Pascal Siakam

Pacific Notes: Leonard, George, Allen, Warriors

Clippers coach Tyronn Lue has decided on his fifth starter if Kawhi Leonard isn’t available for Sunday’s series opener against Dallas, according to Janis Carr of The Orange County Register. Lue didn’t reveal the name, but Carr speculates it will be Amir Coffey, who started 13 games this season, often as Leonard’s replacement.

Leonard is still officially listed as questionable with inflammation in his right knee that has sidelined him since March 31. He was expected to take part in shooting drills at today’s practice with more movement than he did on Friday, but he still hasn’t participated in anything involving full contact since the knee began flaring up.

Lue said he’s not counting on any one player to slow down the high-powered Mavericks’ attack led by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

“It’s on all of us. It’s not just one player or two players, it’s all of us collectively doing our jobs and doing it the best we can do,” Lue said. “It’s not on one or two guys, it’s on everybody to produce, as well as me and the coaching staff.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Paul George believes bad injury luck has prevented the Clippers from reaching their potential in the playoffs, Carr adds. George is making his return to the postseason after missing last season’s series with Phoenix due to a sprained knee. “Injuries happen. That’s part of the game (and there’s) no way of really avoiding it,” he said. “So, as much as chemistry and being on the floor together and playing the best basketball you could possibly play at this point of the season, a lot of it has to do with luck, too.”
  • X-rays were negative for Suns guard Grayson Allen, who left today’s game with an ankle injury, tweets Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. Coach Frank Vogel told reporters that Allen has been diagnosed with a sprain. His availability for Tuesday’s Game 2 will depend on how he responds to treatment.
  • The Warriors will need to be aggressive on the trade market to have another chance at a title during the Stephen Curry era, writes Ron Kroichick of The San Francisco Chronicle. Kroichick suggests making a run at Karl-Anthony Towns if the Timberwolves are knocked out of the playoffs early or possibly Dejounte Murray if the Hawks decide to break up their backcourt. He lists Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant, Pacers forward Pascal Siakam and Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram as others who might be obtainable.

Central Notes: Dosunmu, White, Siakam, Middleton

Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu erupted for 34 points and nine assists against Washington on Saturday, as he continues to raise his potential ceiling of what he can do in his career, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago writes. Dosunmu, a third-year guard, is in the first season of a three-year, $21MM contract.

“I always try to be in attack mode,” he said after the Bulls’ 29-point victory. “That’s the growth in my game. Not playing timid, always attacking, whether it’s attacking and keeping my dribble and kicking it out or attacking to score or attacking to get Vooch a shot. I think the most dangerous player to guard is someone who is always in attack mode.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Dosunmu got extended playing time with Coby White sidelined. White missed his second straight game due to a hip injury but Bulls coach Billy Donovan expects to get his starting point guard back later this week, Johnson tweets. Chicago plays Houston on Thursday and Boston on Saturday.
  • Pascal Siakam delivered the type of performance on Saturday that the Pacers have been looking for since they acquired him from Toronto, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes. Siakam had 10 points in the second and fourth quarters of a victory over Brooklyn, finishing with 28 points and 11 rebounds. “He played a great overall game and defensively, he had his best game. It wasn’t even close,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “And this is what the top players have to do. These guys have to set the tone.”
  • Bucks forward Khris Middleton returned to action on Sunday after missing 16 games with an ankle injury. Middleton had 22 points and seven assists in Milwaukee’s 140-129 win over Phoenix. Giannis Antetokounmpo sat out the contest but coach Doc Rivers is looking forward to having his big three back on the court together. “I know having the other offensive guy really allows us to play both sides of the floor,” he said of Middleton. “I thought at times with Dame (Lillard) and Giannis, we got one-side oriented and didn’t move it. We’d swing it and it’d go back to the same side. With Khris on the other side at times, we can now develop going from a two-man game to a three-man game.”

Atlantic Notes: Brown, Raptors, Reed, Nurse, Maxey, Celtics

After missing four games with knee inflammation, Bruce Brown hopes to be able to play against his former team when the Raptors visit Denver tonight, writes Michael Grange of Brown, who played an important role in the Nuggets’ title run last season, has been increasing his workload recently and hopes he’ll receive medical clearance to take the court.

This will be Brown’s second visit to Denver, which is rare for a player in the opposite conference. He picked up his championship ring on January 14 when he was still with the Pacers, three days before being shipped to Toronto in the Pascal Siakam trade.

