Raptors Rumors

Stein’s Latest: Simmons, Sixers, NBPA Executive Director

The structure of Ben Simmons‘ contract may embolden him in his plans to hold out from the Sixers, Marc Stein of Substack writes in his latest newsletter. As Stein explains, Simmons received 25% of his 2021/22 salary on August 1 and will receive another 25% on October 1, meaning he’ll already have earned half of his $33MM salary for the season by the time the preseason starts.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons Adamant About Not Attending Camp, Not Playing For Sixers]

League rules permit the Sixers to assess substantial fines for each game he misses during his holdout (approximately $228K per game), but Stein suggests those fines won’t be docked from Simmons’ pay until November, after the first pay period of the regular season. If Simmons was on a more traditional payment schedule, those fines would be more costly, but it will take a while for them to put a dent into the $16.5MM he’ll already have earned this season.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Don’t expect the Sixers and Simmons to follow the blueprint that Al Horford and the Thunder or John Wall and the Rockets have, according to Stein. While those rebuilding teams were comfortable holding out their veteran players until they found a suitable trade partner, the 76ers continue to try to convince Simmons to report to training camp and have “zero interest” in reaching a mutual agreement to allow the three-time All-Star to remain away from the team, says Stein.
  • According to Stein, many of the teams that have engaged the Sixers in Simmons trade talks – including the Timberwolves, Raptors, Spurs, Cavaliers, and Kings – typically aren’t major players in free agency, and like the idea of securing a young impact player who is under contract for four years. However, most of those teams don’t have stars that would interest Philadelphia, or have made them unavailable in trade negotiations (such as the Wolves with Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, or the Kings with De’Aaron Fox).
  • The NBPA has enlisted Chicago-based search firm Heidrick & Struggles to help seek out a new executive director to replace Michele Roberts, according to Stein, who says that “well-placed observers” believe Roberts’ replacement could be an unexpected selection who hasn’t yet been publicly identified.
  • Stein, who previously named Malik Rose as a candidate to become the NBPA’s executive director, suggests Noah Croom, Arne Duncan, Nichole Francis Reynolds, Pat Garrity, and Mark Termini are other viable contenders for the job. Croom and Garrity are veteran team executives, Termini is a longtime player agent, and Duncan and Reynolds work outside of the NBA in education/politics and business, respectively.

Raptors Sign Reggie Perry

The Raptors have signed second-year forward Reggie Perry, per a team press release.

Financial details of the move were not disclosed, but Blake Murphy (formerly of The Athletic) tweets that it will be an Exhibit 10 contract for training camp. Exhibit 10 contracts can be converted into standard or two-way deals and give players like Perry the opportunity to earn bonuses worth up to $50K if they end up joining the club’s G League affiliate after being cut, which seems pretty likely in this case, as Murphy notes.

Both of the Raptors’ two-way contract slots are currently filled, so they would have to waive one of those players in order to convert Perry to a two-way contract. The signing of Perry means that the team’s 20-man training camp roster is now full.

The 57th overall pick in the 2020 draft, Perry played sparingly for the Nets as a rookie last season, seeing action in 26 games and posting averages of 3.0 PPG and 2.8 RPG in just 8.1 MPG.

He did post strong numbers for their G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, averaging 18.1 PPG, 8.9 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 28.8 MPG across 15 games. The team was reportedly high on the former SEC co-player of the year, and he definitely has a chance to make it back to the NBA at some point.

Atlantic Notes: Raptors, Sixers, Simmons, Horford

Having already received clearance to play their home games in Toronto in 2021/22 after spending last season in Tampa, the Raptors are now waiting to see whether the Ontario provincial goverment will allow them to play in front of full-capacity crowds at Scotiabank Arena, writes Kevin McGran of The Toronto Star.

Both the Raptors and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs – who share Scotiabank Arena – intend to only allow fully vaccinated individuals to attend games. They’re expecting to get an answer from government officials this week, per McGran.

“With a fully vaccinated venue, it is our belief that we can safely host a full capacity event,” MLSE spokesperson Dave Haggith said. “With tickets on sale, we are planning for eventual full capacity in 2021 and our ticketing rollout has built-in flexibility so we are ready for potential scenarios.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • With the Ben Simmons situation still unresolved, Rich Hofmann of The Athletic examines what the Sixers‘ rotation might look like in 2021/22 both with Simmons and without him. Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, and Furkan Korkmaz would receive the biggest minutes boosts if Simmons holds out and hasn’t yet been traded.
  • Jared Dubin of FiveThirtyEight considers what past trades of All-Stars can tell us about the Simmons situation. As Dubin outlines, pieces-and-picks packages are typically the most common returns for All-Star players, while the Sixers are seeking a star-for-star deal, increasing the degree of difficulty.
  • Al Horford‘s return to the Celtics means the team will be able to comfortably run out lineups featuring two big men again. Jared Weiss of The Athletic explains why that’s a good thing for Boston.

