Raptors Rumors

Warriors Notes: Moody, Thompson, Green, Paul, Payton

Moses Moody hit several big shots in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, but he wasn’t on the floor for the closing minutes as the Warriors fell to the Kings. That’s something coach Steve Kerr may have to change if the third-year guard remains productive, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.

Moody scored 11 points in the first seven minutes of the quarter, making all four of his shot attempts. However, Kerr opted to replace him with Andrew Wiggins with 4:26 remaining.

“Moses was awesome tonight,” Kerr said. “We needed (Wiggins) on the floor for defense against (De’Aaron) Fox, and we decided to go with Klay (Thompson) and our vets. We thought about keeping him out there. But we made the move that we made.”

Kerr’s loyalty to his veterans cost the Warriors an important division game and a possibly a chance to reach the in-season tournament quarterfinals, according to Thompson. With Moody and rookie Brandin Podziemski both playing well, Thompson believes Kerr will eventually have to trust them with a game on the line.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Stephen Curry remains as productive as ever, but Thompson and Draymond Green are no longer playing at a championship level, contends Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. He notes that Thompson has been forcing shots and can’t stay in front of quicker players on defense, while Green’s intensity has been out of control lately, resulting in a five-game suspension for an incident with Rudy Gobert and a near ejection for mocking the officials in Tuesday’s game. O’Connor’s recommendation is for the Warriors to shake up their roster with a trade, using Chris Paul‘s salary and some of their young talent. He suggests targets such as the RaptorsPascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, the BullsAlex Caruso, the WizardsKyle Kuzma, or possibly Lauri Markkanen from the Jazz or Kawhi Leonard or Paul George from the Clippers if those teams continue to struggle.
  • Golden State could be heading toward a difficult place with Thompson if he can’t shake his early-season slump, observes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. Thompson has an expiring contract, and if he can’t prove that he’s worth the four-year, $220MM extension that he reportedly expects, his only choices next summer will be to either leave the Warriors or re-sign for significantly less.
  • A pair of injuries added to the team’s woes in Tuesday’s loss, notes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Paul was ruled out with lower left leg soreness shortly after halftime, and Gary Payton II hobbled to the locker room with a right calf injury late in the third quarter.

Eastern Rumors: Nets, Quickley, Hawks, Hayward, Martin

Executives around the NBA continue to monitor Nets forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, who were considered trade candidates during the offseason, writes Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Rival executives believe Brooklyn will seek the equivalent of two first-round picks for Finney-Smith, though they hope that cost will drop closer to the deadline, according to Scotto, who adds that some execs who spoke to HoopsHype think the Nets would want a protected first-round pick for O’Neale. Finney-Smith still has multiple years left on his contract, while O’Neale is on an expiring deal.

Teams are also eyeing Nic Claxton and are curious to see whether Brooklyn is willing to roll the dice on re-signing him as an unrestricted free agent next summer, since he won’t become extension-eligible before then. For now, the Nets view Claxton as part of their core and wouldn’t be inclined to move him unless they get an offer that blows them away, Scotto explains.

Finally, some NBA executives think that veteran guard Spencer Dinwiddie might be available on the trade market later this season — and they think he’d have some value. “Dinwiddie can help a team and make big shots,” one exec told Scotto.

Scotto has more trade rumors and notes from around the Eastern Conference. Let’s dive in…

  • Rival teams are keeping an eye on whether or not the Knicks will make Immanuel Quickley available, according to Scotto, who says the guard was seeking about $25MM per year on a rookie scale extension before the season, while New York offered approximately $18MM annually. “I think Quickley might be New York’s best trade asset besides Jalen Brunson,” one league executive told HoopsHype.
  • The Hawks still have some trade interest in Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, says Scotto. De’Andre Hunter and Clint Capela were mentioned during the offseason as possible trade candidates for Atlanta and Scotto believes one or both players could be available again before February’s deadline. However, the Mavericks‘ interest in Capela has diminished due to the strong play of rookie Dereck Lively, Scotto notes.
  • Multiple “playoff-caliber” teams have been in touch with the Hornets to gauge the potential availability of veteran forward Gordon Hayward, per Scotto.
  • Scotto also reports that teams have expressed some exploratory interest in Sixers wing KJ Martin, who was part of the James Harden blockbuster earlier this month. Martin has played a limited role in Philadelphia but is coming off a solid year in Houston.