I always looking forward to coming back here,” Brown said. “Great fans, great fan base, excited to see my previous teammates. It will be great to see everyone.”

Brown is officially questionable for Monday’s contest, while Immanuel Quickley (left hip flexor strain), Chris Boucher (right knee contusion) and Gary Trent Jr. (groin strain) are all out, according to Grange (Twitter links). RJ Barrett, who missed Saturday’s loss to Portland with an illness, is probable.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Sixers big man Paul Reed criticized the officiating following Friday’s loss to New Orleans, per Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports (Twitter video link). “Just knowing that the referees are going to be the referees, and we’re going to have to beat them too. So we got to already be expecting that,” Reed said. Philadelphia was victorious on Sunday vs. New York, with Reed recording 13 points, seven rebounds and four blocks. The team was plus-13 in his 28 minutes in the ugly 79-73 win.
  • While Reed lamented the officiating, head coach Nick Nurse was more unhappy with the Sixers‘ effort in the first half of Friday’s game, calling their offensive approach “soft,” writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (subscription required). “We tried to jump-shoot our way to a lead early, and you can’t count on that,” Nurse said. “ … That’s not good enough. You’ve got to play tougher than that. You’ve got to put your nose in there and drive it in the paint and try to get to the foul line and draw some defense and kick it out to somebody who’s open.” Nurse also said he’s still evaluating the make-shift rotation following a number of injuries, most notably to reigning MVP Joel Embiid.
  • Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has missed the past four games while in the NBA’s concussion protocol, but he has been cleared to return on Tuesday against the Knicks, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The first-time All-Star is set to hit restricted free agency this summer and will likely command a massive payday.
  • The Celtics‘ entire starting lineup is on the injury report for tonight’s game in Portland, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Jaylen Brown (sacroiliac strain), Jrue Holiday (left knee tendinopathy), Jayson Tatum (right ankle impingement) and Derrick White (left hand sprain) are questionable, while Kristaps Porzingis will miss his second straight game with right hamstring tightness.
    [Update: Brown, Tatum and White are active, but Holiday will be out, Smith tweets.]
  • Heading into Saturday’s contest vs. Phoenix, the Celtics had dropped two straight games for only the second time during the 2023/24 season. They responded with a victory they badly wanted, as Jay King of The Athletic writes. “Just not letting it snowball effect, right,” said Tatum, who specifically asked to play the entire second half. “We’re not perfect. We try to be. We really do try. But we make mistakes and things like that. This is a tough league. The other teams are really good, got great players. So it’s all about how you respond. If you want to be a special team, you have to do a really good job of responding. Especially winning on the road is tough, being away from home for 10, 12 days or whatever. So this is a great way to come out here and get a win against a team that’s been playing well lately.”

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Pacers Notes: Sheppard, McDermott, Nesmith, Walker, Haliburton, Siakam

An illness forced Ben Sheppard to remain in New Orleans after missing Friday’s game, and the Pacers aren’t sure if he’ll be ready for Sunday’s contest in San Antonio, according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Sheppard will also stay in New Orleans tonight, and the team won’t decide his availability for the matchup with the Spurs until Sunday morning.

“If he feels better in the morning, he may join us here,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “If not, he’ll meet us in Dallas (for a game Tuesday).”

The Pacers have already announced that they’ll be without Doug McDermott, who will miss his third straight game with a strained right calf. The game marks a homecoming for McDermott, who was acquired from San Antonio at the trade deadline.

“It’s going to be a few more games,” Carlisle said of McDermott’s status. “He’s not doing any activity other than rehab.”

There’s more on the Pacers:

  • Aaron Nesmith was able to return to the court Friday night after sitting out the previous four games with a sprained right ankle, Dopirak adds. The team’s starting small forward said he’s “never felt that sensation before” when he injured the ankle on February 14, but tests showed the damage wasn’t as serious as he feared it might be. “I put a lot of work in the last couple of weeks so wind-wise, I felt pretty good,” Nesmith said after posting nine points and three rebounds in 20 minutes. “I didn’t feel out of shape or out of breath. It took a second to get warmed up and catch up to the game and let the game come to me.”
  • A depleted bench and a lopsided loss provided extended playing time for rookie forward Jarace Walker, Dopirak adds in a separate story. The lottery pick logged nearly 27 minutes, and Dopirak notes that it’s the first time since January 21 that he has played more than seven minutes in an NBA game. “He’s got much more solid defensively,” Carlisle said. “In his last stint with the G League team, we asked him to concentrate more on rebounding. He did that. He had double figure rebounds in at least a couple of those games. I like his feel and his vision in playmaking, and there were a couple of times he got to the rim tonight and that’s another thing we’ve been talking to him about. He did many good things and he was ready.”
  • Earlier this week, Tyrese Haliburton talked about building chemistry with Pascal Siakam, who was acquired from Toronto in a mid-January trade (YouTube link).

