Thaddeus Young

Raptors Notes: Offseason, Nurse, Roster Needs

During his end-of-season press conference on Tuesday, Raptors president and vice chairman Masai Ujiri spoke about potentially adding a reliable backup point guard to help ease the burden on Fred VanVleet, per Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star. Ujiri also said Toronto could use a center who can shoot, defend the rim, and switch defensively. However, he acknowledged that finding those players won’t be easy, given what the team asks of its rotation players — especially on defense.

“Yes, it is a high standard … we want to play on both sides of the court, that’s really important, and there’s a fine line,” Ujiri said. “There’s a lot of luck to it when you’re trying to find those guys that actually fit, that really, really fit. We’re hoping. I trust our scouts, our player personnel guys, they’ve done an excellent job. If we can’t find then, we’ll develop them. That’s what we’re hoping.”

As Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, the Raptors will have to decide this summer how much long-term money they’re willing to add to their books. VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. could be in line for raises as soon as 2023, while Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby can become free agents in 2024. In other words, the team will have to be wary about how it approaches multiyear commitments for free agents, including Chris Boucher and Thaddeus Young.

“I think there are things we’re really going to evaluate the next few days,” Ujiri said when asked about possible multiyear deals. “This is what you guys making me do this press conference right after the season (causes). If you’d waited three weeks, then I’d (have) been able to tell you what all our meetings (yielded) and all the things that we want to do. But right now, I don’t have an answer for you.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Addressing the report that Raptors head coach Nick Nurse is a top target for the Lakers, Ujiri dismissed that rumor, according to Koreen. “No team has contacted me, and I see all the stuff you see.” Ujiri said. “I dream like they dream. I want (Lionel) Messi. I want (Cristiano) Ronaldo. I want Kobe Bryant. So they can keep dreaming. I dream, too.”
  • Contrary to popular belief, Toronto’s biggest need isn’t at center, but on the perimeter, contends Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. While the Raptors would certainly inquire if a big man like Rudy Gobert or Myles Turner become available, they don’t want to commit to a lesser center who doesn’t fit their system, according to Lewenberg, who says the club “desperately” needs more shooting and possibly another shot creator.
  • Toronto hasn’t historically been a marquee NBA free agent destination, but Nurse – who spoke this week about wanting to add more catch-and-shoot players and athletic wings – sees no reason why the Raptors shouldn’t be able to attract talent.I think we got a lot to offer here,” Nurse said (Twitter link via Eric Koreen of The Athletic). “We’ve got a winning team, great fans, first-class organization. I’d want to play here.”
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype previews some of the big decisions facing the Raptors this offseason, while Drew Maresca of BasketballNews.com takes a look at how the team retooled its roster following Kawhi Leonard‘s 2019 departure.

Raptors Notes: Barnes, Offseason, Young, Achiuwa

The Raptors were unable to complete a historic comeback after falling behind 3-0 in their first-round series with the Sixers, getting blown out in the second half of Thursday’s Game 6. Still, Toronto exceeded expectations this season, having come into the year as a projected lottery team.

“I think we took a lot of steps,” standout forward Pascal Siakam said after Thursday’s loss, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. “We got a lot better over the season. It was obviously up and down, but we did get better. Knowing this team and our front office and the people that we have in the organization, I know that the goal is to continue to get better and improve and be a way better team next year.”

Besides getting an impressive bounce-back season from Siakam, who is a legitimate All-NBA candidate, the Raptors saw players like Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr. take another step forward and Precious Achiuwa evolve from a roll of the dice into a potential long-term cornerstone.

