Terrence Ross

Southeast Notes: Ross, Heat, Batum, Hawks

Having been sent to Orlando from Toronto at this year’s trade deadline, Terrence Ross will get an earlier start to the offseason with the Magic than he has had in recent years with the Raptors. Nonetheless, Ross is looking forward to spending the summer in Orlando to “familiarize himself with the area and work on his game,” according to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, who notes that the veteran swingman has bought a house in Central Florida.

Ross has also looked more at home on the court for the Magic as of late — in his last 12 games, he has averaged 14.8 PPG, shooting .462/.390/.933. All of those marks except for 3PT% (he shot 39.5% in 2013/14) would be career highs for Ross if he maintained them over a full season, so Orlando has reason to be optimistic going forward.

Here’s more from around the Southeast division:

  • Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel believes it has “become clear” that James Johnson should be the top priority among the Heat‘s 2017 free agents. Dion Waiters looked like that player for much of the season, but Winderman notes that Waiters’ absence in recent weeks has allowed Miami to explore other options at shooting guard, and the results have been solid.
  • Veteran forward Nicolas Batum confirmed over the weekend that he won’t play for France in this year’s Eurobasket tournament (video link). Batum will instead dedicate his summer to the Hornets after the team endured a disappointing 2016/17 campaign.
  • The Hawks announced today in a press release that front office executive Malik Rose has been promoted and will serve as the general manager of Atlanta’s new D-League affiliate, the Erie BayHawks. The BayHawks had been Orlando’s NBADL affiliate this past season, but the Hawks will assume control of the Erie club when the Magic introduce a new Lakeland affiliate in 2017/18.

Southeast Notes: Mahinmi, Ibaka, Ross, Ilyasova

Ian Mahinmi‘s return from injury has brought a defensive presence to the Wizards‘ bench, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. He controlled the lane in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s comeback win over the Lakers, as L.A. shot just 5-of-21 in the final 12 minutes. Problems with both knees limited Mahinmi to just five games before the All-Star break, but he has played 19 since then and has shown why Washington was willing to give him a four-year, $64MM contract last summer. “He’s a great defender,” said teammate Kelly Oubre. “He’s what we’ve been missing in the paint. I can’t wait until he’s dunking on people like he used to.” 

There’s more news from the Southeast Division:

  • Serge Ibaka wanted to be used more often at center during his time with the Magic, relays Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel. Ibaka, who was acquired from Oklahoma City last summer and dealt to Toronto after 57 games, said he approached coach Frank Vogel about using him at the five spot in a small-ball lineup. The problem was that the Magic already had centers Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo in their rotation. Even though he’s with a playoff team now, Ibaka is disappointed that things didn’t work out better in Orlando. “I remember in the beginning, I was so excited,” he said. “Even mentally I was so fresh and excited about the season. But in life sometimes the way we try to do things, or the way we think things can go, may not happen. That’s the case out there in Orlando. But I had good moments there.”
  • Terrence Ross, who was sent to the Magic in that deal, got a friendly reception from the fans Monday in his return to Toronto, according to Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun. The 26-year-old swingman spent four and a half seasons with the Raptors.
  • Ersan Ilyasova was both surprised and not surprised to be traded from the Sixers to the Hawks at the deadline, tweets Jessica Camerato of CSNPhilly. He thought he fit well in Philadelphia, but adds that he understands the business side of basketball. Ilyasova has been with six teams since the 2014/15 season and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Lowry, Embiid, Celtics

Newly-added Raptors Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker will add much-needed veteran leadership to the team in Kyle Lowry‘s absence, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Of course, Lowry, who underwent successful wrist surgery on Tuesday (Twitter link), doesn’t plan to sit by idly while he gets healthy. As Smith details in another piece for The Star, the veteran point guard is giving plenty of input to his coaches and teammates while he’s sidelined.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic division:

  • In the wake of the Sixersannouncement that Joel Embiid is out for the season, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (video link) examines a tricky contract situation for the Sixers and Embiid, who will be eligible for an extension this offseason. Meanwhile, head coach Brett Brown weighs in with his thoughts on Embiid’s rookie season and an interesting Rookie of the Year race (link via Brian Seltzer of Sixers.com).
  • Despite season-ending injuries to Embiid and Ben Simmons, the future is still bright for the Sixers, thanks to former GM Sam Hinkie, says Chris Mannix of The Vertical.
  • As Isaiah Thomas explains to Michael Lee of The Vertical, Thomas and his Celtics teammates weren’t counting on the team adding major reinforcements at the trade deadline and are very comfortable moving forward with the current group. “We were ready to go to war with the guys in this locker room,” Thomas said. “There is no other way. We understand that and we’ve got the utmost confidence in each other to keep going.”
  • Having been sent from Toronto to Orlando in a trade last month, Terrence Ross pens a farewell to the Raptors at The Players’ Tribune.

