, sometimes I don’t. But for the most part, I’m glad with his team’s disposition and whether things are good or bad or up or down, we’ve done a great job of sticking together,” VanVleet said. “I think it just speaks to our chemistry. … We’re (able to have) honest, open communication. And that helps a lot. There are a lot of runs in a game and different things throughout the season, and you got to be able to just stay even-keeled throughout.” The first-time All-Star and 2019 NBA champion has been struggling with a knee injury, but he’s still serving as a mentor and leader for the young Toronto squad, as Koreen details.
  • OG Anunoby will miss at least one more week due to his fractured right ring finger, which still isn’t fully healed, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. He’ll be reevaluated again next week.
  • Malachi Flynn had a small tear in his left hamstring, per Lewenberg (Twitter link). Flynn suffered the injury two weeks ago and was ruled out indefinitely, but the hamstring is almost healed and Nurse says Flynn might be back in about a week.
  • Count Lakers head coach Frank Vogel as an admirer of Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, as Grange relays (via Twitter). “He’s one of the best players in the league in my opinion,” Vogel said of Siakam. The 27-year-old is having an outstanding season, averaging 22.0 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 5.1 APG, and 1.3 SPG on .486/.358/.744 shooting through 56 games (37.6 MPG) this season.