Warriors Notes: Kuminga, Thompson, Jackson-Davis, Quinones

In an in-depth story for, Baxter Holmes looks back at the Warriors‘ efforts to keep their dynasty window open for the past several years, exploring the team’s hits and misses during that time and revisiting the oft-discussed “two timeline” plan.

As Holmes details, Golden State’s philosophy in the draft appeared to shift during those years. The Warriors took home-run swings in 2020 and 2021, drafting relatively raw talents like James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody in the hopes that those prospects would develop into the kinds of stars who could help the team continue to contend for championships after Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green exited their primes.

However, that approach had changed by 2023, when the Warriors drafted Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis, two more seasoned college players who were better positioned to complement the current core and contribute right away.

“You can’t hit on everybody,” Warriors owner Joe Lacob said. “We’ve got Kuminga, who’s exploding, and a bunch of other young guys who, I don’t know if they’re going to be stars, but they’re pretty good. “I think we should be able to avoid that total rebuild.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Kuminga’s breakout couldn’t have come at a better time for the Warriors, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who hears from sources that the team considered trade scenarios involving Pascal Siakam and Dejounte Murray earlier this season. Golden State ended up not making any major in-season deals, but appears to have found its newest impact player internally, with Kuminga averaging 21.1 points per game on .571/.432/.769 shooting over his past 17 games.
  • The Lakers and Warriors currently rank ninth and 10th in the Western Conference and haven’t played much better than .500 basketball since their most recent championships, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. While the two Pacific rivals still have title aspirations this season, Windhorst interprets Golden State’s pre-deadline inquiry about a LeBron James trade as a signal that the Warriors aren’t confident they have enough for another championship run — and as a sign they suspect LeBron may have the same apprehensions about the Lakers’ title potential.
  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic explores how the growing chemistry between Thompson and Jackson-Davis in the second unit helped fuel a victory over the Lakers on Thursday. Thompson went just 1-of-9 from the field in his second game off the bench, but he had five assists, including four on baskets by Jackson-Davis.
  • Lester Quinones‘ new deal with the Warriors is simply a rest-of-season, minimum-salary contract, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Unlike most other teams that have been promoting two-way players to their standard rosters, Golden State wasn’t in position to offer Quinones multiple years or a salary above the minimum due to its cap situation. Quinones will be eligible for restricted free agency this offseason.

Pacers Notes: Siakam, Raptors, Haliburton, Meeting, McDermott

Pascal Siakam made an emotional return to Toronto on Wednesday evening, including converting a bank shot that sealed the Pacers‘ victory with 25 seconds remaining, per Josh Lewenberg of

I tried to stay focused on the game as much as I could, but it [was] just hard, just coming in here and seeing so many familiar faces and reflecting on everything,” Siakam said. “Coming back here after eight years, just to see the reception and people being so genuinely happy for me, I think for me that was the most important thing. … I couldn’t really ever dream of that. It means a lot, so I appreciate everyone for everything. I’m humbled.”

As Lewenberg writes, Siakam seems truly happy to be playing for Indiana, which is a contrast to the “unfortunate end” of his tenure with the Raptors, who traded him to the Pacers last month.

It feels amazing,” Siakam said before the game. “[From the moment I got to Indiana] it’s just been so much love, so much appreciation and just like overly supportive in everything. It feels good to be in a place like that. I’m just looking forward to continuing to be there and just have an opportunity to do something special with that team.”

A source tells Lewenberg the Raptors reached out to Siakam’s camp to see if he’d be interested in a three-year, maximum-salary extension before the 2023/24 season began, though Lewenberg cautions that the offer was “informal, at best.” Siakam, meanwhile, wanted a fourth year added, and talks broke down after that.

Lewenberg believes the Raptors took Siakam for granted, but the two-time All-NBA member is “excited to have the opportunity” to play for the Pacers. The 29-year-old is set to hit free agency this summer and is widely expected to sign a long-term deal with Indiana, which holds his Bird rights.

