Raptors Rumors

Wizards Close To Naming Tommy Sheppard As GM

The Wizards will promote interim GM Tommy Sheppard to the position on a permanent basis, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. The contract details are still being worked out but an official announcement could come within the next week, Katz adds. The news is affirmed by the Washington Post’s Candace Buckner.

The hiring of Sheppard, 50, would end a long and strange journey since the team fired longtime GM Ernie Grunfeld just before the end of the regular season. Sheppard has been in charge since April 2.

During the search, the Wizards reportedly made at a run at Raptors top executive Masai Ujiri, though owner Ted Leonsis later denied that he asked permission to speak with Ujiri. Washington also made an offer to Tim Connelly, but the executive chose to remain with the Nuggets as their team president.

The team also interviewed Gersson Rosas, who is now running the Timberwolves, along with Danny Ferry and Troy Weaver.

Raptors Sign Matt Thomas To Three-Year Deal

JULY 19: The Raptors have officially signed Thomas, according to NBA.com’s transactions log. As we relayed in a separate post, his three-year, minimum-salary deal is said to include two fully guaranteed seasons.

JULY 1: EuroLeague guard Matt Thomas has agreed to a three-year contract with the Raptors, according to Varlas Nikos of Eurohoops.net (Twitter link). The total amount of the deal is $4.2MM, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

While the deal looks like it will be worth the minimum, the Raptors will use a slice of their mid-level exception to sign Thomas. Without the MLE, the team couldn’t have offered more than two years.

Thomas exercised an NBA opt-out clause in his contract with Valencia Basket of Spain’s Liga ACB in order to make the jump. The 6’5” Thomas, 24, played college ball at Iowa State.

He went undrafted in 2017 and played on the Lakers’ summer league team, then played in Spain for Monbus Obradoiro. He signed a two-year deal with Valencia last summer. He appeared in 29 games last season, averaging 11.4 PPG in 20.3 MPG. He was the team’s best 3-point shooter, knocking down 48.5% from long range, a skill which made him desirable to NBA teams.

Kyle Lowry Undergoes Procedure On Injured Thumb

Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry has undergone a procedure to repair a tendon injury in his left thumb, a league source tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, the recovery process isn’t expected to be particularly lengthy — Lowry is hoping to be ready to participate in Team USA’s training camp next month and the 2019 FIBA World Cup in September.

[RELATED: Team USA Announces 20-Man Camp Roster For World Cup]

As Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca notes (via Twitter), Lowry dealt with the thumb issue for most of the postseason and had a hard time gripping the ball with his left hand. The 33-year-old was always expected to address the injury – which was reported during the NBA Finals as a ligament tear – during the offseason.

Despite battling the thumb injury, Lowry helped lead the Raptors to their first-ever championship, averaging 15.0 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 4.9 RPG with a .439/.359/.802 shooting line in 24 playoff contests. He’ll enter a contract year in 2019/20 before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer.

Raptors Sign Rondae Hollis-Jefferson To One-Year Deal

JULY 18: The Raptors have officially signed Hollis-Jefferson, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 8: Hollis-Jefferson’s deal with the Raptors will be worth the minimum, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic.

JULY 7: Free agent forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will join the Raptors on a one-year deal, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Hollis-Jefferson, 24, spent the first four years of his NBA career in Brooklyn after being selected with the 23rd overall pick in 2015. While he’s a strong defender and can make some plays on offense, his shooting percentages bottomed out in 2018/19, as he made just 41.1% of his attempts from the floor and 18.4% from beyond the arc in 59 games.

Hollis-Jefferson never appeared to be in the Nets’ long-term plan, as the franchise previously withdrew his qualifying offer and renounced his rights, making him an unrestricted free agent. RHJ will have an opportunity to rebuild his stock and hit the market again next summer.

Since losing Kawhi Leonard (and Danny Green), Toronto has focused on adding younger wings with potential upside on low-cost deals. In addition to Hollis-Jefferson, the team agreed to sign former top-10 pick Stanley Johnson.

The Raptors also agreed to a three-year deal with Matt Thomas, which will use part of the team’s mid-level exception. Depending on the value of Hollis-Jefferson’s new contract, he could also be signed using some of Toronto’s MLE.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raptors To Sign Devin Robinson

The Raptors have agreed to sign free agent wing Devin Robinson to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract, reports Blake Murphy of The Athletic (via Twitter). It’s not clear if it will be an Exhibit 10 deal, but it sounds like it could be.

