Toronto Raptors

Fred VanVleet Finding His Role

  • After going undrafted following a successful four-year college career at Wichita State, second-year guard Fred VanVleet is finding his niche with the Raptors as a fighter on the defensive end of the floor, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star“He’s a grinder, he’s a survivor, he’s a worker, he’s had to fight for everything he’s ever gotten in his life,” says head coach Dwane Casey. “He gets into the guys, he’s a little pitbull from that standpoint. He brings everything to the table that you need.”

Raptors Assign Caboclo, McKinnie To G League

Pascal Siakam's Energy Impacts Games

  • Second-year forward Pascal Siakam has made an impact on Raptors games with his relentless energy level, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes. “He don’t get tired,” teammate DeMar DeRozan says. “I don’t understand it. Y’all should see him before practice. He’s out there doing all types of drills, already sweating and everything. It’s crazy to see.

Shorthanded Raptors Recall McKinnie, Caboclo From G League

Delon Wright Dislocates Troublesome Shoulder

One month into his third NBA season and first as a regular member of the Raptors rotation, Delon Wright has dislocated his shoulder. As Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes, the guard suffered the injury in Thursday’s win over the Pelicans and will be out for an indefinite amount of time.

Wright had stepped up in the vacancy that Cory Joseph‘s free agency departure created. His 7.6 points and 2.6 assists per game were both career bests for the Raptors.

While there’s no guarantee that the 25-year-old will miss significant time for the Raptors, the injury comes on the same shoulder that he had surgery on in the summer of 2016, Josh Lewenberg of TSN says. In his first two NBA campaigns, Wright played just 27 games apiece.

A press release from the Raptors’ media relations department says that the next step for Wright will be to travel with the team to New York City next week for a special consultation.

Transition Defense Has Been Woeful

  • The Raptors’ offensive issues have led to poor transition defense, as Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes. The Raptors have made just 33.5% of their 3-point attempts while hoisting up an average of 31.1 per game. That leads to long rebounds and poor floor balance, a major reason why the Raptors rank 27th by allowing an average of 13.4 fast-break points per game, Smith adds.

2018 Salary Cap Outlook: Atlantic Division

NBA rosters will undergo some changes over the course of the 2017/18 season, particularly around the trade deadline, and those changes may have an impact on teams’ cap sheets for future seasons. Based on the NBA’s current rosters, however, we can identify which teams are most or least likely to have cap room in the summer of 2018, which will dictate the type of moves those clubs can make in the offseason.

We’ll be taking a closer look at each of the NBA’s 30 teams by division over the next week. Today, we’re starting with the Atlantic division. With the help of salary information compiled by Basketball Insiders, here’s how the summer of 2018 is shaping up for the five Atlantic teams:

Toronto RaptorsValanciunas vertical
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $124,628,430
Projection: Over the cap and into the tax

The Raptors have nearly $125MM in guaranteed money on their books for the 2018/19 season, easily the most of any Atlantic teams. If Toronto can’t clear any of that money of its cap, the club would almost certainly surpass the tax threshold, based on the latest cap projections from the NBA.

The most obvious way for the Raptors to create a bit of breathing room would be to find a taker for Jonas Valanciunas, who is due a $16.5MM salary next year. Still, Toronto has reportedly explored potential Valanciunas trades before and hasn’t found any viable options, so it won’t necessarily be easy for the Raps to move his salary. And even if they do, it would take more than that to get under the cap.

Boston Celtics
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $104,650,766
Projection: Over the cap

The Celtics currently project to be a little over a $101MM cap, and they’d go even further beyond that threshold if they want to re-sign Marcus Smart or Aron Baynes, or retain non-guaranteed players like Daniel Theis. Even if Boston is willing to let those players go, there’s no obvious path to carving out a chunk of cap room, so the C’s figure to be an over-the-cap team.

Brooklyn Nets
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $68,601,762
Projection: Up to approximately $28MM in cap room

Our cap projection for the Nets assume that the team hangs onto Spencer Dinwiddie, who has a non-guaranteed salary. However, it also assumes that Jeremy Lin will turn down his $12MM+ player option. Considering Lin will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, there’s actually a good chance that he’ll play it safe and pick up his player option rather than taking his chances on the open market. In that scenario, Brooklyn’s cap space would be cut nearly in half.

New York Knicks
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $68,004,397
Projection: Up to approximately $12MM in cap room

Why do we have the Knicks projected to have far less cap room than the Nets, despite both teams having nearly equal guaranteed salary? We’re assuming that Enes Kanter will exercise his $18MM+ player option for next season, as was reported back in August. Of course, nothing is official yet, and a big season for the Knicks could change the landscape for Kanter. But for now, it seems unrealistic to expect him to opt out.

New York’s projected cap room will be reduced further if Ron Baker and/or Kyle O’Quinn exercise player options of their own, which are worth about $4.5MM and $4.3MM, respectively.

Philadelphia 76ers
Guaranteed 2018/19 team salary: $56,928,155
Projection: Up to approximately $39MM in cap room

Even if we count on the Sixers exercising team options for T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes, the team should have a ton of flexibility. A Robert Covington extension would cut into that flexibility, but should still leave up to about $25MM in cap room. If the 76ers want to create enough space to sign a player to a maximum salary, finding a taker for Jerryd Bayless‘ expiring $8.6MM contract would likely be the first step.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Norman Powell Exits Game, Leaves Arena On Crutches

The Raptors may be without forward Norman Powell following Sunday’s matchup with the Celtics. A TSN report says that the third-year swingman left the arena on crutches after sustaining a hip pointer but no further details are available at this time.

In 11 games with the Raptors this season, the 24-year-old has averaged 9.0 points and 2.2 assists per game, both modest improvements over his 2016/17 figures.

Shortly after the conclusion of the game, one in which Powell played just seven minutes prior to the injury, the Raptors recalled Alfonzo McKinnie from their G League affiliate.

Raptors Recall Alfonzo McKinnie From 905

  • The Knicks announced (via Twitter) that they sent Ron Baker and Damyean Dotson back to the G League today, and the duo played major minutes in Westchester’s loss to the Raptors 905 this afternoon. Dotson scored 19 points for New York’s affiliate, while Baker chipped in 12.
  • The Raptors have recalled Alfonzo McKinnie from their G League affiliate, the team’s media relations department tweets. McKinnie has averaged 15.3 points and 7.7 rebounds per game for the Raptors 905 so far this season.
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