The team’s biggest win, according to Lewenberg, was the selection of Scottie Barnes in last year’s draft — it’s “impossible to overstate his importance” to the team and its future on the heels of his Rookie of the Year debut, Lewenberg writes.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Despite the strides the Raptors made in 2021/22, there are important areas that need to be addressed. In particular, the club needs to add more shooting, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto’s lack of shooting was its undoing against Philadelphia, according to Eric Koreen of The Athletic, who notes that the team made just 7-of-35 (20.0%) three-pointers in Game 6 and 29.9% for the series. While Fred VanVleet‘s injury absence contributed to those struggles, the team could still use another outside threat or two.
  • Upgrading the bench will be another top priority for the Raptors this summer, Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider link) writes in his offseason preview. Toronto has Bird rights on both Thaddeus Young and Chris Boucher and could re-sign them without dipping into its mid-level exception. The front office has also shown a knack for identifying young talent outside of the draft lottery, Marks adds, so the No. 33 pick could be useful for adding an inexpensive contributor.
  • Within his preview, Marks notes that VanVleet will become extension-eligible in July and Siakam will become eligible for a new deal in October. Both players are on contracts that run through 2024, though VanVleet has a player option for 2023/24 and could theoretically become a free agent in ’23.
  • Speaking on Friday to reporters, Young conveyed how impressed he was with the Raptors after coming over from San Antonio at February’s trade deadline. This organization is elite,” Young said, per Lewenberg (Twitter link). “One of the top I’ve ever been a part of… I loved everything about this experience. As far as the team, the sky is the limit… This team can be really, really scary.” Young added that his family will be his top priority as he enters free agency and didn’t rule out the possibility of undergoing surgery on his injured thumb (Twitter links via Koreen and Grange).
  • The pairing of Achiuwa and the Raptors represents a perfect marriage between a player and an organizational philosophy, Koreen writes for The Athletic. The team’s willingness to experiment with Achiuwa rather than trying to rein him in or pigeonhole him has paid dividends so far, says Koreen.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Harden, J. Brown, T. Young, Knicks

After winning the first three games of their series vs. the Raptors, the Sixers have now dropped two consecutive close-out opportunities and will head back to Toronto clinging to a 3-2 lead. Star center Joel Embiid, who tore a ligament in his right thumb in Game 3, said after Monday’s loss that he wants to make an effort going forward not to favor that injury quite so much.

I’m in a situation where I try to protect it,” Embiid said (Twitter link via Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer). “Before I even attack or if I get the ball, it’s almost like I’m not playing freely where I’m like, ‘Well, if I do this, I might get hit or I might get hurt.'”

Embiid also told reporters on Monday night that his All-Star teammate James Harden, who attempted just 11 shots from the field and had 15 points in Game 5, needs to be more aggressive on the offensive end, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays.

“I’ve been saying all season since he got here, he needs to be aggressive and he needs to be himself,” Embiid said. “That’s not really my job. That’s probably on Coach (Doc Rivers) to talk to him and tell him to take more shots, especially if they’re going to guard me the way they’ve been guarding. But that’s really not my job.”

No team in NBA history has blown a 3-0 series lead. If they can get a home victory on Thursday, the Raptors would be just the fourth team (of 145) to force a Game 7 after falling behind 3-0, which would put a ton of pressure on the 76ers to close out the series on Saturday at home.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics wing Jaylen Brown earned another one of his contract bonuses on Monday due to the team’s first-round series victory. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter), advancing to the second round assured Brown of an extra $482,143 this season.
  • The Raptors‘ decision to give up a first-round pick for Thaddeus Young at February’s trade deadline may look short-sighted if he leaves in free agency this summer, but he has provided intangible value to the team through his veteran leadership and understanding of the game, says Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Additionally, since the Raptors acquired a second-rounder from San Antonio in the Young deal, they only ended up moving down 13 spots in the draft, from No. 20 to No. 33.
  • In his latest mailbag, Fred Katz of The Athletic addresses a series of offseason questions facing the Knicks, weighing in on Mitchell Robinson‘s upcoming free agency, whether Tyus Jones or Malcolm Brogdon make sense as offseason targets, and more.

Raptors’ Scottie Barnes Out For Game 2

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes, who was officially diagnosed on Sunday with a left ankle sprain after leaving Game 1 on Saturday due to the injury, has been ruled out for Game 2 on Monday, head coach Nick Nurse told reporters, including Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link).

Barnes was wearing a walking boot on his left foot today, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. The Rookie of the Year finalist told reporters that he’s feeling better each day and is staying positive, but is unsure about when he might be able to return, per Lewenberg and Bontemps (Twitter link).

