Scottie Barnes

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Warren, Mazzulla, Celtics’ Targets, Barnes

Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said Ben Simmons is “showing signs of progress” regarding his left knee soreness, according to Mark Sanchez of the New York Post. However, Simmons will miss his third consecutive game when the team faces Boston on Wednesday, ESPN’s Nick Friedell tweets. Forward T.J. Warren (left shin contusion) will also miss his third straight contest.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla, a little-known assistant when training camp approached, will now coach in the All-Star Game, the league’s PR department tweets. Boston’s interim head coach and his staff will coach Team Giannis, thanks to Boston’s Eastern Conference-leading record.
  • Could the Celtics target Mason Plumlee, P.J. Washington or even bring back Kelly Olynyk for a second stint? The Athletic’s Jay King examines some of the frontcourt trade options the franchise might explore.
  • While the Raptors may be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline, their star second-year forward Scottie Barnes — who isn’t going anywhere — continues to shine, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes. Warriors coach Steve Kerr compare Barnes to Draymond Green. “Guys like that have a feel for the game. They have a sense of what’s happening on the floor seemingly before the other nine people out there,” Kerr said. “That’s why I enjoy watching Barnes play. For a young guy, he has a great feel for the game.”

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:

Rookies:

Sophomores:

G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.

Raptors Notes: Anunoby, Wieskamp, VanVleet, Barnes

Raptors forward OG Anunoby exited Friday’s loss to Golden State early after sustaining a left wrist injury, according to Kayla Grey of TSN, who tweets that X-rays on Anunoby’s wrist were negative. While that’s good news, the 25-year-old is expected to undergo further testing and imaging on Saturday to determine the extent of the injury.

Teams around the NBA will be keeping a close eye on Anunoby’s diagnosis, since he’s considered a popular trade target. Prior to Friday’s game, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski stated during an appearance on NBA Today (video link) that there’s “great interest” in Anunoby across the league and confirmed that there’s a belief Toronto would be able to get up to three first-round picks in exchange for him.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Following the expiration of his second 10-day contract on Thursday night, Joe Wieskamp is no longer with the Raptors, as Josh Lewenberg of TSN tweets. That’s no surprise, since Toronto would have had to sign Wieskamp for the rest of the season in order to retain him. The team likely values the roster flexibility of having its 15th roster spot open as the trade deadline approaches.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype names five teams that would be good fits for point guard Fred VanVleet if the Raptors are willing to move him, exploring what packages from the Suns, Mavericks, Heat, Clippers, and Lakers might look like.
  • For what it’s worth, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports said in Friday’s episode of his Please Don’t Aggregate This podcast that he hasn’t heard anything about VanVleet requesting a trade or “pounding the table” to get out of Toronto (hat tip to HoopsHype).
  • Reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes has been likened to Warriors star Draymond Green due to his versatility, play-making, and defensive ability. Green certainly doesn’t mind the comparison, telling Eric Koreen of The Athletic on Friday that he loves Barnes’ game and his upside. “He could be a lot better than me,” Green said. “I saw a tweet the other day that said, ‘Scottie Barnes’ floor is Draymond Green. And that’s a damn good floor.’ And I believe that. He’s such a special talent.”

Raptors Notes: Trent Jr., Deadline Primer, Assets, Tiers

Shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. says he’s grateful for the opportunity to earn an expanded role with the Raptors, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Trent is averaging a career-high 18.5 points per night and boasts solid shooting splits (.438/.360/.831, including a .572 true shooting percentage).

It’s just a lot of things, factors of being consistent in the NBA,” Trent said. “It’s your role, your opportunity, your coach’s trust. Do they believe in you? Do they run plays for you? Do they put you in certain positions to succeed. Just different type of things. Coach (Nick) Nurse and his team has been there for me. They’ve helped me. Gave me a platform and opportunity of a lifetime.”

Multiple reports over the past month have indicated that Trent is likely to be on the trading block, primarily because he’s expected to turn down his $18.8MM player option for next season to become a free agent. The 24-year-old is aware of the rumors, but he’s no stranger to hearing his name pop up in trade speculation and plans to keep working hard.

