Serge Ibaka

Raptors Notes: Anunoby, Powell, Free Agents

While the Raptors‘ veteran free agents – Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka – will receive much of the attention this offseason, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star points out that the front office has key decisions to make on a couple other players who were part of the team’s top seven in 2019/20.

OG Anunoby will be eligible for a rookie scale contract extension this offseason, and while he earned an offer with his strong play in his third professional season, Smith anticipates the Raptors will wait until the forward reaches restricted free agency in 2021 in order to maintain cap flexibility.

Meanwhile, swingman Norman Powell is coming off the best season of his career and is entering a potential contract year (he has a player option for 2021/22), prompting Smith to suggest that the Raptors should think about gauging his value on the trade market.

As Smith writes, Powell is one of the team’s more intriguing chips and could be used to acquire a big man who would be a longer-term piece than Gasol or Ibaka. However, the Toronto Star scribe ultimately expects Powell to be back with the Raptors next season.

Here’s more out of Toronto:

  • Blake Murphy of The Athletic makes predictions for which Raptors are most and least likely to stick with the team through the offseason, speculating that Fred VanVleet (73.8%) is a better bet to return than Serge Ibaka (48.8%) or Marc Gasol (42.3%).
  • Elsewhere at The Athletic, Eric Koreen digs into whether re-signing VanVleet is essential for the Raptors’ future success. In Koreen’s view, it seems far more likely that the team will pay to retain the former undrafted free agent, rather than letting him walk and hoping its player development group can strike gold again on a long-term replacement.
  • In case you missed it, Nick Nurse‘s new contract extension with Toronto is reportedly worth about $8MM per year. That item and many others can be found on our Raptors team page.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Playoff Edition

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. With the playoffs ongoing at the Orlando campus, it’s time to examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors.

Daniel Theis, Celtics, 28, C (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $10MM deal in 2019

Heading into the playoffs, no one quite knew what the Celtics’ big man rotation would look like. There’s no doubt right now which center coach Brad Stevens trusts the most. Theis has played heavy minutes when he’s been able to stay out of foul trouble. He averaged 30.1 MPG in the seven-game series against the Raptors and was productive (10.1 PPG, 8.3 RPG) while keeping turnovers to a minimum (1.0). He’s averaged 33.5 MPG thus far against the Heat. Moreover, the Celtics’ staff trusts that Theis can switch onto a variety of players defensively. His $5MM salary for next season isn’t guaranteed but it’s hard to imagine Boston would let him go.

Marcus Morris, Clippers, 31, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $15MM deal in 2019

Morris had an interesting and controversial journey through free agency last summer. He reneged a two-year agreement with San Antonio and signed a one-year, $15MM pact with the Knicks. When the Clippers acquired Morris at the trade deadline, he was viewed as potentially the final piece to a championship puzzle. The Clippers crashed and burned in part because Morris was a non-factor as the series against the Nuggets wore on. In the last two games, Morris averaged 6.0 PPG and shot 3-for-14 from the field. He was better at being an irritant than a difference-maker. It will be interesting to see if his price tag drops this offseason.

Serge Ibaka, Raptors, 31, PF/C (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $65MM deal in 2017

Ibaka had a strong postseason run while coming off the bench. He averaged 14.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 1.3 BPG in 22.8 MPG while making 51.1% of his 3-point attempts. Ibaka turns 31 on Friday but he’ll receive his biggest birthday gift in the coming months when the Raptors or some other suitor hands him a lucrative deal. ESPN’s Bobby Marks believes he will get full $9.3MM mid-level exception offers from playoff teams without cap space but that Toronto may offer a one-year deal at $18MM to keep him and preserve cap space for next summer.

Monte Morris, Nuggets, 25, PG (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $4.66MM deal in 2018

When Malik Beasley was dealt to the Timberwolves in February, Morris became the clear-cut backup to Jamal Murray. He’s been a key piece off the bench during the Nuggets’ dream run to the Western Conference Finals. Morris averaged just 16.6 MPG against the Clippers but scored in double digits four times during the series. He’s also played smart and poised, making more steals (10) than turnovers (8) in 297 minutes during the first two playoff series. Morris has a $1.66MM non-guaranteed salary for next season. That seems like a very big bargain.

Meyers Leonard, Heat, 28, PF/C (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $41MM deal in 2016

The Heat have received significant contributions from a good chunk of their roster during their surprising carpet ride to the Eastern Conference Finals. Leonard hasn’t been among that group. Leonard, who made $11.3MM this season, was a starter until February when he suffered an ankle injury. He’s been relegated to cheerleading status during the restart, appearing in two seeding games and one postseason game. He was mainly a second-unit player in Portland before this season and he’ll have to compete for a rotation spot wherever he lands next season.