Southeast Notes: Battier, Beal, Ibaka, Ross, Mahinmi

Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel wondered if Shane Battier, recently hired as the Heat‘s Director of Basketball Development and Analytics, will eventually assume leadership of the franchise from Pat Riley. For the interim, Winderman writes, Battier’s position will be the “first step” toward a post-Riley front office. Battier will work alongside Andy Elisburg and Nick Arison, executives with an advanced “business-of-basketball” acumen. While there is no reason to believe Riley is ready to step away from the game, Winderman could see Riley moving into a role similar to Jerry West’s with the Lakers; an executive board member who isn’t accountable for mundane, day-to-day front office operations.

More from around the Southeast…

  • Jared Dudley of the Suns stuck up for his former teammate, claiming Bradley Beal was snubbed of an All-Star roster spot. “The @NBA tells us players that winning matters! Wizards are the hottest team in the NBA! Bradley Beal is healthy and balling!”, Dudley tweeted on Thursday. (Twitter link) Keely Diven of CSN Mid-Atlantic argued that Carmelo Anthony received the All-Star nod due to his ability to attract media attention. Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today gave further insight to ‘Melo’s selection, noting that Anthony received more votes from coaches than Beal.
  • Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders described it as “a little obvious” that Serge Ibaka did not bond with his teammates in Orlando. Ibaka, who was dealt to Toronto on February 14, didn’t mesh with the playing styles of Orlando’s younger players (Twitter link). By Kyler’s account, it seems that Ibaka’s teammates “had real issues” with the 27-year-old, and welcomed a change.
  • Terrence Ross told Cody Taylor of Basketball Insiders that he embraced the “fresh start” in Orlando. “I was kind of aware that something could have been happening before the deadline so it wasn’t too shocking,” Ross said. “At the same time, being drafted to a team and playing for one team, it’s a little different, but I’m enjoying the process. It’s a good opportunity. It’s a new fresh start for me and I’m looking forward to it. I just kind of hope we can bring some of that experience I got in Toronto and bring it here, and really just helping wherever I can.” Ross, who has averaged 10.4 points through 54 games in 2016/17, is in the first season of a three-year, $31.5MM contract.
  • Jason Smith will likely see a dip in minutes as the Wizards ease Ian Mahinmi into the lineup, Candace Buckner of the Washington Post writes. Smith, who has averaged 7.8 points with 4.8 rebounds over his last six games, has been a serviceable back-up to starter Marcin Gortat“What he’s [Smith] done the last two or three months is what he’s done his entire career and he’s been terrific,” said Coach Scott Brooks. “But if you have a good team, everybody’s going to have to sacrifice. It’s not just Jason, starters are going to have to sacrifice.”

Florida Notes: Ibaka, Ross, Wade, Riley

The Magic are viewing last summer’s trade for Serge Ibaka as a “calculated risk” that didn’t work out, relays Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. To obtain the veteran power forward, Orlando sent Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova to Oklahoma City, along with the 11th pick in the 2016 draft, which became Domantas Sabonis. Less than a year later, the Magic shipped Ibaka to the Raptors in exchange for Terrence Ross and a pick that will fall toward the end of the first round. Ibaka played 56 games for the Magic, averaging 15.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per night, but the team was just 21-36 with him on the roster.

“I think if you go back in time, you look at what was needed for us in the frontcourt and some of the voids we thought we had on the roster,” explained GM Rob Hennigan. “Then, you balance that with the logjam we had at the two guard at the time with Evan [Fournier] and Victor, we felt like it made sense. Sometimes you have to take a few shots down the field. Sometimes it pans out; sometimes it won’t. I applaud our aggressiveness. I think given the same situation, circumstantially, we would make the same trade. Sometimes, things don’t work out as you plan. I think it’s important to be proactive in trying to rectify that too.”

