RJ Barrett

Injury Notes: Leonard, Barrett, Quickley, Mitchell, Ingram

Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard will miss the team’s game on Tuesday against the Kings due to right knee soreness, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.

Leonard, who played 37 minutes and scored 23 points against the Hornets on Sunday, returned to Los Angeles on Monday for treatment. His status for Thursday’s game against the Nuggets is uncertain.

The fact that Leonard’s flared up is a troubling development for the Clippers, who are pointing toward to a deep playoff run. Leonard has appeared in 68 games this season, his most since the 2016/17 campaign. Norman Powell will move into the starting lineup in his place, Youngmisuk tweets.

We have more injury-related news to pass along:

  • RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley are active for the Raptors’ game against the Lakers tonight, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Barrett hasn’t played since March 11 due to personal reasons and re-conditioning. Quickley has been out since March 17 for the same reasons.
  • The Cavaliers’ Donovan Mitchell, who has been battling a sore left knee, will miss Tuesday’s game against Utah, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes. It’s the first game of a back-to-back, with Cleveland facing Phoenix on Wednesday. Mitchell has appeared in 51 games this season and is ineligible for postseason awards.
  • There’s optimism that Brandon Ingram will be back in action for the Pelicans next week, The Athletic’s said Shams Charania during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run It Back program (video link). “Brandon Ingram is going to be reevaluated at the end of the week, that’ll be the two-week mark, and the hope is by that three-week mark next week, he’s going to be back in the lineup,” Charania said. Ingram is working his way back from a left knee bone contusion.

Raptors Notes: Porter, Agbaji, Size, March, Barrett

Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. defended his brother — Raptors forward Jontay Porter — who is at the center of an NBA investigation regarding betting irregularities, according to ESPN. The elder Porter said his younger brother Jontay wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize his NBA career.

The investigation is the result of prop bets involving Jontay on Jan. 26 and March 20, games in which he exited early and his unders were described by DraftKings as the No. 1 money-making bet in each of those games. Jontay hasn’t publicly addressed the situation and has missed the past three games for personal reasons. He’s averaging 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 26 games (five starts) on a two-way deal with the Raptors this season.

Michael Porter Jr. said he had no more details than the media did but that he vouched for Jontay, who has been more than happy to be in Toronto on a two-way deal this season.

Jontay loves the game of basketball… I’ve known my brother my whole life. I know what type of dude he is and I know he’s excited to play basketball, and I highly doubt he would do anything to put that in jeopardy,” said Michael, who also discussed how betting affects players, including how they receive backlash if they don’t play up to the bettors’ standards.

So, it’s a part of the game now. I think that it’s obviously a dangerous habit. It’s a dangerous vice for people,” he said. “You know, the love of money is the root of all evil. So, I think that even though it is a thing, we as players just have to accept that. We get paid a lot of money to play this game, and I know these people, these fans, they want to make some money, as well. It’s definitely something that has kind of taken over the sporting world — I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

We have more from the Raptors:

  • Ochai Agbaji had a scary fall on Wednesday against the Knicks, landing hard on his back and being down for several minutes before being helped to the locker room, The New York Post’s Peter Botte observes. Agbaji did not return with a right hip contusion. After the game, head coach Darko Rajakovic said Agbaji got X-rays but they didn’t show any signs of a fracture. “For a second it was really scary because he couldn’t move at all,” Rajakovic said. Agbaji won’t play on Sunday, according to The Athletic’s Eric Koreen (Twitter link), but he’s all good and seems to mainly just be sore.
  • After trading away OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa, the Raptors are lacking in size, Sportsnet.ca’s Michael Grange writes. Jakob Poeltl, Chris Boucher and Scottie Barnes, as well as Agbaji and Porter, are out. That left the Raptors with just Kelly Olynyk, Jalen McDaniels and Jordan Nwora as the only players on the standard roster available on Wednesday who were 6’8″ or above — 6’9″ two-way forward Mouhamadou Gueye was available as well.
  • The Raptors are heading into their final game of March at 1-13 in the month, with the sole win coming in a five-point home win over the 18-55 Hornets. This month has also featured losses to the 14-60 Wizards and 13-61 Pistons, as well as the franchise’s record for biggest home loss set two different times (41 points on March 5 against the Pelicans and 44 points on Wednesday against New York). As Koreen writes, the Raptors were on pace for 31 wins at the time of Barnes’ injury and they’ve been without their four most important players. Koreen opines that even though this month has been abysmal, it shouldn’t make fans doubt the Anunoby or Pascal Siakam trades, noting that the Raptors at least have a direction after three straight middling seasons.
  • RJ Barrett had his first media session on Friday following the tragic passing of his brother. “Basketball is my sanctuary, so this actually brings me peace,” Barrett said. “It helps me every day to be here, and also just be on a schedule and just be around the guys. Hanging out with your teammates… they’re funny, you get to hang out with them, you get to go practice and even support the guys when I’m not playing. Whatever it is, just being around has been helping a lot.” The Raptors organization and his teammates have tried to support Barrett and were all on hand for the funeral last week in Ontario, according to Grange.