I’ve been in trade rumors since I came into the league,” Trent said, per Hine. “With my contract and my situation, it’s almost complimentary to get off the books or to help a team or roster. But you can’t really focus on that. It is what it is. You continue to work. Somebody’s going to want you. Everybody is watching you, seeing how you work.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca recently released his in-depth trade deadline primer, including the team’s cap outlook for this season and beyond, player and non-player assets, and more. Murphy suggests the team might “prioritize young, rotation-ready players” rather than draft picks if they deal away Trent or Fred VanVleet, as that would allow Toronto to be more competitive next season.
  • Doug Smith of The Toronto Star spoke to multiple league sources who ranked the team’s most valuable player assets, in order of their value. OG Anunoby tops the list, followed by VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Trent. I can sort of see having Anunoby over Siakam because he makes about half as much money and theoretically might be an easier fit on most teams, but having VanVleet over Siakam is…interesting. I assume Scottie Barnes isn’t included because he isn’t expected to be available.
  • Along those same lines, Eric Koreen of The Athletic breaks the players down into tiers, with Barnes in his own “almost untouchable” category. Anunoby and Siakam are in the “we’d rather not, but give us your best offer and we’ll think about it” tier, while Koreen thinks one of Trent or VanVleet will probably get traded.
  • At 20-26 and 1.5 games back of the Bulls for the No. 10 seed and the final spot in the play-in tournament, the Raptors don’t have the luxury of resting their best players, argues Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. Nurse has been criticized at times for playing the starters heavy minutes, but Feschuk notes that group has been pretty healthy this season.
  • VanVleet is another player who hears the rumors swirling, Smith writes in another article for The Toronto Star. “The better you play and the better your team does, the lower the chance anybody getting shipped out of here,” VanVleet said. “If you (crap) the bed you set yourself up for anything to happen. So we’ve got to control the controllables.” As Smith notes, the Raptors have been wildly inconsistent this season, and have yet to “control the controllables,” as VanVleet put it, for a sustained period.

Eastern Notes: Barnes, Bol, Kispert, Tucker

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, last season’s Rookie of the Year, has sparked the team during its recent upswing, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes. Barnes has reached the 20-point mark in three of the last four games. Just as important, he’s been setting up his teammates. He had a combined 22 assists in those outings and is averaging 5.4 assists this month.

“He’s an offense creator and we need him to be that,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “That doesn’t mean shooting, that means creating shots for others and creating good movement for others.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Magic big man Bol Bol has returned to the rotation after being placed in the league’s health and safety protocols and sitting out five games, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel writes. “I’ve been feeling good so far,” said Bol, who played 18 minutes on Friday. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I feel pretty fine, honestly.”
  • Wizards forward Corey Kispert has made half of his 3-point attempts over the last seven games and that’s forcing opponents to make adjustments, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Knicks limited him to four long-range attempts on Friday because of extra defensive attention. “I feel great, the best I’ve felt in my career shooting the ball for sure. I’m really, really happy with where my jump shot is,” Kispert said.
  • P.J. Tucker was the Sixers’ biggest offseason acquisition via the free agent market but he’s often benched during the fourth quarter. Tucker admits that the criticism he’s taken has been difficult, considering his limited offensive role, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. “Can you imagine playing 30 minutes and taking one shot? Maybe not shooting at all? And still having to guard the best player and do all the dirty stuff?” Tucker said.

Raptors Notes: Trade Returns, Porter, Barnes, Achiuwa

If the Raptors become sellers at the trade deadline, what could they get in exchange for Fred VanVleet or Gary Trent Jr.? How about Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby? Eric Koreen comes up with hypothetical trades for all four players in a pair of articles for The Athletic, and his colleagues evaluate whether opposing teams would accept them.