Losing Barnes is a major blow to a Raptors team that was defeated soundly by the Sixers in Game 1. No Raptor logged more minutes during the regular season than the No. 4 overall pick, who had an impressive playoff debut with 15 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists in 32 minutes before Joel Embiid stepped on his foot, ending his night.

While Barnes has been definitively ruled out for Game 2, the Raptors are still considering Gary Trent Jr. and Thaddeus Young doubtful, tweets Bontemps. Young and the training staff are working to see if he’ll be able to play through a thumb sprain, while Trent missed Monday’s shootaround due to a non-COVID illness.

As Lewenberg tweets, if one of Trent or Young is going to play tonight, it sounds more likely to be Young, but Toronto may be without both of them in addition to missing Barnes.

Raptors’ Barnes, Young, Trent Unlikely To Play In Game 2

3:20pm: The Raptors have confirmed in a press statement that Barnes, Trent and Young are all doubtful to play in a critical Game 2 against the Sixers on Monday.

The club has indicated that Barnes officially has been diagnosed with a left ankle sprain, while the official diagnosis for Young is a left thumb hyperextension.


12:55pm: Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said today that rookie forward Scottie Barnes, veteran forward Thaddeus Young, and starting shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. are doubtful to suit up in Toronto’s second game of its first round series vs. the Sixers on Monday, reports Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

According to Bontemps, Nurse indicated that all three Raptors players will be monitored over the course of the next day.

“I mean, listen, it doesn’t look good for any of those guys,” Nurse said after a team practice Sunday. “They’re all going to be listed as probably doubtful, so it doesn’t look good for any of them. We’ll evaluate them as we go and see where we end up.”

Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports reports (via Twitter) that Trent left the club’s practice Sunday as he deals with an illness. Nurse revealed that the ailment, a non-coronavirus illness, has kept Trent’s attendance in practice erratic.

Barnes, who tweaked the ankle during the Raptors’ 131-111 Game 1 loss to the Sixers on Sunday, is undergoing an MRI on the ankle. Young, dealing with a left thumb sprain, already got an MRI of his own and is currently waiting on the results.

Losing Barnes and Trent, both of whom started for Toronto Saturday, would be a big blow for the fifth-seeded Raptors, already the underdogs in the series. Young played for six minutes yesterday as a reserve.

The 6’9″ Barnes, a first-year player out of Florida State, is a finalist for Rookie of the Year hardware this season. Across his 74 contests for the 48-34 Raptors, the 20-year-old is averaging 15.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 3.5 APG, while shooting 49.2% from the field and connecting on 73.5% of his free-throw looks.

Atlantic Notes: Young, Siakam, VanVleet, Harden, Pressure

Raptors veteran Thaddeus Young has mixed feelings about facing his former club in the first-round of the playoffs, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Young was drafted by the Sixers back in 2007 and spent his first seven seasons with the team.

Honestly, that’s where I grew up,” Young said. “That’s where I went from being a boy to a man. I started my family there, married my wife, (had my) two kids. I went from being a kid, getting drafted seven days after turning 19 years old, and then to leave there at 26 and go to another team, it was definitely a hard situation for me because I thought I would always be there.”

Philly will always be another home for me. I still talk to people that sit courtside. I still talk to some of the people that work in the organization all the time. They’re family, but at the end of the day I’m with Toronto Raptors now and this is my new family. And I have to make sure that my new family is gonna get this win and get this series.”

As Lewenberg notes, Young is the only player in his thirties (he’s 33) on Toronto’s roster, and his experience and leadership has been invaluable to the young team.

I think he’s been super vocal,” Pascal Siakam said of Young. “He’s been through a lot, he’s played in big games, and he’s been in the league for [a long time], so I think that’s another presence. Obviously, we (referring to himself and Fred VanVleet) like to think of ourselves as vets, but we have six years of experience in the NBA and he has 15. That’s so many games and I think that we can definitely learn from him.”