Raptors Notes: Ujiri, Webster, VanVleet, Ibaka, Gasol

The “strong rumble” in the Walt Disney World bubble was that the Raptors were nearing new long-term extensions for president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, general manager Bobby Webster, and head coach Nick Nurse, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).

Toronto announced a multiyear extension for Nurse earlier this week, but Ujiri told reporters today that he hasn’t engaged in contract discussions with Raptors ownership yet. As Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays (via Twitter), Ujiri said he wanted to prioritize new deals for his leadership team, including Nurse and Webster. He said an extension for Webster is “close,” per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link).

As for his own contract, Ujiri offered the following assessment, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link): I think it will come. When it comes we’ll deal with it face on. But as for now I’m focused on other things. When that time comes I will deal with it.”

Ujiri and Webster have one year remaining on their current contracts.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Re-signing unrestricted free agent Fred VanVleet will be a “big-time priority” for the Raptors this offseason, Ujiri said today (Twitter link via Murphy). He added that the club has a good sense of where its free agents still have room to grow or develop.
  • Ujiri also called free agent big men Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol priorities for the Raptors, though he acknowledged the challenges inherent in balancing the club’s short-term interests and long-term flexibility (Twitter link via Lewenberg). Toronto is expected to try to maximize its cap flexibility for the summer of 2021 as best it can.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic ranks the players on the Raptors’ roster by trade value, starting with Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby.
  • In case you missed it, we explained on Wednesday how Siakam’s All-NBA Second Team berth will affect the forward’s earnings going forward. Because Siakam’s extension will begin at 28% of the 2020/21 cap instead of 25%, the Raptors now project to have about $3.5MM less cap space during the summer of 2021, assuming the cap for ’20/21 stays the same as in ’19/20.

Raptors Notes: VanVleet, Gasol, Ibaka, Anunoby

Now that the offseason has arrived for the Raptors, their attention will turn to re-signing Fred VanVleet, who will be one of the top names on the free agent market, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. After making a name for himself by hitting big shots in last year’s playoffs, VanVleet became a full -time starter and turned in his best NBA season, averaging career highs with 17.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists per game.

At 26, the fourth-year guard will be part of the Raptors’ foundation if he stays in Toronto, and he said he had plenty of time to consider his situation while the league was on hiatus.

“Being at home for that long, it gives you a lot of time to reflect on things,” VanVleet said. “I’m sure — like all of us, everybody’s jobs were in jeopardy — I wasn’t sure what was going to happen with the league. I wasn’t sure about next year with the cap and what the numbers would look like, so it put a lot of things in perspective. It changed the way you would view everything and makes you appreciate things a lot more. … I’m not looking ahead, or I was never looking ahead all year. I was focused on trying to win a championship with this team. And we got the opportunity to come back here in the bubble and give ourselves a chance, and that’s all you can ask for.”

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Toronto faces difficult decisions on free agents Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Injuries limited Gasol to 44 games this year and he averaged a career-low 7.5 PPG. Gasol will turn 36 in January, but Marks expects him to have a future in the league, probably making $6-8MM less than his $25.5MM salary this season. Ibaka averaged a career-best 15.4 PPG and Marks believes he will get offers at the $9.3MM midlevel exception from playoff teams without cap space. He mentions the Mavericks and Trail Blazers as possibilities, but guesses that Toronto may offer a one-year deal at $18MM to keep Ibaka and preserve cap space for the summer of 2021.
  • Another important decision involves OG Anunoby, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension, Marks adds in the same story. Anunoby has a free-agent cap hold for 2021 of $11.7MM, and any extension above that number will eat into the team’s cap space next year. He will become a restricted free agent next summer if he’s not extended, and Marks points out that his value could be much higher by then.
  • Pascal Siakam never rediscovered his shot once the shutdown ended, which was a big factor in the series loss to Boston, notes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Siakam said he accepts “a lot of the blame” for the defeat, but Kyle Lowry had a prediction for his teammate. “I think this is only going to make him a better basketball player, a better man, a better everything,” Lowry said. “I would not be surprised to see him come back even more hungry and destroying people.”

Serge Ibaka Available For Raptors In Game 6

Raptors big man Serge Ibaka, who twisted his left ankle during the team’s Game 5 loss on Monday and was in a walking boot on Tuesday, will be available to play in Game 6 today against the Celtics, head coach Nick Nurse told reporters.