Jovan Buha believes the Lakers would agree to a deal for VanVleet if the Raptors wanted Patrick Beverley, Kendrick Nunn, Max Christie and a 2027 first-round pick. As for the team’s All-NBA forward, Joe Vardon thinks the Grizzlies would package Tyus Jones, Danny Green, Jake LaRavia, Ziaire Williams, 2023, 2025 and 2027 first-round picks, a 2024 first-rounder (via Golden State), and a 2024 second-rounder (via Toronto) in exchange for Siakam.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • The Raptors’ current front office has generally drafted well, and they have done exceptionally well in trades, but they have not had success in free agency, and Otto Porter Jr. is the latest example of that, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Lewenberg points out that the Raptors have operated over the salary cap for several years, which limits their ability to sign pricier free agents, but the list of players the team has signed in the past several years is “uninspiring.” Porter is out for the season after undergoing foot surgery.
  • Scottie Barnes has had an inconsistent second season, but he’s played better of late, Lewenberg writes for TSN.ca. “He’s just settling in,” Siakam said after Thursday’s 124-114 win over Charlotte. “I see the confidence. He’s not forcing anything, he’s just playing basketball the way that he knows how to and it’s showing. I think that sometimes we get so caught up in the numbers and what people are expecting from [us]. You’ve just got to go out there and play, and I think he’s starting to understand that.” If Toronto is able to turn things around in the second half of the season, Barnes will likely be a big reason why, according to Lewenberg.
  • Precious Achiuwa missed a significant portion of the season with an ankle injury, but he’s helped stabilize the second unit since he returned to action, per Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. The third-year big man is still working on his conditioning, but head coach Nick Nurse praised his aggression on Thursday. “I really liked the way Precious took the ball to the basket,” Nurse said. “He didn’t get a ton out of it, but that will come. I mean, he got one (foul call), maybe. He got another one where he got clobbered but (didn’t get the call); I like it. If he keeps going in there, he’s going to get rewarded and get a dunk or get to the free-throw line a little bit. I like the aggressiveness.”

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Toppin, Sims, Durant, Harris, Harden

The Raptors aren’t shopping any of their core players but they’re willing to listen to any offers, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports writes.

Scottie Barnes remains the Raptors’ only untouchable, though a source told Lewenberg it would take a “king’s ransom” to trade either Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby. The rotation player most likely to be moved is Gary Trent Jr., since he could become a free agent this summer and his next multi-year contract could top $100MM.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks forward Obi Toppin returned to action on Monday night after missing a month due to a leg injury. Jericho Sims was the odd man out of the rotation, as he never left the bench, Greg Joyce of the New York Post notes. Sims has appeared in 32 of the team’s 41 games this season. Toppin only played eight minutes.
  • Even before knowing that Kevin Durant would be out for approximately a month, Nets forward Joe Harris said it would be a “massive blow” to the team if he missed significant time, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. “Obviously [it changes] a lot. He’s a focal point for us, offensively, defensively he’s been an elite rim protector this year. He guards the best players. [It would] be obviously a massive blow for us,” he said. “But at the same time, it presents opportunities for everybody else, and we have a lot of depth for reasons like this for everybody just to step up and collectively try and fill that void.”
  • Sixers guard James Harden admitted to Yahoo Sports’ Vince Goodwill that he misses the days when he was counted on to be the primary scorer and posted huge stats, but indicated that winning a championship is his top priority. “I would love that, but not as much — if that makes sense,” Harden said. “In Houston, I was doing that every single night. It was expected. It’s a lot of times I feel like I can have that same impact on games. But you see the bigger picture. I’m just focused on one thing, man. That’s all that matters.”

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Niang, Trent Jr., Barnes, Young

Sixers star center Joel Embiid is listed as questionable for Tuesday night’s home game against the Pistons, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Embiid has missed the past three games with a sore left foot, including Philadelphia’s road win over Detroit on Sunday. P.J. Tucker is probable with a sinus infection after missing Sunday’s game.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers forward Georges Niang hopes he’ll get an invitation to participate in the 3-point contest on All-Star weekend, according to Pompey. “The three-point contest, obviously, if you’re an NBA fan, you’ve paid attention to it and watched it,” Niang said. “If you ever get a chance to be a part of that, it would be an honor.” Niang is a career 40.7% 3-point shooter and has made 42% of his attempts this season.
  • It’s no lock that the Raptors will deal Gary Trent Jr. before the trade deadline, Sportsnet’s Michael Grange said on “The Raptors Show.” (video link). After a rough patch, Trent has averaged 25 points per game in his last seven contests. Trent came off the bench for a stretch during a shooting slump. “He’s earned a lot of respect for how he’s handled himself as a pro and you look at his profile, his age, those guys are hard to find,” Grange said. However, Toronto will explore all options. “I don’t think it’s a certainty they’ll trade him. but I think it’s a certainty they’ll listen,” Grange added. Trent has an $18.56MM player option for next season.
  • Scottie Barnes and Thaddeus Young exchanged words during halftime of the Raptors’ game against Portland. They downplayed the incident, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. “It was just a little disagreement. It was nothing serious,” Barnes said. “You have some disagreements but it was nothing serious.” Young said, “We just had a disagreement. No different than brothers going back and forth, especially when we’re both passionate about the game.” (Twitter link).