Raptors Notes: Porter, Quickley, Barrett, Barnes, Poeltl

In the wake of news that Jontay Porter is being investigated by the NBA following multiple instances of betting irregularities, his Raptors teammates discussed the issue with reporters in general terms on Monday night, with Garrett Temple (an NBPA vice president) stressing that nothing has been proven yet, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.

While Raptors players weren’t willing to speculate or go into much detail about Porter’s situation specifically, they spoke about the impact that the increasing popularity – and legality – of sports betting has had on them. Forward Jordan Nwora said that “people bet on silly things on a daily basis” and that players hear about it “non-stop” when they don’t reach certain benchmarks.

“(Hearing from fans) has been a part of it for probably the past two or three years,” Raptors wing Ochai Agbaji added. “And fans, you know, slamming you for not hitting their bet, that’s an every night thing for every single one of us in this locker room.”

The widespread legalization of sports betting is a fairly recent development, which the NBA and other major sports leagues are still learning how to navigate. Temple acknowledged the venue that gambling brings in is significant, while also pointing out that it’s a bit “awkward” to have major betting outlets serving as NBA sponsors.

“You watch a game, and you may see FanDuel or DraftKings as a big-time sponsor for a team, but obviously it’s illegal for us to (bet on) any type of professional basketball … we understand that,” Temple said. “Sports betting has always been around, it just obviously is even more available. But as players, you don’t really think about it. As a veteran, I don’t really think about it as much because (not betting on basketball) has always been a rule. It’s not as if a rule change happened. So it is awkward but at the same time, like I say, we understand what we’re getting ourselves into.”

Here’s more on Porter and the Raptors:

  • DraftKings wasn’t the only sportsbook to get significant action on Porter prop bets on the dates the NBA is looking into, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and David Purdum (Twitter link). A source tells ESPN that multiple bettors attempted to wager significant amounts (“upwards of $10-20K”) on Porter unders for that January 26 game that the forward left early due to what the team said was an aggravation of his eye injury.
  • Adam Laskaris of Daily Hive takes a deep dive into Porter’s social media history, detailing how the Raptors forward maintained an account under the moniker “TayTrades11” to share financial advice and noting that he promoted a college basketball parlay bet at least once. There’s no indication that any of that activity was illegal or prohibited by league rules, but I imagine the NBA will take a close look at the account as part of its probe.
  • Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett, who have both been away from the Raptors for personal reasons, participated in Tuesday’s practice and are considered day-to-day, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. However, both players will remain sidelined for Wednesday’s game vs. their former Knicks team as they ramp up their conditioning, per Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link).
  • Scottie Barnes and Jakob Poeltl, who are both recovering from hand surgeries, are doing a bit of light on-court work but haven’t been cleared for contact, Lewenberg adds, tweeting that it’s still up in the air whether either player will return this season.
  • With the Raptors dealing with a series of injuries on the court and various challenges off of it – including the investigation into Porter and the recent death of Barrett’s brother – Kelly Olynyk looked to find a silver lining in what has been a “really tough” stretch. “A lot of guys are getting opportunities here that they may not have gotten (elsewhere),” Olynyk said (Twitter link via Lewenberg). “I hope that they’re seizing those opportunities and taking advantage of them to the best of their abilities, and hopefully they can parlay it into something for them that maybe they wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to do (elsewhere).”

International Notes: All-Star Game, Embiid, Wembanyama, Canada

In an appearance with Gayle King and Charles Barkley on CNN (video link), Commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA will consider a U.S. vs. international format to revamp the All-Star Game. It’s one of several ideas that were brought up after last month’s All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, which concluded with the East defeating the West 211-186 in a contest that was low on competitiveness and defensive effort.

Silver called it “a great weekend, but it was not a basketball game,” and said changes to the format are being studied.