Scottie Barnes Writes Introduction To Raptors Fans

  • Rookie forward Scottie Barnes introduced himself to Raptors fans with a first-hand piece on The Players Tribune. The No. 4 overall pick out of Florida State states that he was quickly embraced by the Toronto fanbase and gained about 80-100K new followers on social media within 24 hours of being drafted. He shares experiences from Summer League and draft night and says there was one message he wanted to deliver in his first post-draft meeting with the Raptors’ front office. “I’m ready to work,” he wrote. “Not ease into it, not half-do things or make excuses because I’m one of the new guys. I’m ready to work. I’m ready to grind. I’m ready to WIN. And I could tell that the feeling was definitely mutual.”

Handful Of Players Could Vie For Three Spots

The Raptors have 12 players with guaranteed contracts and five others with non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed deals. Eric Koreen of The Athletic speculates on who might grab the remaining roster openings, with Yuta Watanabe and Freddie Gillespie most likely to nail down spots. That would leave Sam Dekker, Ishmail Wainright and Isaac Bonga in a battle for the final spot, unless Toronto chooses to carry 14 players on the regular roster.

Pascal Siakam Talks Trade Rumors, Shoulder Injury, More

Pascal Siakam was the subject of some trade rumors earlier in the NBA offseason, but the Raptors reportedly assured the forward and his camp that they weren’t looking to move him, and Siakam’s agent Todd Ramasar publicly stated that his client wasn’t looking to be moved.

Speaking to Sopan Deb of The New York Times, Siakam publicly weighed in on those trade rumors himself for the first time, suggesting that he envisions himself remaining in Toronto long-term. Siakam told Deb that he wasn’t irritated by the offseason rumors, since all the reports framed any trade discussions as teams pursuing him, rather than the Raptors shopping him.

“It didn’t bother me really, because I never really heard anything from the Raptors. Even all the news I was seeing it was never like: ‘Oh. The Raptors wanted to give up Siakam for this,'” he said. “It was always like, ‘The Warriors like Pascal,’ or it was always, ‘The Kings like Pascal,’ or this. There was never nothing where it was like, ‘The Raptors wanted to give away Pascal.'”

Siakam’s conversation with Deb touched on several other topics, including his rehab from shoulder surgery, his run-in with head coach Nick Nurse, and Kyle Lowry‘s departure from Miami. The Q&A is worth checking out in full, but here are some highlights:

On where he’s at in the rehab process:

“I’m shooting, ball handling. I think at this point in the process I look better than I thought I was expecting at least or I’m doing more than I thought I would do at that time.”

On his altercation with Nurse:

“I don’t think it was that bad… This is what happened: It was after a game. I’m just so frustrated. It’s like, ‘Oh, we’re losing and I’m just mad I didn’t play and I could’ve really helped my team.’ And we’re having a losing season and I think those things happen between a coach and a player.

“Obviously, I probably used language, uh, people use. It is what it is, but I don’t think it was such a big deal because after that situation happened, we talked. We are on good terms. It was just an argument. Literally one argument and like: ‘Oh, I’m mad at this. I’m yelling and this is it.’ That’s it. Grown men.”

On becoming one of the Raptors’ centerpieces following Kawhi Leonard‘s departure in 2019:

“For me at that point when I started becoming that person, I just felt like there wasn’t that much level of communication (from the team), to be honest. And that was the only thing really that I felt. It was like, ‘We got you the max contract, but are you the guy?’ I think that’s something that I was struggling with.

“Kyle was, to me, always the greatest Raptor of all time. I think he was always like, ‘I was the guy.’ I had the contract, but I never really felt like I was the guy, to be honest. … And I think those conversations are happening now.”

On his expectations for himself in 2021/22:

“I feel like when the season was ending, I was catching a rhythm, finally feeling good. ‘Man, I just had Covid. Lost 20 pounds.’ These are things that I was going through, and I feel like I’ve always gotten better in my eyes. And I think there’s another level that I can definitely get to. And for me, I definitely see myself as an All-Star. Potentially, wanting to be a most valuable player in the league one day. But for me, I do think that there’s definitely a lot more to unleash into my dream that’s going to take me to the next level.”