Gradey Dick Shoots Poorly In 905 Assignment

  • Raptors first-round pick Gradey Dick shot 6-for-33 over his first two games with the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League team. Dick, who has appeared in 15 NBA games, told Blake Murphy of Sportsnet he’s not worried about his shot. “My confidence hasn’t dwindled at all,” Dick said. “I mean, I’ll go take the next 10 shots, I don’t really care. Because I know me as a shooter, and it’s not any cockiness, but at the same time I think it’s positive cockiness. I’ve put in enough work off the court and I’m still doing it now where I have that confidence and trust.”

Schedule For NBA Tournament Non-Qualifiers Set

The NBA in-season tournament will reach the quarterfinal stage next week and the eight qualifiers and their seeds were finalized on Tuesday. The 22 teams that failed to advance had two holes in their schedules that needed to be filled.

Those matchups were determined late Tuesday evening, with each team receiving a home and away contest, NBA Communications tweets. The newly-scheduled games will take place next Wednesday (December 6) and Friday (Dec. 8).

The Cavaliers and Magic, who missed the quarterfinals despite their 3-1 tournament records, will face each other in Cleveland on Wednesday. Cleveland will then visit the Heat (2-2 tournament) on Friday.

The Nets, who also had a 3-1 tournament record, wound up with a road game against the Hawks (1-3) and home game against the Wizards (0-4)

The Sixers, who finished 2-2 in the tournament, drew a road game against the Wizards and a home game against the Hawks.

In the West, the Timberwolves were the only 3-1 tournament team that didn’t reach the quarterfinals. They’ll host the Spurs (0-4) and visit the Grizzlies (0-4).

The defending champion Nuggets will visit Los Angeles to face the Clippers (1-3), then head home to take on the Rockets (2-2). The Warriors, who were knocked out of contention by Sacramento on Tuesday, drew a home game against the Trail Blazers (1-3) and a road contest against the Thunder (1-3).

Here’s the full schedule for next Wednesday and Friday:

Wednesday, Dec. 6

  • Orlando at Cleveland
  • Memphis at Detroit
  • Miami at Toronto
  • Philadelphia at Washington
  • Brooklyn at Atlanta
  • San Antonio at Minnesota
  • Charlotte at Chicago
  • Oklahoma City at Houston
  • Utah at Dallas
  • Portland at Golden State
  • Denver at LA Clippers

Friday, Dec. 8

  • Toronto at Charlotte
  • Detroit at Orlando
  • Atlanta at Philadelphia
  • Washington at Brooklyn
  • Cleveland at Miami
  • Minnesota at Memphis
  • Golden State at Oklahoma City
  • Chicago at San Antonio
  • Houston at Denver
  • LA Clippers at Utah
  • Dallas at Portland

Two more regular season games will be added to the NBA’s schedule after the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament are complete, since the four teams that lose those matchups will require an 82nd game on their respective schedules.

Siakam Thriving With More Postups

  • Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, who will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer, is being posted up more by the new coaching staff and it’s working, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes. He’s posting up nearly 17% of his possessions, compared to just 10.3% of his possessions last season. According to NBA.com, Siakam is shooting 60.9% on his post-up attempts. “It’s a natural progression of our team. We’re not forcing any post-ups, we’re not calling plays to post up. But if there’s a mismatch in transition or him recognizing that he can get it down there, we’ll take it,” coach Darko Rajakovic said.

Pistons Notes: Ivey, Williams, Burke, Potential Trades

The Pistons‘ offseason coaching change and Cade Cunningham‘s return from injury have resulted in a new role for second-year guard Jaden Ivey, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Ivey was used as a starter as a rookie and was given the freedom to handle the ball and create plays. He’s started just three of the 12 games he’s played under new coach Monty Williams and he’s being asked to adjust to playing off the ball.

“Every day is a new opportunity,” Ivey said. “Just be the best version of yourself. Nothing that I want in life is going to be easy. I’m going to have to work for everything. That’s the mindset I want to carry every single day is that I’m going to work hard for all the things I want in life. Let God take of everything. Just continue to work, put my head down. Nothing is easy in this league.”

The Pistons targeted Ivey to be an important part of their future when they selected him with the fifth pick in the 2022 draft, and Williams stressed that the organization’s view of him hasn’t changed. Ivey’s athleticism combined with an ability to finish at the basket and an effective three-point shot make him difficult to defend. Williams is urging him to be patient and is impressed by how he’s adjusting to the new role.

“He’s a developing player with a lot of talent,” Williams said. “He’s got his head in there every day, learning and growing in a new system. It’s Year 2, second coach, that can be a lot on anybody. I’ve enjoyed his spirit. He hasn’t run from all the stuff (that) has been new and sometimes overwhelming.”