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • The Raptors need Siakam and VanVleet to lead the way in the postseason, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Siakam and VanVleet are polar opposites in terms of leadership styles, Smith notes. VanVleet is vocal and intense, holding teammates and himself accountable, while Siakam is a quiet, lead-by-example type. Both players will be critical to the team’s chances of making a deep playoff run.
  • Sixers guard James Harden claims he isn’t feeling any pressure to perform in the playoffs, as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps relays. “Pressure, no. I feel good,” Harden said with a smile after Thursday’s practice at the team’s facility. “I’m ready to hoop. There’s nothing to it.” Harden also gave credit to the Raptors, his first-round opponent. “They just fly around,” Harden said. “They play extremely hard. They kind of junk up the game. They have a lot of guys that are tall, athletic, long and solid defenders. They use their length very well, and they just have each other’s back. They run around, they scramble, and they fly around defensively, so for us we have to execute, making sure we’re crisp in our passes and if the shot’s available, take it.”
  • The stakes are extremely high for the Sixers after they made the major trade to acquire Harden, contends Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. If the 76ers have another early exit, they’ll have a tough decision to make with the 32-year-old former MVP, who’s expected to pick up his $47.4MM player option this summer and will be eligible for a massive four-year extension worth over $220MM.

And-Ones: G League Ignite, Barea, Contract Extensions, Ukraine

Being involved with All-Star Weekend was a dream experience for several members of G League Ignite, writes Tania Ganguli of The New York Times. Jaden HardyScoot Henderson, MarJon Beauchamp and Dyson Daniels were all selected to participate alongside first- and second-year NBA players in the Rising Stars games. Fanbo Zeng and Michael Foster Jr. were chosen for a shooting competition, but Zeng had to withdraw because of an injury.

“I was nervous before the game before I even got out there, but when I got out there it was kind of relieving,” said Beauchamp, who is projected to be a mid first-round selection in this year’s draft. Beauchamp added that he always watches the All-Star events, “so just seeing myself on the screen is pretty amazing.”

The Ignite team, which serves as an alternative to college for NBA prospects, is only in its second season but is proving to be successful. Two Ignite players, Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, were lottery picks last year and the team continues to attract elite young talent, paying up to $500K per season. The chance to be part of the All-Star experience was a bonus that the NBA offered this year.

“It was just fun to be able to be out there on the court with those young stars really and just being able to go out there and just laugh and compete,” Hardy said.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Veteran guard J.J. Barea will return to Cangrejeros de Santurce in San Juan, Puerto Rico, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. The 37-year-old, who spent 14 seasons in the NBA, also played for the team last season.
  • Although Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic will miss an extended stretch due to plantar fasciitis, he’s among a handful of viable candidates to receive contract extensions before the regular season ends, writes Yossi Gozlan of Hoops Hype. Nurkic is on track to be a free agent this summer, but he’s also eligible to extend his current deal for up to $64.5MM over four years. Another option, Gozlan notes, is to extend for two years at $25.8MM if Nurkic wants to keep his trade eligibility this offseason. Gozlan identifies Robert Covington, Thaddeus Young, Gary Harris and Tyus Jones as other players who are eligible for in-season extensions and could be realistic candidates.
  • The attacks on Ukraine are having an effect on basketball in the region, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Roughly 40 American players have played in the country this year and several are still under contract. An agent told Smith that there’s an effort to bring those players home to protect their safety, even though it would be a breach of contract. Familiar names on the Budivelnik Kiev roster include Michael Stockton, son of Hall-of-Famer John Stockton, along with former NBA players Gian Clavell, Drew Gordon and Alec Brown, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Raptors Notes: Claxton, Young, VanVleet, Offense

Reports last week indicated that the Nets were exploring possible Nic Claxton trades right up until Thursday’s trade deadline, and the young center later said he thought he might be on the move. We don’t know all the teams Brooklyn might have talked to about Claxton, but ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his Lowe Post podcast that he believes the Raptors were one of the Nets’ potential trade partners.

“I think one thing that happened at the trade deadline that I heard was that (the Nets) were very close to a deal with Toronto that would have sent Claxton to Toronto for a first round pick and some protections on it,” Lowe said, per RealGM. “I think their intention was to sort of refit the roster by maybe flipping that pick for another wing, another shooter – (Clippers forward) Robert Covington‘s name was mentioned – and sort of balance it out. That trade fell apart and Toronto went in another direction.”