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • Speaking to JJ Redick on his Old Man and the Three podcast (Twitter link), All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton admitted he might’ve taken another game or two off following his hamstring injury if he didn’t have significant financial considerations at stake. Haliburton’s rookie scale extension features Rose rule language, which means he’s eligible to make 30% of next season’s salary cap instead of 25% if he makes an All-NBA team. However, he needs to play at least 65 games to qualify for major postseason awards due to a rule change in the new CBA.
  • Indiana held a brief players-only meeting following Monday’s loss to Charlotte, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. “Some things were addressed after the game,” center Myles Turner said. “We all got together and we spoke without the coaches and just talked it out and I think we’re headed in the right direction.” However, Turner was miffed by the team’s performance, starting with his own. “There’s no excuses, man,” Turner said. “This isn’t the first time this has happened this season. It starts with me as a leader of this team. Our defense just wasn’t there tonight. I wasn’t very good defensively tonight. I think as a whole going into All-Star break, these games matter. I don’t think we had the right mindset tonight.” As Dopirak notes, while the Pacers are currently 31-25, the No. 6 seed in the East, they have several losses to teams at the bottom of the standings, including the Hornets (twice) Trail Blazers (twice), Wizards, Grizzlies and Raptors.
  • Veteran sharpshooter Doug McDermott is “thrilled” to be back with the Pacers, who traded for him prior to last week’s deadline, according to Dopirak. “It feels good to be a part of winning basketball,” McDermott said. “I haven’t really been a part of that in a couple years. Just to be a part of the Pacer organization, I’m super excited but very thankful for my time in San Antonio. I’ve always felt like this place is home for me. It’s kind of the place where I revamped my career.” The Midwest native previously played three seasons with Indiana, from 2018-21.

Central Notes: Beverley, Lillard, Lowry, Duren, Siakam

The Bucks’ biggest trade deadline move was the acquisition of pesky guard Patrick Beverley from the Sixers. General manager Jon Horst said Beverley provides “point-of-attack defense and defensive versatility.”

“He’s proven to be able to guard multiple positions in his career. He is an impactful point-of-attack defender,” the Bucks GM said, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic. “He plays with a physicality and a toughness that we think will help us.”

Damian Lillard has had some tense moments with Beverley during his career but he’s glad to have him as a Bucks teammate, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report tweets. “He brings an edge and a defensive tenacity on the perimeter that we need,” Lillard said. “There are not many players who bring it on a nightly like him. I look forward to working together. Our past personal issues don’t trump an opportunity to win a championship.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bulls had some interest in signing Kyle Lowry after he was bought out by Charlotte, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports, but Lowry chose to sign with the Sixers. Chicago could still sign another player via the buyout market. ‘‘If there’s someone who has an interest or [the front office feels] like it would be a good fit, they’ll bring me in and we’d probably get on the phone with the player,’’ coach Billy Donovan said. ‘‘But as of right now, nothing has moved forward in terms of any plans.”
  • The Pistons are increasingly looking to take advantage of Jalen Duren‘s passing skills, James Edwards III of The Athletic writes. Duren had a six-assist game against Sacramento during their current West Coast road trip. “When we throw it into him, it’s an opportunity for everyone to be open,” guard Jaden Ivey said. “He looks for us out on the perimeter. He’s finding guys. If he doesn’t have anything, he uses his strengths and abilities to put the ball in the basket.”
  • Pacers forward Pascal Siakam is still getting adjusted to playing with point guard Tyrese Haliburton. Siakam has been dazzled by Haliburton’s creativity, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. “I’ve just got to like always be ready and we’ve got to figure out rhythms. Him understanding my rhythms and me understanding also his rhythms,” Siakam said. “I definitely haven’t played with someone like him before, so I’m just learning on the fly and, and I think the more we’re out there we’ll get comfortable.”

Pacers Notes: Hield, McDermott, Siakam, Draft Picks

The Pacers looked “lifeless” during a 22-point home loss to Golden State on Thursday, according to Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. While it’s unlikely that Buddy Hield would have made up those 22 points and changed the outcome of Thursday’s game, the team seemed to be missing his “infectious spirit” hours after he was traded to Philadelphia, Dopirak observes.

“People just think about on the court,” Pacers center Myles Turner said in discussing Hield. “People don’t think about chemistry and energy and what he brings to our locker room, to our team. … His energy’s infectious. It’s something we’re definitely going to be missing. We gotta find a way to make it up somehow, someway. He’ll definitely be missed.”