There’s more from Detroit:

  • The Pistons will tie a franchise record with 14 straight losses if they can’t beat Washington tonight, per Mike Curtis of The Detroit News. Williams said he wasn’t aware that the team is danger of reaching the record, as he’s been more concerned with player development and trying to eliminate the mistakes that are causing the team to lose.
  • Williams provided an update on assistant coach Dan Burke, who has been away from the team since October 30, Curtis adds. Williams said he couldn’t provide any details because it’s a “personal situation,” but he confirmed that Burke is still part of the coaching staff.
  • The Pistons aren’t in the market for a “panic trade,” league and team sources tell James L. Edwards III of The Athletic, but he talked to a few of his colleagues about the kind of deals the front office might pursue if things don’t change. He considers potential trades with the Warriors involving Andrew Wiggins, the Raptors involving OG Anunoby and the Knicks to get back their first-round draft pick, which is top-18 protected in 2024.

Raptors Notes: Temple, Dick, Trent, Offense

Appearing on The Raptors Show with William Lou (audio link), veteran guard Garrett Temple said he had a preexisting relationship with Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri prior to this offseason, and that the two men exchanged numbers “as friends” during a 2018 event in South Africa. When Temple was waived by New Orleans this past July, Toronto was the first team to reach out to express interest in him.

“(Head coach) Darko (Rajakovic) called, told me he’d admired me from afar. Then I talked to (general manager) Bobby (Webster) and Masai,” Temple said. “They told me they wanted me to be a veteran leader, to be a guy that’s ready to play whenever my name is called, but first and foremost, be a guy that can be a good influence on the players here, show them what professionalism is. That’s what I’m trying to do every day.”

Temple has never been the sort of player who fills up a stat sheet, but he has long been valued for his on-court smarts, his defensive versatility, and his leadership in the locker room. The 14-year veteran has appeared in just five games for the Raptors so far this season, but has been effective when called upon, scoring 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 16 minutes of action.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • The Raptors assigned lottery pick Gradey Dick to the G League ahead of Saturday’s game vs. the Capital City Go-Go in order to get him more playing time than he’s getting with the NBA team, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. However, Dick struggled in his Raptors 905 debut, scoring just two points on 1-of-12 shooting and committing three turnovers while recording a single assist. It sounds like the No. 13 overall pick may remain with the 905 for Monday’s game, notes Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter links).
  • While the 2024 free agencies of Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby have stolen most of the headlines, the Raptors will also have to determine in the coming months what to do with Gary Trent Jr., who is on an expiring contract too. As Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, Trent’s value is difficult to gauge, given that his play on defense has been inconsistent, so it’s unclear at this point whether he’ll emerge as a deadline trade chip or if he has a decent chance to stick with Toronto beyond this season.
  • The Raptors’ half-court offense, which has ranked near the bottom of the league in recent years, seemed to still be a problem at the start of this season, but the club has shown some encouraging signs offensively as of late, Grange notes at Sportsnet.ca. Although Toronto is still only 17th in overall offensive rating and has struggled against some top defenses, the team is making good on Rajakovic’s desire to pass more, ranking second in the NBA with 28.8 assists per game.

In-Season Tournament Updates: Pacers Clinch Top-Two Seed, Six Teams Eliminated

The Nuggets, Bulls, Raptors, Thunder, Clippers and Mavericks were all eliminated from the NBA’s inaugural in-season tournament in the group stage following Friday’s game results, marking 12 total teams out of contention.

The Pacers and Lakers remain the only two teams to clinch spots in the quarterfinals so far, with six more spots up for grabs. The final day of group stage play is Tuesday, Nov. 28 and the quarterfinals will take place on Dec. 4 and 5.

ESPN’s Tim Bontemps took a look at all the action from Friday, which featured numerous upsets that set the stage for some interesting scenarios to play out. By beating Detroit on Friday, Indiana won East Group A and guaranteed a top-two seed in the Eastern Conference. The BucksHeat game on Tuesday dictates who earns the top overall seed in the East. If the Bucks win, Milwaukee is the conference’s top seed, but if Miami wins, it will be the Pacers. A Miami loss eliminates the Heat.

If the Heat and Knicks win, there will be a three-way tiebreaker between Miami, Milwaukee and New York that is determined by point differential. In that scenario, the Heat would have to beat the Bucks by eight more points than the Knicks beat the Hornets on Tuesday in order to have a chance.

