Raptors Rumors

And-Ones: Playoff Format, Billups, Future Power Rankings

Don’t expect LeBron James to be among those lobbying on behalf of a potential play-in tournament for a postseason berth. The NBA has reportedly kicked the idea around in a couple different variations, but James said today that he’s not a fan of the concept, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com details.

“No, no, no,” James said. “That’s wack. That’s wack. Why? You got to earn your spot to be in the postseason. No consolation for finishing last. That’s corny. That’s corny. That’s wack. To play for what? What are they playing for?”

While there’s a belief in some league circles that a play-in tournament at the end of the regular season to determine the seventh and eighth seeds in each conference would generate some drama, James is a firm believer that the eight teams with the best records in each conference deserve to make the playoffs.

“[Make the playoffs by winning the tournament], even if my record is better than yours? Nah, that’s wack,” James said.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Appearing on ESPN’s The Jump on Tuesday, Chauncey Billups called a report about the Pistons expressing interest in him for a front office role “100% false,” per Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “I haven’t spoken to anybody with the organization about the possibility,” Billups said. Still, this isn’t the first time Billups has been linked to a front office job — if the former NBA guard does land somewhere as an executive, former Pistons assistant GM George David would be a candidate to potentially join him, tweets Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press.
  • Nine NBA teams have been officially eliminated from the postseason. While the 2017/18 season has been a fairly forgettable one for those clubs, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer highlights some silver linings worth mentioning.
  • Over at ESPN.com (Insider link), Kevin Pelton and Bobby Marks have updated their future NBA power rankings, which consider each team’s outlook through the 2020/21 season. Unsurprisingly, the Warriors, Celtics, and Rockets still top their list, with the Sixers and Raptors jumping into the top five.

Stein: Magic Eyeing Raptors Assistant To Replace Vogel?

  • There’s a “widely held assumption” in coaching circles that the Magic will replace Frank Vogel, according to Stein, who identifies Nick Nurse, Rex Kalamian, and Jerry Stackhouse as possible targets for Orlando. All three of those coaches are in the Raptors organization, which is where Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman previously worked.

Nigel Hayes Assigned

  • The Raptors have assigned rookie forward Nigel Hayes to their G League affiliate, Raptors 905, in time for tonight’s game against the South Bay Lakers, per an official tweet from the team. Hayes, 23, has averaged 15.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 2.2 APG in 39 G League games so far this season.
  • Lakers rookie big man Thomas Bryant has been assigned to the South Bay Lakers in time for tonight’s game against Hayes and Raptors 905, the team announced today. Bryant, 20, has averaged 19.2 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 2.1 APG in 33 G League games this season.

Raptors Sign Nigel Hayes To Second 10-Day Deal

MARCH 16: The Raptors have officially signed Hayes to a second 10-day contract, the team announced in a press release.

MARCH 14: The Raptors are signing Nigel Hayes to another 10-day contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The team’s roster will remain at 15.

The Wisconsin product has appeared in two games for Toronto during his first 10-day deal, scoring a total of six points in six minutes of action.

Hayes played for the Lakers earlier this season on a 10-day contract. He didn’t see much action in Los Angeles, tallying just 11 minutes over two contests. He came to training camp with the Knicks, but the team waived him before the season began.

Hayes’ initial 10-day pact with Toronto will expire on Thursday night, so the club will make his second deal official at some point after that.

Hornacek Likes The Continuity In Toronto; Nigel Hayes Hopes To Stay

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek admires the continuity the Raptors have maintained in rising to the top spot in the East, writes Al Iannazzone of Newsday. Toronto’s All-Star backcourt of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry has been together for five seasons, along with center Jonas Valanciunas, and Dwane Casey has been the coach the whole time.

  • Raptors forward Nigel Hayes has spent the past year improving his outside shot to help his chances at sticking on an NBA roster, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. Questions about his shooting contributed to Hayes going undrafted out of Wisconsin, but he has hit 45% from long distance in the G League. He hopes to capitalize on his latest chance, a 10-day contract with Toronto. “When I’m out there on the court, when I’m given opportunity, I’m not only playing for them,” he said of the Raptors. “There’s 29 other [NBA] teams that are watching and seeing my improvements and what I can do, or how I can be an asset to their team.”

Miles Explains Why He Joined Raptors; 'Culture Reset' Paying Off

  • In an excellent piece for The Toronto Sun, Ryan Wolstat takes an in-depth look at C.J. Miles, who says he joined the Raptors last July because he viewed the club as a perfect fit for his priorities. “My first takes on any situation are: Will I be able to play well, will I fit there, what are they trying to do, are they trying to win? How is the organization? Other guys that played there, did they like it?” Miles said. “That’s what I’m looking at. And it checked off every box.”
  • Raptors president Masai Ujiri said last spring that the club required a “culture reset.” The team’s success this season can be attributed in strong part to that reset, writes Curtis Withers of The Canadian Press.

Dwane Casey Trusted To Remake Raptors Without Rebuild

  • With the Raptors holding the top spot in the Eastern Conference after overhauling their offense in the offseason, Dwane Casey is receiving some buzz for Coach of the Year. Seerat Sohi of SBNation.com describes how the franchise put its trust in Casey to remake the Raptors without a rebuild, while Lee Jenkins of SI.com delivers an in-depth profile of the veteran coach.

Raptors Sign Nigel Hayes To 10-Day Deal

MARCH 6: The Raptors have formally signed Hayes to a 10-day contract, according to the league’s official transactions log. According to Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link), head coach Dwane Casey didn’t rule out Hayes appearing in Tuesday’s game vs. Atlanta, but he doesn’t expect it to happen, pointing out that the rookie still has to learn the offense.

MARCH 5: The Raptors will fill their open roster spot by signing G League forward Nigel Hayes to a 10-day contract, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The move will give Toronto a full 15-man NBA roster.

Hayes, 23, signed a training camp contract with the Knicks last August, then was cut by New York before the regular season began. The former Wisconsin standout landed with the Westchester Knicks in the G League and has played very well for New York’s affiliate in his first professional season, averaging 16.1 PPG and 6.6 RPG on .450/.441/.744 shooting.

Hayes’ new deal with the Raptors will represent his second NBA stint — he signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers in January and appeared briefly in two games for L.A.

While it remains to be seen if Hayes will see any real action for the Raptors, the deal benefits the organization in another way, as Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic points out (via Twitter) — the Raptors 905 (26-17) are just behind Westchester (28-14) in the G League standings, so poaching Hayes bodes well for Toronto’s affiliate.

Of course, the move isn’t just about the G League playoff race for the Raptors. As Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun tweets, Hayes had a good workout for Toronto prior to last year’s draft, so the club has had its eye on the rookie for a while.