The decision to trade the veteran sharpshooter to a conference rival was a bit of a curious one for a team that held the No. 6 seed in the East entering the deadline and was right on the heels of the No. 5 Sixers, Hield’s new team. However, Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star has heard that Hield, who was unable to come to terms on an extension with Indiana earlier in 2023/24, asked to be dealt.

Explaining the move in the wake of the trade deadline, Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan referred to it as a “tough” decision to move Hield, but strongly hinted that the team wasn’t confident about its ability to re-sign him beyond this season. He said he hopes the Pacers players understand that the move – which netted multiple second-round picks – can pay dividends in the long run.

“Our team has done a great job of putting us in position to be a contender for a playoff spot,” Buchanan said. “Today was one of those decisions that maybe feels like it wasn’t helping the team now, but we’re trying to look long term and I can’t emphasize that enough with this group.

“… Any time you acquire draft capital, that puts you in position to make moves down the road to improve your team. I think you saw a lot of moves (Thursday) that involved a lot of second-round picks. There were players obviously involved, but draft capital is a really important thing to building a team and we acquired a lot of that today that we think could be beneficial down the road to help build the team. We acquired a pick last year at the draft that helped us obtain Pascal (Siakam). Draft capital is very valuable currency in the transaction business in our league.”

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • The Pacers also acquired Doug McDermott in their three-team deal with Philadelphia and San Antonio. They began pursuing McDermott, another three-point specialist, after realizing they wouldn’t be keeping Hield, according to Buchanan. “We knew when there was a possibility we were losing the caliber of shooter we were losing in Buddy, your first instinct is, ‘Can you replace it?'” the GM said, per Dopirak. “There were candidates we looked at for that. Some were available, some were not. Doug is a guy who Rick (Carlisle) has coached before, we’ve obviously had him here as a Pacer before, but he’s never played with our group. He’s super-excited to come play with this group, the way we play, the way the ball moves, the pace we play at.”
  • The Pacers made their biggest in-season trade in January when they acquired Siakam from Toronto. As Dopirak relays, Buchanan also discussed that move this week, confirming that they view the forward as someone who will be with the team long-term: “That’s still the goal. He’s been a great fit so far. I think he’s happy so far.”
  • In a separate story for The Indianapolis Star, Dopirak takes a look at the impact Indiana’s deadline moves will have on the team going forward. As Dopirak points out, although the Pacers received three second-round picks for Hield, they used one to bring in McDermott and sold another second-rounder to Golden State for cash. That means, with Cory Joseph and Furkan Korkmaz already waived and McDermott unlikely to be re-signed, the only deadline asset the Pacers will be left with beyond this season is a single second-rounder.

Pacific Notes: Wiggins, Siakam, Green, Clippers, Durant

The Warriors have fielded player-for-player offers for forward Andrew Wiggins, sources told Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Though Wiggins is the Warriors player most likely to be moved before next month’s trade deadline, there hasn’t been an offer that has enticed them enough to make a deal. It’s key to note that they wouldn’t necessarily need to attach a draft pick to shed his contract, according to Slater. Wiggins is in the first season of a four-year, $109MM extension.

Golden State could go through the deadline without making a significant deal, despite its disappointing record. The internal expectations of making that kind of move have steadily decreased over the last month, Slater hears.

The Warriors remain in the buyers column, but they are reluctant to part with valuable pieces and don’t own their first-rounder this year. They are seeking a strong second option to pair with Stephen Curry but probably lack the assets to get that type of player.

They had exploratory conversations with the Raptors regarding Pascal Siakam before he was traded to Indiana. However, the Warriors’ most valued trade chip — Jonathan Kuminga — wouldn’t have been an ideal fit next to Raptors franchise player Scottie Barnes since their skill sets overlap.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Warriors forward Draymond Green said he harbors no resentment for being left off Team USA’s pool of players under consideration for this year’s Olympics, according to Michael Wagaman of NBC Sports Bay Area. “I would like to believe that there’s some guys in that pool that I’m just not as good as,” Green said. “Didn’t quite think it would be so many great players in the pool because it just hasn’t been [that way] over the last couple of Olympic cycles. Then you look up and all of a sudden the ‘who’s who’ is there. I’m no idiot. You go with the who’s who and you figure it out.” Green was part of the 2016 and 2021 Olympic gold medal teams.
  • On that same topic, the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and James Harden are on Team USA’s 41-player list and are legitimate candidates to make the 12-man Olympic roster, says Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Coach Tyronn Lue is an assistant on the USA coaching staff and he’d like to see at least one of them wind up on the 12-man roster. “Hopefully, it works out,” Lue said.
  • Suns star Kevin Durant says he’s looking forward to returning to Brooklyn for the first time since last season’s trade. Phoenix visits the Nets on Wedneday. “I’m excited,” Durant said. “It’s always fun playing in Brooklyn, it’s always fun playing in New York. Can’t wait to see some of the people that I worked with that I got to know over the last four years. New York City has become my favorite city in the world just from me living there for four years. I miss it a lot. I built a lot of bonds and relationships with the people that actually worked in the organization.”