Robinson spent the last two seasons on a two-way contract with the Wizards. He appeared in seven games for Washington in 2018/19, averaging 6.7 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 13.6 minutes per contest. The 24-year-old saw more frequent action for the Capital City Go-Go in the G League, recording 19.9 PPG and 8.2 RPG in 22 games (34.4 MPG) last season.

Robinson’s time in D.C. came to an abrupt end in April when he was arrested following a fight with NFL player Jalen Mills outside a Washington nightclub. The Wizards quickly announced that the former Florida Gator wouldn’t be back with the team, and he became an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Based on the current make-up of the Raptors’ roster, Robinson will have an uphill battle to earn a spot on the regular season squad. The team is only carrying 12 players with fully guaranteed salaries, but Cameron Payne and Dewan Hernandez will have partial guarantees, and Chris Boucher and Malcolm Miller (both non-guaranteed) are also candidates to return.

Cameron Payne, Raptors Agree To Deal

The Raptors have reached an agreement with Cameron Payne, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the free agent point guard is signing a two-year contract with Toronto.

Payne’s new deal won’t be fully guaranteed. According to Charania (via Twitter), the former lottery pick will get a partial guarantee in year one and will have an opportunity to compete for a reserve point guard spot with the Raptors.

Payne, who turns 25 next month, was the 14th overall pick in the 2015 draft. However, he has bounced around the league since then, having spent time with the Thunder, Bulls, and Cavaliers in his first four NBA seasons.

In 153 total regular season games, the former Murray State standout has averaged 6.0 PPG and 2.5 APG with a .397/.331/.775 shooting line. He did have a strong Summer League showing in Las Vegas this month though, recording 20.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 2.7 SPG while shooting 51.4% from the floor in three games for Dallas.

Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet figure to handle point guard duties for the Raptors in 2019/20, but after trading Delon Wright at last season’s deadline and not re-signing Jeremy Lin in free agency, the team doesn’t have a ton of depth at the position. That lack of depth – and a partially guaranteed contract – should give Payne the upper hand in earning one of Toronto’s last few roster spots.

NBA, EuroLeague Teams Eyeing Dragan Bender?

The Cavaliers and Raptors are among the teams that have inquired on free agent power forward Dragan Bender, tweets international reporter Orazio Cauchi. According to Cauchi, EuroLeague clubs like CSKA Moscow and Fenerbahce are also keeping an eye on Bender and have “some level of interest.”

Bender, 21, was the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft and spent the last three seasons with the Suns. However, he has failed to develop into a regular rotation player, averaging 5.3 PPG and 3.8 RPG with a .394/.321/.647 shooting line in 171 games in Phoenix.

A source tells Cauchi (Twitter link) that there some NBA teams still believe Bender’s potential could be worth a roll of the dice. At this point though, the young big man seems unlikely to receive more than minimum-salary offers, and even then, it’s not clear he’d get any sort of guarantees.

If Bender had played out his rookie contract, he would have been on track to earn a $5.9MM salary in 2019/20. The Suns turned down their fourth-year team option though, allowing the Croatian to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Contract Details For Dewan Hernandez

  • The three-year, minimum-salary contract for Raptors second-round pick Dewan Hernandez has a $500K partial guarantee on year one, and is non-guaranteed for years two and three, tweets Siegel.

Several Teams Interested In Kosta Koufos

The Kings would like to re-sign free agent center Kosta Koufos, but he has attracted preliminary interest from the Pistons, Raptors and Bucks as well, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Haynes suggests Koufos might remain on the market until the latter stages of free agency.

Koufos, 30, has spent the past four seasons in Sacramento, but has seen his role diminish as the team has added younger talent. He played just 42 games this year, averaging 3.7 points and 4.2 rebounds in 12 minutes per night.

Koufos is a traditional low-post center known for his defense and rebounding, but his inability to stretch the floor or hit free throws has limited his effectiveness.

A first-round pick by the Jazz in 2008, Koufos bounced around the NBA before landing a four-year deal with the Kings in 2015. He also spent time with the Timberwolves, Nuggets and Grizzlies.