2021/22 NBA Over/Unders: Atlantic Division

The 2021/22 NBA regular season will get underway next month, so it’s time to start getting serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign and to resume an annual Hoops Rumors tradition.

With the help of the lines from a handful of sports betting sites, including Bovada and BetOnline, we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division. In a series of team-by-team polls, you’ll get the chance to weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.

In 2020/21, our voters went 17-13 on their over/under picks. Can you top that in ’21/22?

As a reminder, the NBA played a 72-game schedule in 2020/21, so a team that won 41 games last year finished with a 41-31 record. This year, a club that wins 41 games would be a .500 team (41-41). For added clarity, we’ve noted the record that each team would have to achieve to finish “over” its projected win total.

We’ll kick things off today with the Atlantic division…

Brooklyn Nets

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Nets poll.

Philadelphia 76ers

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Sixers poll.

Boston Celtics

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Celtics poll.

New York Knicks

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Knicks poll.

Toronto Raptors

Trade Rumors app users, click here for Raptors poll.

Atlantic Notes: DeRozan, Dragic, Celtics, Simmons

Knicks general manager Scott Perry had contemplated pursuing swingman DeMar DeRozan in free agency this summer, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. DeRozan eventually joined the Bulls through a three-year, $81.9MM sign-and-trade with San Antonio. The Knicks ultimately decided to add sharpshooting wing Evan Fournier on a four-year contract that could be worth up to $78MM.

The 28-year-old Fournier, who connected on 41.3% of his 6.7 three-point attempts per game for the Magic and Celtics last year, is potentially a cleaner offensive fit with the Knicks than the 32-year-old DeRozan would have been. DeRozan, a four-time All-Star while with the Raptors, is an excellent ball handler and an elite mid-range jump shooter, but lacks a reliable outside shot.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • The fate of new Raptors point guard Goran Dragic is one of the prime subjects of a detailed new mailbag with Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Koreen contends that, because Dragic is on an expiring $19MM deal, he may have value in a trade. Koreen adds that a buyout would only transpire if Toronto team president Masai Ujiri is unable to find a suitable trade partner for Dragic before the 2022 deadline. Koreen also addresses the team’s thinking in not extending offers to free agent centers Jarrett Allen and Richaun Holmes.
  • After undergoing some significant behind-the-scenes changes during the offseason, the Celtics also made some notable changes on the court. In a new article, Zach Harper of The Athletic recaps and grades the club’s summer. The club added point guard Dennis Schröder on a team-friendly one-year, $5.9MM deal. Boston also traded away oft-injured point guard Kemba Walker in exchange for former Celtics All-Star big man Al Horford. The team also moved on from swingman Evan Fournier, decided to take a flyer on 3-and-D wing Josh Richardson, and added former Boston reserve Enes Kanter to their forward and center rotations, respectively. Harper forecasts that Boston ultimately upgraded its roster and could become a threat in the East again.
  • With training camp fast approaching, it is quite possible that the Sixers will now be affected by an extended Ben Simmons holdout ahead of a blockbuster trade, Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice writes. If a deal can’t be reached before the preseason starts, Neubeck wonders if the rest of the club can deal with the drama. Neubeck opines that, should a teammate, coach, or executive besmirch Simmons to the media, it could adversely affect Philadelphia’s potential return package in a trade. Neubeck also speculates about how an on-court absence for Simmons could expand the roles of Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle.

Raptors Cleared To Return To Toronto For 2021/22

After spending the 2020/21 season playing their home games at Amalie Arena in Tampa due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Raptors will be returning home for the 2021/22 campaign.

The franchise’s preseason schedule, which was formally announced today, includes a pair of home games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. A team spokesperson confirmed to The Canadian Press (link via Sportsnet.ca) that the Raptors have received government clearance to play at home this season.

The move had been expected due to the widespread availability of COVID-19 vaccines in both the United States and Canada, as well as the loosening of restrictions at the border. Other Toronto-based sports franchises, including the Toronto Blue Jays (MLB) and Toronto FC (MLS), had resumed hosting U.S. teams at their respective home fields in recent months.

It remains unclear how many fans will be permitted to attend NBA games in Toronto to start the season, according to The Canadian Press. The Raptors’ spokesperson said the club is optimistic about holding full-capacity events at Scotiabank Arena, but those discussions are presumably ongoing.

The team spokesperson also stated that anyone entering Scotiabank Arena as a spectator or media member will be required to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination or proof of a medical exemption.

The Raptors’ first regular season home game will be on October 20 vs. Washington. It will be the first time the club has played a regular season game at Scotiabank Arena in nearly 20 months.