The Raptors ultimately sent their lottery-protected 2022 first-round pick and Goran Dragic‘s expiring contract to San Antonio in exchange for Thaddeus Young and Detroit’s ’22 second-round selection, while Claxton remained with the Nets.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Head coach Nick Nurse is impressed by how quickly the newly-acquired Young has been learning the intricacies of the Raptors’ offensive and defensive systems despite not going through any live practices yet, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “He looked like he’s going to be able to help us out there, like just his movement with the ball, shot creation, pass creation, those kinds of things,” Nurse said of Young, who made his Raptors debut on Monday.
  • Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet underwent an MRI on his sore right knee and it came back clean, tweets Smith. VanVleet is listed as questionable for the team’s last game before the All-Star break on Wednesday — if he doesn’t play tonight, it’s unclear whether he’ll still suit up for Sunday’s All-Star Game.
  • Although Young should be a solid role player for the Raptors, he’s unlikely to address the team’s biggest issue, its half-court offense, says Eric Koreen of The Athletic. As Koreen writes, Toronto didn’t make a move at the deadline to upgrade that area and will likely feel the effects of that decision the rest of the way.

Raptors Notes: Porzingis, Trade Talks, Young, Ujiri

Before Dallas agreed to trade Kristaps Porzingis to Washington last Thursday, one report suggested that the Mavericks and Raptors may be having discussions about the big man.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) and Marc Stein (Substack link) have since confirmed that Toronto had some interest in Porzingis. However, Grange says the Raptors never got close to making a deal for the former lottery pick, while league sources tell Stein that Toronto “stepped away” from those discussions due to concerns about Porzingis’ long-term health.

Porzingis was eventually traded to the Wizards along with a protected second-round pick in exchange for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Grange adds (via Twitter) that last week’s three-team trade talks involving the Raptors, Lakers, and Knicks reached an impasse in part due to L.A.’s luxury tax concerns. Presumably, the framework that was discussed would’ve required the Lakers to take on extra salary, increasing the projected luxury tax bill for a team that doesn’t currently hold a top-eight spot in the West.
  • Discussing the Raptors’ decision to acquire Thaddeus Young at the trade deadline, president Masai Ujiri explained that the forward checked multiple boxes for the team: “We wanted a veteran-type player, a Bird rights-type player, that came and bridged (a gap) helping our young guys both in the locker room and on the court” (link via Mike Ganter of The Toronto Sun). For his part, Young told reporters he’s excited to be in Toronto because the team’s energy and style matches how he plays (Twitter link via Eric Koreen of The Athletic).
  • Ujiri admitted during his post-deadline press conference that he doesn’t love the trade deadline, since he views the offseason as a better time to make moves that reshape the roster (Twitter link via Koreen).
  • The Raptors’ roster – which is heavy on length and 6’8″ forwards – reflects Ujiri’s refusal to subscribe to team-building orthodoxy, Koreen writes in a story for The Athletic. “We’re in a copycat league. Everybody wants to do what another person is doing,” Ujiri said. “‘Go play like Golden State.’ Well, we don’t have those types of players. You know, it’s hard to find those types of players. So, for me, we have to create ways where we think we’re going to win in this league, because it’s about winning. And I feel strongly that we can create our own style of play and bring these types of players and figure out a way to do it. Look, will it succeed? I pray it does. I’m hoping it does. And I think it will.”

Atlantic Notes: Randle, Young, Robinson, Sixers, D’Antoni

Knicks star Julius Randle is rejuvenated and encouraged despite his team coming off a rough road trip, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. New York went 1-4 on the trip, defeating the Warriors and losing to the Lakers, Jazz, Nuggets and Blazers.

“Honestly encouraged in a sense of this was a tough trip,” Randle said. “We played some really good teams on this trip. We were in the game and really gave ourselves a shot to win four of the five games.

“It’s encouraging in that sense. But it’s also very disappointing that we were 1-4, easily could have gone 4-1. It’s tough. It’s tough. But for me it sucks, got a long plane ride back home.”

The Knicks are now 25-32 and rank 12th in the Eastern Conference. The team will return to New York for a four-game homestand on Monday, playing the Thunder, Nets, Heat and Sixers.

There’s more out of the Atlantic: