Raptors Rumors

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Conference Finals

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at some of the players currently in the conference finals:

DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors, 28, C (Down) — Signed to a one-year, $5.3MM deal in 2018
Cousins made a snap decision on the second day of free agency last July to bet on himself and chase a ring. There’s a very good chance he’ll get the latter; as for landing a big multi-year contract this summer, that’s a major question mark. He’s unlikely to play against Portland due to the quad injury he suffered in the opening round. There’s no guarantee he’d be back for the Finals. Cousins played well after returning from his one-year rehab for an Achilles tear but it’s fair to question whether the injuries will continue to pile up for the big man.

Seth Curry, Trail Blazers, 28, SG (Up) — Signed to a one-year, $2.8MM deal in 2018
Seeing the Curry brothers go at each other has added to the entertainment value of the conference finals. Seth didn’t fare so well in Game 1 (three points on 1-for-7 shooting) but he was a major factor in Game 2 with 16 points, including four 3-pointers, and four steals. After missing all of last season with a left leg injury, the less-heralded Curry has proven to be a valuable rotation player. The Pistons reportedly have him high on their list of free agent targets. They certainly won’t be alone — career 43.9% 3-point shooters tend to attract a crowd.

Marc Gasol, Raptors, 34, C (Down) – Signed to a five-year, $113.2MM deal in 2015
Gasol said earlier this month he’s undecided whether to exercise his $25.6MM player option. At this stage of his career, Gasol is probably more focused on being a good fit and feeling comfortable than his bank account. But he’d be losing many millions if he doesn’t opt in. Quite frankly, he’s no longer a $25MM player. More than half of his field-goal attempts in the playoffs have come from beyond the arc and he’s not making them. He shot 26.9% from deep against the Sixers in the conference semis and went 2-for-7 in Game 1 against the Bucks. He’s scored in single digits in 10 of 13 games this postseason.

Brook Lopez, Bucks, 31, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $3.4MM deal in 2018
Following a series of forgettable conference semifinal outings, Lopez blew up in Game 1 against Toronto. He piled up 29 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks to carry the Bucks to an early lead in the series. Lopez was arguably the biggest bargain in free agency last summer. He was an ideal fit for the Bucks’ high-powered attack as a ‘stretch five.’ His advanced defensive numbers this season were the best of his career. Milwaukee has other free agency concerns, most notably Khris Middleton, but re-signing Lopez should be a high priority as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lakers Have Interest In Kyle Lowry

  • Even if the Lakers can’t acquire Anthony Davis, there’s a sense that they’ll be active on the trade market, writes Deveney. The team has several potential targets in mind, with Bradley Beal at or near the top of that list, depending on whether the Wizards make him available. According to Deveney, Kyle Lowry may also be a target if the Raptors lose Kawhi Leonard in free agency and retool their roster. The Lakers like Derrick Favors too, Deveney adds. Favors could be either a free agent or trade target, depending on what the Jazz do with his $17.65MM team option.

    [SOURCE LINK]

2019 NBA Draft Picks By Team

While the Sixers and Celtics suffered disappointing losses in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and face uncertain futures, both teams can at least fall back on the fact that they’re still loaded with draft assets. Philadelphia and Boston are two of only three NBA teams – the Hawks are the other – that possess at least four picks in the 2019 NBA draft.

As our full 2019 draft order shows, there are five other teams that more than two selections in this year’s draft. On the other end of the spectrum, nine teams own just one pick in 2018, while two teams – the Nuggets and Rockets – don’t have any selections.

To present a clearer picture of which teams are most – and least – stocked with picks for the 2019 NBA draft, we’ve rounded up all 60 picks by team in the space below. Let’s dive in…

Teams with more than two picks:

  • Atlanta Hawks (5): 8, 10, 35, 41, 44
  • Philadelphia 76ers (5): 24, 33, 34, 42, 54
  • Boston Celtics (4): 14, 20, 22, 51
  • New Orleans Pelicans (3): 1, 39, 57
  • Charlotte Hornets (3): 12, 36, 52
  • Brooklyn Nets (3): 17, 27, 31
  • San Antonio Spurs (3): 19, 29, 49
  • Sacramento Kings (3): 40, 47, 60

Teams with two picks:

  • New York Knicks: 3, 55
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: 5, 26
  • Phoenix Suns: 6, 32
  • Chicago Bulls: 7, 38
  • Minnesota Timberwolves: 11, 43
  • Detroit Pistons: 15, 45
  • Orlando Magic: 16, 46
  • Indiana Pacers: 18, 50
  • Utah Jazz: 23, 53
  • Golden State Warriors: 28, 58
  • Los Angeles Clippers: 48, 56