“I think maybe as opposed to trying to create a super competitive basketball game, which I am not sure the teams or the players really want, we should do different things and make it a celebration of basketball,” Silver said. “… “We are going to look at U.S. vs. international. I just think maybe we are past that point where we are going to play a truly competitive game.” 

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Joel Embiid opted to join Team USA in the Summer Olympics, assuming he’s healthy enough, but French basketball officials say they had serious discussions with the Sixers center before the decision was made, per Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Jean-Pierre Siutat, president of French basketball, and former NBA player Boris Diaw, general manager of the French men’s team, contend they had two meetings with Embiid regarding the possibility that he might play for France. “He said, yes, I want to (play), make the (passport),” Siutat said. “So I make the job, with the help of the government, to get a passport for him and for his son. And all the time, he said, ‘I want to play for the national team of France.’” Embiid disputes that version of events through a spokesman, claiming he never asked for a passport, Vardon adds.
  • Victor Wembanyama is setting the bar high as he tries to win a gold medal while playing at home in Paris, according to a Eurohoops story.  “Any other result than the first place would be a failure since we could have done better,” the Spurs rookie said. “You shouldn’t have any regrets, but it’s a very achievable goal”.
  • Canadian coach Jordi Fernandez is looking to fill out his Olympic roster around a core group consisting of Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderLuguentz DortRJ BarrettKelly OlynykNickeil Alexander-WalkerDwight Powell and Dillon Brooks, notes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Jamal Murray is expected to join them if health permits, and international star Melvin Ejim could get a spot as well. Koreen expects Canada to search around the NBA for the remainder of its 12-man roster.

Atlantic Notes: Melton, Embiid, C. Johnson, Barrett

Sixers guard De’Anthony Melton says a hit he took in a February 27 game against Boston caused his back to “finally [give] out,” writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Melton only appeared in two games from January 2 to February 22 after being diagnosed with a lumbar spine stress response. He played two full games after returning, but was knocked out of action in the first half against the Celtics.

On March 6, the Sixers announced that Melton had begun an “offloading” program to ease the stress on the back. According to Mizell, he was able to walk normally and sit in a chair during an annual chess event Friday at the team’s practice facility. Melton is scheduled to have his condition reevaluated in about a week.

“I think what I’m doing now is definitely going to help me with [the issue] not returning,” he said. “I think how I’m going about it, and the time I’m taking, I’ll be good.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers center Joel Embiid visited a doctor last week to have his progress checked in his recovery from meniscus surgery, tweets Derek Bodner of PHLY Sports. Coach Nick Nurse told reporters before tonight’s game that doctors are happy with the way Embiid is healing and he’s still expected to return before the end of the regular season.
  • Cameron Johnson may be in danger of becoming a bench player for the Nets after signing a four-year, $94.5MM extension last summer, notes Brian Lewis of The New York Post (subscription required). Johnson came off the bench again Wednesday as he returned to the lineup after missing three games with a right ankle sprain. He and Dorian Finney-Smith have split time at power forward this season, and Lewis expects interim coach Kevin Ollie to continue that pattern for the rest of the season. “Control what you can control,” Johnson said. “That’s what I always try to do, that’s what I pride myself on and just trying to contribute to the team in any way that I can. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me in my career, and it’s not any stranger than any other circumstances. But my job is to help this team win games, and that’s what I’m gonna do, whether I’m starting, coming off bench, playing 10 minutes or playing 40 minutes.”
  • The Raptors are expressing support for RJ Barrett while he’s away from the team mourning his brother’s death, per Eric Koreen of The Athletic. “RJ knows really well that we are here for him and that he can make a call and get anything that he needs,” coach Darko Rajaković said. “Sometimes it’s just a conversation. Sometimes it’s just getting in the gym and getting some shots and getting your thoughts off of it. (We’re) just making sure that everybody knows that we are here for (all the players), that we’re gonna help you in any way possible. The worst thing for anybody in that case is just to shut down and get in your own world. You’ve got to be able to ask for help and receive help and just have conversations.”

RJ Barrett Away From Raptors Due To Death Of Brother

RJ Barrett is presently away from the Raptors as he deals with the death of his younger brother, Nathan Tyler Barrett, Sportsnet’s Blake Murphy reports (Twitter link). He had been listed as out for Wednesday’s game against Detroit due to personal reasons.