Ibaka, who had previously been listed as questionable, won’t have any minutes restriction, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

Losing Ibaka for Wednesday’s game would have been a major problem for the Raptors as they look to avoid elimination and force a seventh game. The veteran center has been one of the team’s most reliable offensive weapons in the series, as well as its top scorer off the bench.

In five games against Boston in the second round, Ibaka has averaged 11.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG, and 1.4 BPG on .512/.500/1.000 shooting in 23.2 minutes per contest.

If Toronto doesn’t win Game 6, it’s possible it will be Ibaka’s last game as a Raptor. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Atlantic Notes: Ibaka, Hayward, Ainge, Sixers

Raptors center Serge Ibaka twisted his left ankle during the second half of the team’s Game 5 loss on Monday, potentially jeopardizing his status for Game 6 on Wednesday. As Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweets, Ibaka was in a walking boot today and said that he “will see” about his availability for Wednesday’s game.

Toronto’s initial injury report for Game 6 lists Ibaka as questionable. With the Raptors’ season on the line, down 3-2 to Boston, the big man will presumably do all he can to suit up.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics forward Gordon Hayward is back on campus, but the team isn’t sure when he’ll clear quarantine and when he’ll be able to play, writes Tom Westerholm of MassLive.com. Meanwhile, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston wonders if the C’s will extend their season long enough for Hayward to contribute — Monday’s win certainly increased those odds.
  • Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, who has suffered multiple mild heart attacks in the past, was advised by doctors that he’d be “at risk” if he contracts COVID-19, he tells Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. As a result, Ainge didn’t accompany the C’s to the Orlando campus and has been watching the team’s playoff run from afar. “My doctors said it would be best if I did not go,” Ainge said. “But, as we’ve gone along — and I’ve thought about it since — I say to myself, ‘Man, it feels to me like the bubble is the healthiest place to be.'”
  • While Brett Brown, Elton Brand, and the Sixers‘ supporting cast have taken much of the blame for the team’s lack of playoff success in recent years, Sopan Deb of The New York Times notes that Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid haven’t necessarily shown the growth expected of “prospective superstars” and questions whether either player is still capable of taking his play to another level.

Atlantic Notes: Payne, Anunoby, Ibaka, Watson, Sixers

When the Knicks hired Kenny Payne away from Kentucky this week, it represented another instance of new executives Leon Rose and William Wesley bringing aboard someone with whom they have a preexisting relationship. However, Kentucky head coach John Calipari tells Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News that Payne was very capable of making the leap to the NBA with or without those connections.

“You got to understand, he’s been invited to four different NBA teams where they had their summer camp and did stuff and won there,” Calipari said of his longtime assistant. “And why do you think they’re bringing him there? Trying to feel him out. They want to see him teach, they want to see him interact. And those were some of the top franchises out there. I knew why they were doing it. And because we were paying him so much, none of them thought he would leave (Kentucky) to go to the Knicks. Now they’re pissed that they didn’t bring him in. …There were other franchises that would’ve (hired him).”

While Calipari may be right that other teams would have liked to hire Payne before New York did, it’s not clear whether those clubs would’ve been willing to pay the price necessary to bring him aboard. According to Bondy (Twitter link), Payne will earn over $1.5MM with the Knicks, making him one of the NBA’s highest-paid assistants.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Two of the Raptors‘ key rotation players, OG Anunoby (right knee soreness) and Serge Ibaka (right knee contusion), sat out again on Friday, but MRIs on their knees came back clean and head coach Nick Nurse believes both players will be ready to go when the playoffs begin on Monday, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link).
  • Raptors two-way player Paul Watson has had a chance to get some playing time in Orlando and took advantage in the team’s final seeding game on Friday, pouring in 22 points in 27 minutes and impressing Nurse.He’s pretty good. He can play,” Nurse said of Watson (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of The Athletic). “… He’s gonna be part of our future from what I can see so far.”
  • Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wonders if Ben Simmons‘ absence in the playoffs might give the Sixers an opportunity to answer some nagging questions about their roster. Even if Philadelphia is eliminated quickly, the team will get a chance to see what it looks like when it leans primarily on Joel Embiid rather than balancing its two stars, O’Connor writes.

Giannis Antetokounmpo To Miss Monday’s Game

The Bucks and Raptors will face one another on Monday night in a possible Eastern Conference Finals preview, but the MVP frontrunner won’t be taking part in the game. Milwaukee announced in this afternoon’s injury report that Giannis Antetokounmpo won’t play against Toronto due to oral surgery.

It’s probably safe to assume the ailment wouldn’t sideline Antetokounmpo for an important playoff game, but with the Bucks and Raptors locked into the East’s Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively, there’s no real need for the two teams to go all-out tonight.

It’s possible the Raptors will be without some of their key rotation players as well. Kyle Lowry (lower back soreness), Fred VanVleet (hyperextended right knee), and Serge Ibaka (right knee contusion) are all listed as questionable for the second end of a back-to-back set.

Here are a few more injury and availability updates from around the NBA:

  • Rockets star James Harden will sit out on Tuesday vs. San Antonio for rest purposes, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. However, Houston will get two other guards back this week, per Feigen, who says that Russell Westbrook (quad) will return on Tuesday and Eric Gordon (ankle) will play on Wednesday vs. Indiana. Each player will suit up for one of two games in the back-to-back set.
  • The Pelicans have listed Jrue Holiday (right elbow contusion), Brandon Ingram (right knee soreness), and Zion Williamson (right knee soreness) as out for Tuesday’s game vs. Sacramento. Head coach Alvin Gentry said today that the three players are sitting out for “precautionary” reasons, per ESPN’s Andrew Lopez (Twitter link). New Orleans was eliminated from playoff contention over the weekend.
  • It’s not an injury, but Suns center Deandre Ayton didn’t start this afternoon’s game vs. Oklahoma City because he missed his scheduled COVID-19 test on Sunday, tweets Gina Mizell. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links), Ayton was re-tested on Monday morning and received clearance to rejoin the team, arriving late to the game against the Thunder.

Atlantic Notes: Gasol, Ibaka, Wanamaker, Sixers

While the Raptors should have some flexibility in free agency this offseason, they may ultimately have to decide between re-signing Marc Gasol or Serge Ibaka, especially if they re-sign Fred VanVleet, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

As Koreen details, Ibaka – who is several years younger than Gasol – looks like the safer choice, particularly since Gasol has been slowed by health issues this season. However, considering the Raptors may prefer to hand out a big-money, one-year deal rather than make a multiyear commitment, age concerns may not be a major factor in the team’s decision, says Koreen.

After breaking down the Raptors’ numbers with each center on the court and noting Gasol’s abilities as a playmaker and as a positional defender, Koreen concludes that he’d probably prioritize Gasol over Ibaka if he were making the decision, since the Spaniard likely increases the team’s ceiling a little more — even if he comes with some added risk.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Following up on a report by Chema De Lucas (Twitter link), Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link) confirms that Celtics guard Brad Wanamaker has no intention of leaving the NBA to return to Europe. Before joining Boston for the 2018/19 season, Wanamaker had built an impressive international résumé, winning multiple championships and several awards in Germany and Turkey.
  • Derek Bodner of The Athletic explores how the Sixers would be affected if the 2020/21 salary cap comes in lower than initially expected. As Bodner observes, a tighter cap would make it harder for Philadelphia to trade Al Horford or Tobias Harris if that’s an option the team wants to explore. It could also substantially increase the 76ers’ potential tax bill.
  • In case you missed it, we passed along a handful of Knicks and Nets notes earlier today.

Raptors Notes: Gasol, Ibaka, VanVleet, Powell

Lost revenue from the NBA’s hiatus has the Raptors in a position of financial uncertainty as they look ahead to the offseason, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Toronto has just nine players signed beyond this season, and only four of them are part of the rotation. Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet are all headed for free agency, and the Raptors aren’t sure how much cap room they’ll have available.

The league may lose hundreds of millions in projected earnings if it can’t salvage a significant portion of its remaining season. That’s on top of lost money resulting from the dispute with China. Smith points out that Pascal Siakam‘s new extension, which begins next season, is based on a percentage of the salary cap. While that might give the Raptors more money to work with than they were expecting, it adds to the muddled financial picture.

There’s more from Toronto:

  • The Raptors should prioritize re-signing Gasol over Ibaka if they decide not to keep both, argues Blake Murphy of The Athletic. Even though Ibaka is five years younger and a better scorer, Murphy sees Gasol as a superior passer, defender and floor spacer. He also suggests that Gasol may be more willing to accept a large one-year contract, which allows the team to remain competitive in a talented 2021 free agent class.
  • Murphy had expected VanVleet to get an offer beyond what Toronto is willing to pay, but he cautions that a lower salary cap might change the equation. He projected that the Raptors would offer the fourth-year guard a new deal in the range of $17MM to $20MM annually. Only five or six teams will have the money to top that, and several of them already have young point guards in place. Murphy states that VanVleet’s best strategy may be to accept a long-term deal in Toronto that takes advantage of his Bird rights.
  • Norman Powell‘s improvement this season may tempt the Raptors to hold onto his contract rather than trade it for cap relief, Murphy adds. Powell is owed nearly $10.9MM next season and has an $11.6MM player option for 2021/22.