There’s more NBA news from the Sunshine State:

  • Ross was inactive for tonight’s game, according to a tweet from the Magic. The team wasn’t notified before game time that both players passed their physicals and the deal was finalized, according to Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel (Twitter link).
  • The Heat had been tied to Ibaka in trade rumors, but weren’t interested in trying to top Toronto’s offer, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. They were reluctant to give up much for a player who will be a free agent after the season and who may be older than his listed age of 27. Also, Miami wasn’t able to offer a first-round pick this year because its 2018 first-rounder may be shipped to Phoenix. Winderman notes that Tyler Johnson can block any trade until July and that most of the roster wouldn’t have enticed the Magic. The writer believes Josh Richardson would have been Miami’s best offer.
  • A call from Heat president Pat Riley might have convinced Dwyane Wade to stay in Miami, the Bulls star says in a podcast with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wade opted to sign with Chicago last summer after negotiations with the Heat stalled. “I love Pat and I know he loves me,” Wade said. “The fact that we didn’t talk, that hurt. That was my deciding factor when it came down to the end of the day and he didn’t show he wanted me there. I know the Arison family loved me and wanted me there. I know Spo [coach Erik Spoelstra] wanted me there.”

Trade Notes: Warriors, Gibson, Raptors, Okafor

The Warriors haven’t been involved in many trade rumors in recent weeks, which makes sense, since it’s hard to find many areas the team needs to improve. According to Anthony Slater of The San Jose Mercury News, general manager Bob Myers intends to keep an eye out for possible deals, but is happy to stand pat if nothing materializes.

“We don’t want to disrupt what we have,” the Warriors GM said. “Doesn’t mean we won’t answer the phone, doesn’t mean we won’t explore possibilities. But reality is, we like who we have and, even if we didn’t, our options are somewhat limited. Utah has our first (round pick) this year from the (Andre) Iguodala transaction back in 2013. So we’ll see what happens. If we end up not doing anything, that would be a fine outcome as well.”

Here are a few more trade-related notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • Before the Raptors traded for Serge Ibaka on Tuesday, the team had been engaged in discussions with the Bulls about Taj Gibson. According to Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com, Terrence Ross wasn’t believed to be a part of those talks, though the two sides were discussing a package that included a first-round pick. Having sent Ross and a first-rounder to Orlando, the Raps are now almost certainly out on Gibson, though the veteran power forward acknowledges there will likely be more chatter up until next Thursday.
  • Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun wonders if the Raptors are considering a follow-up move after trading for Ibaka. As Wolstat points out, Toronto will have a crowded frontcourt when Patrick Patterson gets healthy, and Cory Joseph might be expendable if the club has confidence in its other point guard options behind Kyle Lowry.
  • Having been pulled from the Sixers‘ lineup for the last two games, Jahlil Okafor admits he thought there was a “good chance” he’d be traded to another team by now, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer details. However, he’s ready to focus on his return to the court tonight in Boston.
  • A handful of ESPN insiders, including Kevin Pelton and Amin Elhassen (Insider link), examine the Pacific division and make a few suggestions for what sort of deals the Clippers, Kings, Lakers, Suns, and Warriors should consider.

Magic Trade Serge Ibaka To Raptors

4:50pm: The Magic and Raptors have each confirmed the trade as reported, making it official (Twitter links).

10:13am: The Magic and Raptors have agreed to a trade that will send Serge Ibaka to Toronto, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. According to Wojnarowski, the Magic will receive Terrence Ross and a 2017 first-round pick in the swap.SergeIbaka vertical

The Raptors hold a pair of first-round picks for 2017, having acquired the Clippers’ lottery-protected first-rounder in addition to their own. According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), Orlando will get the less favorable of those two selections. As our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show, the Raptors’ pick currently projects to land at No. 20 or 21, while the Clippers’ pick would be No. 25, though the standings remain tight.

For the Magic, it’s essentially an admission that last summer’s Ibaka trade was a misstep. At the time, Orlando parted with a package of Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova, and a lottery pick (Domantas Sabonis) for the Oklahoma City big man. Ibaka’s value has declined a little as his contract nears its end, but a package of Ross and a late first-rounder still pales in comparison to what the Magic initially gave up for the 27-year-old.

[RELATED: Magic GM Acknowledges Criticism Is ‘Warranted’]

Still, last summer’s trade was a sunk cost for GM Rob Hennigan, who had vowed to be “aggressive” in pursuing trades this month. Reports had indicated Ibaka was unlikely to re-sign with Orlando this offseason, so the Magic were at least able to add a pair of assets that will help the team beyond 2016/17. Ross is under contract at a rate of $10.5MM annually for two years beyond this season, while the player drafted with Orlando’s newly-acquired 2017 first-rounder will be under team control through at least 2020/21. Hennigan will likely continue to be active on the trade market leading up to next Thursday’s deadline.