It is with profound sadness and heavy hearts that we announce the loss of our beloved son and brother, Nathan Tyler Barrett, who passed away on Tuesday, March 12, surrounded by his family, church and friends,” a statement from the Barrett family reads. “While our family is devastated by this great loss, we will continue to cherish the memories and time spent together. Nathan was a God-fearing young man of strong character. He was thoughtful, kind, loving, compassionate, creative, admirable, and driven.

During this difficult time, our family would like to ask for privacy but greatly appreciates the outpouring of love, support, and prayers that we have been receiving. Though his time with us was brief, he will live forever in our hearts.

RJ Barrett, who was traded from New York to Toronto in the OG Anunoby deal in December, has played very well for his hometown team, averaging 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in 33.7 minutes per game across 27 appearances, with a shooting line of .553/.417/.592. It’s unclear how long he might be away from the Raptors.

Our best wishes and condolences go out to the Barrett family.

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 Sportsnet.ca. 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.

Atlantic Notes: Hartenstein, Raptors, Springer, Muscala

Isaiah Hartenstein earned some extra money on top of his base salary on Thursday. The Knicks center surpassed 1,350 minutes this season, which triggered a $350K bonus, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

The bonus had been deemed likely and was included in his cap hit for 2023/24 since the Knicks big man met the same minutes benchmark in ’22/23. Hartenstein has a base salary of approximately $8.2MM, along with $1.05MM in likely bonuses.

The Knicks hold Early Bird rights on Hartenstein, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. New York can offer him a multiyear contract with a starting salary of up to $16MM.

We have from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors can feel cautiously optimistic about their lineup, The Athletic’s Eric Koreen opines, since Immanuel Quickley, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent Jr., RJ Barrett and Jakob Poeltl are playing well together. The only hitch is that Trent will be an unrestricted free agent, though Gradey Dick might be ready to take that spot. They could also use a defensive specialist on the wing, Koreen adds.
  • Jaden Springer didn’t anticipate getting traded at this stage of his career, he admitted to Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was dealt from the Sixers to the Celtics earlier this month. “I wasn’t expecting that,” the 2021 first rounder said. “But I [didn’t] really think about it too much. It happened, and I was OK with moving on to the next thing. I’m here [in Boston] now, and that’s what I’m really focused on.” Sixers exec Daryl Morey didn’t view Springer as a rotation player in the postseason for the next few seasons, Mizell explains, which is why he was shipped out for an asset — a 2024 second-rounder — that could potentially be flipped for a veteran role player.
  • The Celtics are eligible to sign Mike Muscala but it doesn’t seem likely, Brian Robb of Masslive.com writes. Muscala was bought out by the Pistons this week after he was acquired in a trade with Washington in mid-January. However, teams like the Knicks and Sixers would appear to be better fits, given that Muscala could get immediate playing time in their frontcourts. Boston would not be able to offer him any regular minutes while the team is healthy, and the C’s added a big man at the trade deadline in Xavier Tillman.

Atlantic Notes: Ollie, Thomas, Beverley, Lowry, Raptors

Kevin Ollie will offer some strategic changes when he makes his debut as head coach of the Nets tonight in Toronto, but he’s focused mainly on bringing a new attitude to the team, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Ollie, who came to Brooklyn as an assistant at the start of the season, was promoted to the job on an interim basis after Jacque Vaughn was fired Monday.

“The biggest thing is playing for each other and making the right plays,” Ollie said. “Not being selfish, getting the ball to the guys that we need to get the ball to in their right spots where they can be very successful. Just playing the right way, and we need to do that more consistently. So that’s not a scheme change or anything, that’s just playing better basketball, doing simple better.”

Ollie is expected to emphasize better spacing on offense, Lewis adds. That has been a problem, especially in the limited time that Ben Simmons and Nic Claxton have been on the court together. Lewis notes that Brooklyn is minus-34 and is shooting just 42.6% as a team in the duo’s 69 total minutes this season.