Orlando defeated Boston on Friday, meaning the Magic‘s chances of winning East Group C are bolstered. With the Raptors and Bulls eliminated, the Celtics, Magic and Nets are competing for that group.

The Suns‘ win over Memphis in their final group stage game helped them take steps toward securing a wild-card spot, finishing their games at 3-1 with a plus-34 point differential. The Lakers play in West Group A alongside the Suns and, given the wild card team plays the top seed, it’s likely they’ll face off against each other in the quarterfinals. The only way the Lakers don’t earn the West’s top seed is if the Kings beat the Warriors on Tuesday by 46 or more points.

West Group B got shaken up with the Rockets upsetting and eliminating the Nuggets on Friday, and the Pelicans are now the runaway favorite to win the group, according to Bontemps. The Pelicans beat the Clippers, eliminating them, and improving to 3-1. The Pelicans are not in front of the Suns for the wild card spot and will need the Rockets to lose in order to clinch the group.

The Kings are looking like a top contender for the tournament title, sitting at 3-0 and plus-29. If the Kings beat the Warriors on Tuesday, they advance. If both Sacramento and Minnesota lose, the Warriors win the group. If both Golden State and Minnesota win, it sets up a three-way tie to be decided by point differential. The Warriors are plus-5 and the Timberwolves are minus-3.

Any team that makes the quarterfinals clinches per-player bonuses worth at least $50K. The value of those bonuses would increase to $100K if they advance to the semifinals, $250K if they make the final, and $500K if they win the entire tournament.

The full in-season tournament standings can be found here.

Kobi Simmons Signs G League Contract, Joins Raptors 905

Veteran NBA guard Kobi Simmons has signed a G League contract and is joining the Raptors 905, who acquired his returning rights earlier this week, according to Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link).

Simmons, 26, appeared in 32 games for the Grizzlies as a rookie back in 2017/18 after going undrafted out of Arizona. He hasn’t played much in the NBA since then, having spent most of his career either in the G League or overseas (he played in Poland in 2021/22).

However, in addition to a single appearance with the Cavaliers in 2018/19, Simmons suited up for the Hornets in five games near the end of last season. He signed a two-way contract with Charlotte in March, then was elevated to the standard roster in April during the final week of the regular season. Simmons’ contract with the Hornets covered ’23/24 too, but his salary was non-guaranteed and he was waived prior to training camp.

Simmons averaged 19.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in 33.7 minutes per game (46 games) and had a shooting line of .489/.381/.810 with the Greensboro Swarm, Charlotte’s G League affiliate, last season. The Swarm traded his rights to Toronto’s affiliate on Wednesday in exchange for the rights to Sterling Brown and Gabe Brown.

While the Raptors now control Simmons’ G League rights, he remains an NBA free agent and could sign with any team if he gets an offer.

Raptors Notes: Barnes, Roster, Siakam, Young, Achiuwa

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes has playing his best pro basketball yet for Toronto this season, but the club still needs to determine how to maximize his unique skill set, opines Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.

Grange notes that Barnes has shown marked growth following an at-times disengaged sophomore season in 2022/23. Barnes’ multifaceted game and positional flexibility make him an intriguing young star in the making, albeit one who needs well-curated help to flourish.

“[His versatility] is good but at the same time it’s a problem because he has so many traits, so many things that he can do on a higher level,” head coach Darko Rajakovic said.

Through 15 games this season, Barnes is averaging 19.7 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 5.7 APG, 1.7 SPG and 1.3 BPG.

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • Former Raptors GM Jeff Weltman was let out of his contract with Toronto in order to assume the mantle of Magic team president in 2017. In the intervening seasons, it’s become clear that Weltman is taking a lot of the lessons he learned under the tutelage of Raptors president Masai Ujiri to heart, writes Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. Murphy sees several parallels between the constructions of both rosters. When drafting, both teams prioritize size and length, forgoing normal conceptions of position in favor of athletes with epic wingspans. That said, Eric Koreen of The Athletic opines that the Raptors’ forwards aren’t getting enough personnel help elsewhere from the front office.
  • When the Raptors appeared to be slipping early in the 2023/24 season, All-Star power forward Pascal Siakam did his best to steer the club away from a possible return to the bad vibes of last year’s lottery team, writes Koreen in a separate piece. Siakam’s aggressive and prolific play has helped paper over some careless in-game errors from his teammates, Koreen notes.
  • Raptors forwards Thaddeus Young and Precious Achiuwa are both questionable to play in Friday’s matchup against the Bulls, reports Murphy (Twitter link). Young has an illness, while Achiuwa is dealing with a knee injury.