Raptors Notes: Poeltl, Deadline Primer, Trade Tiers, Quickley

Raptors center Jakob Poeltl was able to go through portions of Wednesday’s practice but he still hasn’t been cleared for contact work, tweets Josh Lewenberg of Head coach Darko Rajakovic said Poeltl is working on his conditioning after being out since January 7 with a left ankle sprain, and the Austrian big man is considered day-to-day.

Toronto reacquired Poeltl last February, when the team sent out its 2024 first-round pick (top-six protected) to San Antonio. Poeltl, who has averaged 10.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 2.5 APG and 1.4 BPG in 36 games this season, re-signed with the Raptors on a four-year, $78MM deal last summer.

The roster looks a lot different now than it did last year, with veterans Fred VanVleet (signed with Houston in free agency), OG Anunoby (traded to New York) and Pascal Siakam (traded to Indiana) all on new teams. Poeltl said it was difficult to see Siakam go, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link).

“It was tough because he was the guy I was closest to on this team,” Poeltl said of Siakam. “… I guess I was mentally prepared for it a little bit already because there were so many rumors… but it’s still really sad for me to basically lose my best friend on the team.”

With Toronto now focused on developing its young players rather than competing for a playoff spot, Lewenberg asked Poeltl if the team’s change of direction made him question the decision to re-sign or ponder his future with the Raptors (Twitter link).

Not necessarily,” Poeltl said. “The only thing that was important to me is that I was on a team that could play competitive basketball. As long as it’s not a team that was really actively trying to tank, I guess, was the thing for me. Like, I want to play on a team that’s trying to win every night.

So, for me, even though had some changes and we lost some really good players, I think we’re still on a course where we’re trying to build around this team right now and were not hunting for a No. 1 draft pick, you know what I mean? So as long as that’s the case, I think I’m going to be happy here and I’m hoping to contribute to this new Raptors team, this new project that we’re starting.”

Here’s more on the Raptors, who are currently 16-28 after dropping seven of their past eight games:

  • On a related topic, Michael Grange of wonders if fans should be cheering for the Raptors to lose for the remainder of 2023/24 in order to keep their first-round pick. As previously mentioned, Toronto will only keep the pick if it lands in the top six of the upcoming draft; in that scenario, the Spurs would be owed the Raptors’ 2025 first-rounder, with the same top-six protection. On the other hand, Grange notes that the 2025 draft is viewed by scouts and executives as having more top-end talent compared to 2024; the No. 7 or No. 8 pick in ’25 could be end up being quite a bit more valuable than a top-six pick this year.
  • Blake Murphy of recently released a trade deadline primer that covers Toronto’s cap situation, draft assets, player assets, exceptions, restrictions (newly acquired players can’t be aggregated with other salaries), and more.
  • The only “untouchable” player on Toronto’s roster is Scottie Barnes, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who believes the third-year forward will sign a rookie scale max extension this summer. Koreen also thinks “it would be aggressively weird” if RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Gradey Dick, Jordan Nwora or Kira Lewis were traded. Veterans like Bruce Brown, Gary Trent Jr., Dennis Schröder, Chris Boucher and Poeltl fall into Koreen’s “Selling with hopes of a return” trade tier, though he doesn’t think Poeltl will actually be moved.
  • Starting guard Quickley has been ruled out for Friday’s contest with the Clippers due to a thigh bruise, Murphy tweets. Quickley, acquired from New York in the Anunoby deal, is averaging 16.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 6.1 APG through 12 games (31.8 MPG) as a Raptor. The 24-year-old will be traveling on the upcoming six-game road trip, per Doug Smith of The Toronto Star (Twitter link), which suggests it may be a short-term injury.