The Magic are also able to create a modest trade exception worth $2.25MM in the deal. That’s the difference between the 2016/17 salaries for Ibaka ($12.25MM) and Ross ($10MM). That trade exception will expire one year from now.

From the Raptors’ perspective, the deal will give them the stretch four they have long coveted. Although the team has been linked to several other power forwards – including Paul Millsap, Danilo Gallinari, and Taj Gibson – Ibaka’s name has perhaps been the one most frequently connected to Toronto in trade rumors. The Raps reportedly tried to acquire Ibaka during the 2016 draft, offering up their own lottery pick in a package, but were unable to match the Magic’s offer at the time.

Although Ibaka will be a free agent this summer, the Raptors now hold his Bird rights and have every intention of trying to re-sign him, tweets Wojnarowski. With Ibaka and Kyle Lowry both in line for lucrative new long-term deals in free agency in July, it will be interesting to see if Toronto moves another contract or two off its books in order to avoid going deep into luxury tax territory. It’s also worth noting that Ibaka and Lowry share an agent in ASM’s Andy Miller.

In the shorter term, Ibaka will join a Raptors frontcourt that features Valanciunas, Patrick Patterson, and Lucas Nogueira, while Norman Powell will be the top candidate to assume a good chunk of Ross’ minutes. In addition to providing some of the rim protection and rebounding that the team lost when Bismack Biyombo departed in free agency, Ibaka will also give Toronto an outside threat on offense.

Although he didn’t shoot much from beyond the arc earlier in his career, Ibaka has developed into a reliable option from outside, making a career-high 38.8% of his long-distance attempts this season. He’s also averaging a career-high 15.1 PPG to go along with 6.8 RPG and 1.6 BPG.

The timing of the move is good for the Raptors, who have been slumping so far in 2017. After posting a losing record in January, the team is just 2-4 so far in February, and will look to regain ground on the Cavaliers, as well as the surging Celtics and Wizards.

Before the Magic and Raptors struck a deal, Ibaka was believed to be drawing interest from the Heat, among other teams. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link), other offers for Ibaka were believed to be “shockingly weak,” with the big man’s impending free agency limiting his trade value.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raptors Rumors: Ibaka, Gallinari, Gibson, Ross

The Raptors’ hold on a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference is tenuous, as the team has won just four of its lost 14 games to slip to 32-23, fourth in the East. While injuries have played a part in Toronto’s slump, the club could use some roster reinforcements, particularly at the power forward spot, where the Raptors have been on the lookout for a long-term solution in recent years.

Here’s the latest on the reigning Atlantic division champs:

  • The Raptors have been “actively involved” in discussions for at least three power forwards, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, who identifies Serge Ibaka, Danilo Gallinari, and Taj Gibson as potential targets. Ibaka and Gallinari have been linked to Toronto recently, but Gibson hasn’t been mentioned in many trade rumors this season. Back in July, a report indicated that the Raptors had been close to acquiring Gibson before Dwyane Wade agreed to join the Bulls.
  • The Raptors are “playing hardball” in trade talks, per The Sporting News. A source tells Deveney that the club has resisted the idea of giving up Terrence Ross, and Deveney says Toronto also wants to keep Bruno Caboclo, who is a “project the team wants to complete itself.”
  • According to Deveney, the Raptors are reluctant to give up substantial packages for players like Ibaka, Gallinari, and Gibson, who are all eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer.
  • Following the Raptors’ Sunday loss to the Pistons, Kyle Lowry aired his frustrations during a conversation with reporters. The star point guard suggested that things need to change in Toronto, and his comments were interpreted by many as a veiled criticism of head coach Dwane Casey. However, Lowry said today that he wasn’t directing his comments at anyone in particular, and Casey stressed that the club is sticking together through its rough patch (Twitter links via Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun and Josh Lewenberg of TSN).

Magic Exploring Possible Serge Ibaka Deal?

The Magic have “picked up their attempts” to trade Serge Ibaka before next month’s deadline, league sources tell Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. According to Deveney, Orlando has experienced some “buyers’ remorse” after trading for Ibaka last summer, and the team is looking to get something for him to avoid the risk of losing him for nothing in free agency.