Teams with one pick:

  • Memphis Grizzlies: 2
  • Los Angeles Lakers: 4
  • Washington Wizards: 9
  • Miami Heat: 13
  • Oklahoma City Thunder: 21
  • Portland Trail Blazers: 25
  • Milwaukee Bucks: 30
  • Dallas Mavericks: 37
  • Toronto Raptors: 59

Teams with no picks:

  • Denver Nuggets
  • Houston Rockets

Former NBA Exec Rob Babcock Passes Away

Former NBA executive Rob Babcock has passed away following a battle with pancreatic cancer, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link).

Babcock began his NBA career in 1987 when he joined the Nuggets as a scout. After a handful of stops, he began working for the Timberwolves, where he spent 12 years in the team’s front office, including the last two as Minnesota’s vice president of player personnel.

After his time with the Wolves, Babcock was hired as the Raptors‘ head of basketball operations in the spring of 2004, but lasted just a year and a half with the franchise before being let go in January 2006. He was tasked with trading away disgruntled star Vince Carter during his brief tenure as Toronto’s general manager.

Babcock later returned to the Timberwolves’ front office, serving first as a consultant and then as an assistant GM. He was eventually promoted to the role of vice president of basketball operations before being dismissed in May of 2016.

Chris Babcock and Nate Babcock, Rob’s sons, are currently employed by the Sixers and Nets, respectively.

We at Hoops Rumors send our condolences to Rob’s friends and family.

OG Anunoby Still Not Close To Returning

  • Raptors forward OG Anunoby is starting to get more active, but it’ll still be another week before he can get up close to full speed, head coach Nick Nurse said today (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of The Athletic). In other words, Anunoby – who is recovering from an appendectomy – sounds unlikely to play a real role in the Eastern Finals unless he’s able to get back near the end of the series.

Poll: NBA Conference Finals Predictions

After a pair of dramatic Game Sevens on Sunday, the matchups for this year’s NBA Conference Finals are set. The Warriors will face the Trail Blazers in the West, while the Bucks and Raptors will square off in the East.

While the Warriors’ presence in 2019’s final four is no surprise, the teams joining them there historically haven’t made a ton of deep postseason runs.

The Blazers, led by a backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, have made the playoffs for six straight years, but this is the first time this group has advanced to the Western Finals, and the first time any Portland team has made it that far since 2000. The last time the Blazers appeared in the Finals was in 1992, when Clyde Drexler‘s squad fell to Michael Jordan‘s Bulls. The franchise hasn’t won a title since 1977.

Like Portland, the Bucks haven’t appeared in the Eastern Finals in nearly two decades. In fact, coming into these playoffs, Milwaukee hadn’t won a single postseason series since 2001, when the club fell in the Eastern Finals to Philadelphia. The Bucks last appeared in the NBA Finals in 1974 and won their last – and only – championship in 1971.

While those title droughts are lengthy, Portland and Milwaukee can at least say they’ve won a championship. That’s not the case for the Raptors, who have never even appeared in the NBA Finals since entering the league in 1995. Toronto appeared in the Eastern Finals once before, in 2016, but has never gotten over the hump and represented the conference in the NBA Finals.

The Warriors, who have won three of the last four NBA titles, and the Bucks, who won an NBA-best 60 games and led the league in net rating this season, will enter the Conference Finals as the favorites. But it would be a mistake to write off the Blazers or the Raptors, who are battle-tested in this postseason after dispatching tough opponents in seven-game series. Kevin Durant‘s calf remains a question mark for Golden State, while Toronto’s veterans have significantly more playoff experience than the Bucks’ roster.

What do you think? Which two teams will end up meeting in this year’s NBA Finals?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to explain your predictions!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Poll: Which Teams Will Win Game 7?

The Sixers and Trail Blazers each won Game Six of their respective series on Thursday, pushing a pair of conference semifinals to a seventh and deciding game.

Both of those Game Sevens are scheduled to take place on Sunday, with the Sixers and Raptors set to tip off at 7:00 pm ET, while the Nuggets and Blazers will either play before or after, depending on whether a third Game Seven is required for Golden State and Houston.

For the 76ers and Raptors, there’s a ton at stake in Sunday’s Game 7. Each team made two huge trades this season, with Toronto acquiring Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green, and Marc Gasol, while Philadelphia landed Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris. Those franchise-altering deals were made with an NBA Finals appearance in mind, so neither club would be happy with a second-round exit.