Eastern Notes: Butler, Barnes, Harris, Simmons

Jimmy Butler has dealt with a variety of injuries this season. The Heat forward is frustrated that he can’t consistently stay on the court, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.

“You know what I’m saying, it’s tough whenever I’m in and out of the lineup so much,” Butler said. “I don’t choose to do that, obviously. But at this point, it’s frustrating. I can only imagine how my teammates feel, how my coaches feel, (Heat president) Pat (Riley) and them feel. But I want to be out there, honestly, because I think that I can help.”

The Heat are listing Butler as questionable to play against Minnesota on Monday due to a right ankle sprain, the team tweets. He has missed 12 games so far this season.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Scottie Barnes has not progressed from his strong rookie campaign and the Raptors forward will need to work harder on his game next offseason, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. His statistics haven’t improved and he’s not having the same impact on the game as last season, in part due to a lack of enthusiasm. Barnes has the talent but may have been guilty of resting on his laurels, Smith writes.
  • Nets forward Joe Harris won’t play against Cleveland on Monday due to left knee soreness, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. Harris also missed Friday’s victory over Milwaukee.
  • Ben Simmons has sparked the Nets’ defense during their current eight-game winning streak, including a workmanlike performance against Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ethan Sears of the New York Post notes. Milwaukee’s franchise player committed seven turnovers with Simmons as the primary defender. “Giannis is the most physical guy in the league, so there’s going to be some questionable (foul calls) there,” Kevin Durant said. “I think he stayed with it all game. Made life tough and I think we all did a solid job of showing him a crowd a little bit, making him kick out and forcing him to turn the ball over. Seven turnovers, so Ben was the catalyst for that.”

Raptors Notes: Trade Deadline, Siakam, Ujiri, Tanking

The Raptors have received phone calls about their core players, multiple sources tell Josh Lewenberg of TSN. And while the front office has been listening to all the trade offers, no deals are close right now.

Rival teams are paying close attention to Toronto, which had lost six straight games before winning in New York tonight. Lewenberg considers everyone except Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes to be available, although it would take a significant offer to land some of the other players. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are both All-Stars who are still in their prime, Lewenberg points out, while OG Anunoby is even younger and has become an accomplished two-way player.

Even if the Raptors decide to become sellers, Lewenberg doesn’t expect them to bottom out completely. He notes that the organization has worked hard to build a winning culture and isn’t likely to jeopardize that for a small chance to get one of the top picks in the lottery.

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Siakam, who scored 52 points tonight against the Knicks, may be the only thing preventing Toronto from being a definite lottery team, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Koreen considers a Siakam deal to be a sign that the Raptors are “blowing it up,” while a trade of VanVleet or Anunoby wouldn’t be on that level. Siakam understands that the best way to quiet the trade talk is to start winning. “At the end of the day, I don’t care about the schemes or this or that,” he said after Monday’s game. “We’ve just got to win. That’s the only thing. I don’t know the difference compared to (past) groups. I just know this group right now, we’re struggling. It’s really bad. We have to get out of it.”
  • Team president Masai Ujiri has built a reputation for patience since he took over the Raptors, but that might be tested heading into this season’s trade deadline, suggests Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Grange points out that Ujiri had a two-year plan — last season and this one — to evaluate the players and decide who to build around.
  • Tanking should be on the table, argues Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star, because the Raptors don’t have enough talent on their roster to rise above the middle in the East. The primary need, according to Feschuk, is to find someone who can penetrate into the paint and either score or create an open shot for a teammate.