Although Deveney suggests that there’s pessimism about Ibaka re-signing with the Magic this summer, he adds that people around the NBA aren’t sure what the former Oklahoma City big man will do in free agency, which complicates his trade market. Teams would be unwilling to give up a significant return to rent Ibaka for a few months.

“They’re asking too much,” one front office executive said of the Magic, per Deveney. “(The Magic) would probably like to make a few moves there, but Ibaka is the one they’re really pushing because he is going to leave. But they have had too high a price. They want a young player and a pick, two young players — you know, a package that can get them back some assets. They’re not going to get that. Not for three, maybe four months of Serge Ibaka.”

The Magic surrendered their 2016 lottery pick (Domantas Sabonis) along with Victor Oladipo and Ersan Ilyasova when they acquired Ibaka, signaling that they expected the 27-year-old to be a part of the long-term plan. However, the club has struggled this season and appears to be slipping out of playoff contention, with a 19-30 record, reducing the odds of Ibaka wanting to re-sign with Orlando in July.

General manager Rob Hennigan said last week that he expects to be “aggressive” in pursuing ways to improve Orlando’s roster, and addressing the club’s frontcourt logjam would be a good place to start. With Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo joining a group that already featured Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, there aren’t enough minutes to go around, and Gordon has spent a lot of time playing out of position.

According to Deveney, there’s “no chance” of a trade involving Biyombo, who signed a four-year, $68MM deal last summer. Gordon is also a key part of the Magic’s long-term plan, which leaves Ibaka and Vucevic as possible trade candidates. We heard last week that the Celtics were among the teams to talk to Orlando about Vucevic.

As for Ibaka, even if he’s no more than a rental piece, there should be several teams with interest in talking to the Magic about a deal. Deveney identifies the Celtics, Rockets, and Raptors as a few potential suitors, though he cites a source who says Toronto isn’t very interested in giving up Terrence Ross in a trade for Ibaka.

Stein/Lowe On Cousins, George, Noel, Monroe

In a Wednesday edition of The Lowe Post podcast, ESPN’s Marc Stein and Zach Lowe discussed several teams who could make a trade at some point this season, and several players who are candidates to be moved. Both ESPN reporters agreed that the Trail Blazers are one of the most likely clubs to complete a deal within the next three months, with Lowe suggesting he’d be “blown away” if Portland doesn’t make at least one trade. Stein also identified the Kings, Suns, Nuggets, and Celtics as clubs to watch for potential deals.

Here are several more highlights from the discussion:

  • “I’ve had a couple guys from other teams tell me they’re hearing that the Kings are starting to get sick of [DeMarcus] Cousins, whatever that means,” Lowe said at one point. Lowe added that there are so many voices involved in the Kings’ decision-making process – in ownership and the front office – that it’s hard to know exactly what the team is thinking. Some decision-makers may want to move Cousins, while others would rather keep him.
  • During the conversation about Cousins, Stein said that the latest word out of Sacramento still suggests the Kings don’t want to move their star big man, though teams around the NBA think the Kings will – or should – make a move by the deadline to maximize Cousins’ value. In Lowe’s view, at least one or two suitors would be willing to give up “a lot” for Cousins, despite the posturing going on at this point to downplay his value.
  • Both Stein and Lowe are frequently asked whether Paul George might become available, and Stein points out that if teams are asking reporters about it, they’re probably asking the Pacers as well. George is extension-eligible and Indiana has expressed interest in locking him up to a max deal, but nothing has happened so far, so teams may sense an opening. However, Lowe hears that most people expect Pacers president Larry Bird to “take it to the end” with George, and to avoid trading him at all costs.
  • Lowe confirms a couple trade rumors that have been reported in the past, noting that the Raptors and Sixers discussed a possible deal that would have sent Nerlens Noel to Toronto for Terrence Ross and at least one other piece. The Pelicans have also had “semi-serious talks” with the Bucks about Greg Monroe over the course of the last six to 12 months. Nothing is imminent on either front though, and Lowe isn’t sure exactly what New Orleans would give up for Monroe.
  • Stein and Lowe both agree that Monroe’s trade value is very low, with Stein observing that there’s more supply than demand for big men on the trade market right now. Lowe also wonders how Monroe will handle his 2017/18 player option (worth nearly $18MM) if the Bucks keep him and continue to bury him in the rotation, crushing his value — he could exercise it out of spite, or opt out if he badly wants to find a better situation.
  • According to Lowe, the Mavericks were among the teams hoping Dennis Schroder would reach free agency in 2017, but his new extension with the Hawks took that possibility off the table.
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