It has been hard to know what to expect from the Raptors and Sixers from game to game, as players like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Kyle Lowry, and Gasol have looked great in one outing, then all but disappeared in the next. The fact that Game 7 will take place in Toronto should offer the Raptors an advantage. Through six games, the Raps have a +14.7 net rating at home, compared to their -8.7 mark on the road.

Home court advantage could also be crucial over in the West, as the Nuggets posted an NBA-best 34-7 record during the regular season in the Mile High City. The club hasn’t been invincible in Denver during the postseason, losing a home game in each of the first two rounds. But the difference between the Nuggets’ net rating at home (+9.2) and on the road (-3.2) vs. Portland is stark.

Although the Sixers and Blazers will go on the road as underdogs, it would be dangerous to write them off. Both teams have superstars who are capable of taking over games and single-handedly turning a potential loss into a win.

What do you think? Will the Raptors and Nuggets protect their home courts and advance to the final four? Or will will see stars like Embiid and Damian Lillard come up big and push their teams through to the conference finals?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your two cents!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Community Shootaround: Better Match-Up For Bucks?

The Eastern Conference Finals are halfway set, with the No. 1 seed Bucks set to face the winner of the Raptors/Sixers series. And while the Bucks ended up making quick work of the Celtics after losing Game 1 of that series, the match-up against Toronto or Philadelphia figures to be much more difficult.

The series between the Raptors and Sixers is now tied 3-3, and both teams have shown promise as a potential NBA Finals participant during stretches this postseason. Kawhi Leonard is having an all-time great postseason, while both Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid (when ostensibly healthy) have played great games.

Milwaukee took two of three contests from the Sixers this season, splitting the match-ups in Wisconsin and winning in Philly, while the Raptors lost their regular season series to the Bucks 3-1 (split in Milwaukee with the Bucks winning both contests in Toronto).

So, based on the above and any other factors you may consider, which match-up do you think would be the most compelling? Would either of the series go the full seven games? Could there be a sweep? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Draft Notes: Zion, Norvell, Ponds, Tinkle

There’s a ton at stake this offseason for many of the teams involved in next week’s draft lottery, but there’s plenty at stake for consensus top prospect Zion Williamson as well. As ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, Mike Schmitz, Kevin Pelton, and Bobby Marks outline in an Insider-only article, not every team that has a shot at Williamson would be an ideal fit for him.

In the view of ESPN’s insiders, the Hawks, Mavericks, and Pelicans would be the most preferable landing spots for Williamson. The opportunity to play with up-and-coming play-makers – Trae Young in Atlanta, or Luka Doncic in Dallas – would help unlock Williamson’s potential.

On the other hand, ESPN’s panel doesn’t consider the Lakers, Bulls, and Sixers great fits for Williamson. Spacing is the primary concern for the Lakers and Sixers, and it’s unclear how a pairing with Joel Embiid would work. For the Bulls, Zach LaVine‘s ball dominance and Jim Boylen‘s “outdated” offense are viewed as red flags.

Here are several more draft-related notes:

  • Gonzaga sophomore guard Zach Norvell Jr. told reporters today that he intends to keep his name in the 2019 NBA draft, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Norvell was one of 66 prospects announced on Wednesday as a 2019 draft combine participant.
  • St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds, another one of those 66, has workouts lined up with the Warriors, Bulls, Kings, Jazz, Celtics, and Mavericks, tweets Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Ponds is ranked as the No. 51 prospect on ESPN’s big board.
  • After working out for Utah and Philadelphia, Oregon State forward Tres Tinkle has auditions this week with the Raptors, Celtics, and Hornets, and will work out for the Hawks next week, writes Nick Daschel of The Oregonian.
  • After turning in an impressive performance at the Portsmouth Invitational, forward Jarrell Brantley (Charleston) has workouts lined up with 10 teams, including the Celtics, Nets, Timberwolves, Hornets, and Clippers, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv.

Kyler: Raptors Optimistic About Re-Signing Kawhi

Echoing what we heard from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski earlier this week, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes that the Raptors are optimistic about having a legit shot to re-sign Kawhi Leonard.

While they’ll face competition from the Clippers – and likely a handful of other teams – the Raptors feel as if they’ve done all they can to gain Leonard’s trust and to make sure he understands what the future could look like if he returns, according to Kyler. That doesn’t mean Leonard won’t take meetings with other teams, or that he’s a lock to re-sign, but Toronto is at least viewed as one of the two frontrunners for the star forward, along with the Clips.