“You have to be able to space, you have to be able to cut, you have to be able to play together. We have to get out and rebound and get stops so they can play with pace and play in transition offense,” Ollie said. “So all those things count. But when it gets bogged down in a half-court situation, we haven’t had that situation where one’s up, one’s down and how they play off each other is crucial. So that’s why it’s so good for practice time.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • With Ollie in charge of the Nets, Cam Thomas should get a fresh chance to prove that he’s worthy of a starting role, Lewis states in a separate story. The explosive guard is averaging 21.2 PPG, but Vaughn often limited his playing time due to concerns about defense and energy. Thomas thought the report of a coaching change was a prank when he read about it on the internet, and he didn’t believe the story until general manager Sean Marks confirmed it. “We didn’t get enough wins. … And [we were] dropping some games, not playing as hard,” Thomas said. “It’s on both parties, coaches, players, front office, everybody. Got to look at yourself in the mirror; so that’s just what we got to do.”
  • Patrick Beverley has been taking shots at his former team on his podcast since being traded to Milwaukee, but the Sixers are choosing to ignore them, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Coach Nick Nurse and Kyle Lowry, who’s taking over Beverley’s role in Philadelphia, have been among the targets. “I’m not a podcast watcher, but he’s a friend of mine and that’s his competitive nature,” Lowry said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against him, as always.”
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic looks at late-season storylines to watch for the Raptors, including whether tanking will be an option, the roles for RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, and which players will show that they should be re-signed this summer.

Raptors Notes: Young, Poeltl, Quickley, Barrett, Gasol

Filling in at small-ball center with Jakob Poeltl sidelined with a sprained ankle, Raptors forward Thaddeus Young had perhaps his best game of the 2023/24 season in Tuesday’s victory over his former team, the Bulls, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

At 35 years old and in his 17th NBA season, Young finished with 16 points (on 8-of-13 shooting), six rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes while battling traditional centers in Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond. Young had only made seven cameo appearances this season prior to Poeltl’s injury, but has appeared in 11 straight games since.

They’re two big guys who know how to rebound, very physical,” Young said of Vucevic and Drummond. “Takes a toll on you. But one thing I’m willing to do is fight with them and do the job that’s needed to be done. For me, it’s always about the battle. I enjoy the competition level. So for me, I’m willing to take whatever challenge there is, whether it’s me guarding guards, guarding my position or playing center.

I don’t pay too much attention to that. Yeah, I’m 35 years old. But that’s young in regular life. When you play over 1,000 basketball games, that’s old to everybody else. But I just continue to play and show that I can play at a high level. As long as I’m able to do that, I’ll continue to play.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Young has drawn praise from his head coach and teammates for his leadership, professionalism, diligent work ethic, and ability to produce when called upon, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic. The longtime veteran says his family has pushed him to play for a few more years, but he plans to discuss his future with them again when the time comes. Young is playing on expiring $8MM contract and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. “As the years go by, (TJ, Young’s oldest son) gets older (13), and I definitely want to start putting a lot of time and work into him, making sure that I give him the same opportunities I had,” Young said, per Koreen. “This is something I have to sit down with my family and talk about. They’ve been saying, ‘Go to Year 20. You can do it.’ Physically, yeah, I’m fine. Nothing’s wrong. I’m healthy, I can continue to go. But at that point, it’s just a matter of how much longer I want to play.”
  • Poeltl has missed the past 11 games with the ankle sprain, but Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca says the Austrian big man’s return is “likely imminent,” noting that the former No. 9 overall pick has been full speed in workouts for nearly a week. Poeltl has shown his value to Toronto in part because the team has struggled mightily without him — as Grange observes, the Raptors are just 2-9 without Poeltl this season.
  • In another story for The Athletic, Koreen writes that Poeltl’s injury has made it difficult for the new-look roster to jell. The Raptors want Immanuel Quickley, who has missed the past three games with a quad injury, to develop chemistry with Poeltl, but they’ve only played four games together thus far. Another new addition, RJ Barrett (knee swelling), has also missed the past two games. Poeltl and Quickley were full practice participants on Thursday, but Barrett did not do contact work (Twitter link via Koreen). The Raptors’ next game is Friday in Houston, and all three players are currently considered questionable, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca.
  • Marc Gasol officially retired on Wednesday, prompting Raptors vice chairman and president Masai Ujiri to release a statement regarding the longtime veteran center, who started for Toronto when the team won the championship in 2019. “Marc has a special place in the hearts and memories of Toronto and of Canada,” Ujiri said. “He’s a champion on the court, where his unbelievable vision and masterful defense were key parts of our run to the 2019 title. He’s a champion in life too, with important contributions to communities around the world through the Gasol Foundation. He’s a three-time All-Star, first team All-NBA, Defensive Player of the Year, two-time Olympic silver medalist and, I believe, undisputed winner of best performance in the history of championship parades. Marc, the Raptors honor your grit and grind and we send you and your family our thanks and our best, warmest wishes for a happy retirement.”