Raptors Rumors

Raptors Notes: Mitchell, Vezenkov, Agbaji, Diallo, Dick

The Raptors believe Davion Mitchell will bring a perimeter defensive presence they lacked last season, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN. The 25-year-old was acquired from the Kings in a trade on the second night of the draft to fill Toronto’s need for a backup point guard.

“I’m trying to bring leadership, defensive mindset, being that dog, just doing the little things on the floor,” Mitchell said. “Over my career playing basketball, every team that I’ve been on, the guy that’s on the ball brings that energy. I think that me putting pressure on the ball up top, a lot of people are gonna want to play just as hard. No one wants to stand out by not playing hard. So, me bringing that energy is going to show.”

Mitchell’s defensive prowess convinced Sacramento to select him with the ninth pick in 2021, but he struggled to find playing time in a crowded backcourt. Even though he appeared in 72 games last season, he dropped to a career-low 15.3 minutes per night and his other numbers declined across the board. The Kings were looking to unload his contract to provide cap relief, and Toronto welcomed the opportunity to increase its toughness level on defense.

“It’s not just about him, it’s all the guys,” coach Darko Rajakovic said. “Everybody has to step up. We’re working a lot during the summer to really improve on-ball defense, aggressiveness. We’re really, really trying to – as you can see in the draft class as well – find as many possible two-way guys. We call them the most important guy. Most important guy is the guy who’s guarding the ball. He makes it easier for everybody else. And we’re really trying to develop everybody on our roster to be able to do a better job.”

There’s more on the Raptors:

  • Toronto hasn’t resolved the situation regarding Sasha Vezenkov, who was acquired from Sacramento in the same trade, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet. Vezenkov reportedly reached a deal with Olympiacos in Greece, but there’s one year left on his NBA contract, plus a team option for 2025/26. “We’re still having that conversation,” team president Masai Ujiri said today on a broadcast of the Raptors’ Summer League game. “He had a tough time in the NBA last year. We are trying to figure it out, and what he wants to do. The right decision will be made. … I think he’s a phenomenal player, had a tough season last season, those things happen, great shooter. Whatever happens, we’re going to make the best out of this situation. We support him in every way and we know where our team is going. So hopefully soon.”
  • Even though it’s somewhat rare for former lottery picks with two full years of experience to participate in Summer League, Ochai Agbaji and Raptors officials both believed it would be beneficial, per Lewenberg (Twitter link). Agbaji appeared in 27 games with Toronto after being acquired from Utah in February.
  • The Raptors hosted a private scrimmage on Friday in Las Vegas that involved representatives of the Clippers, Trail Blazers and Rockets, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Iko hears that the standout performer was free agent swingman Hamidou Diallo, who played two games with Washington last season.
  • In an interview with Eric Koreen of The Athletic, Gradey Dick talks about the challenges of his rookie season.

Groups Revealed For 2024 NBA Cup

The NBA has announced the five-team groups for this year’s in-season tournament, now renamed the Emirates NBA Cup, the league announced in a release on Friday (Twitter link).

Like last year, there are six groups — three each from the Western Conference and Eastern Conference — and each conference was split into five groups based on last year’s standings. One team was selected at random from each group to determine the group round matchups.

The results are:

  • West Group A: Timberwolves, Clippers, Kings, Rockets and Trail Blazers
  • West Group B: Thunder, Suns, Lakers, Jazz and Spurs
  • West Group C: Nuggets, Mavericks, Pelicans, Warriors and Grizzlies
  • East Group A: Knicks, Magic, Sixers, Nets and Hornets
  • East Group B: Bucks, Pacers, Heat, Raptors and Pistons
  • East Group C: Celtics, Cavaliers, Bulls, Hawks and Wizards

The NBA Cup begins with group play, which runs from Nov. 12 to Dec. 3. Each team plays one game against each of the four opponents in its group. The NBA released a matchup matrix to help fans follow along (Twitter link).

Just like last season, the winner of each group advances to a knockout round alongside the team with the best record in each conference that didn’t win a group. The semifinals and finals will again be played in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Last year, the Lakers won the inaugural in-season tournament over the Pacers. LeBron James was named the tournament MVP after dropping 24 points in the title game.

The full game and broadcast schedule for group play will be announced next month.

Jontay Porter Pleads Guilty To Felony, Likely Facing Prison Time

Former Raptors big man Jontay Porter pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a federal felony charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, reports Jennifer Peltz of The Associated Press.

I know what I did was wrong, unlawful, and I am deeply sorry,” said Porter, who was released on a $250K bond signed by his mother and wife, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Porter’s sentencing is set for December 18 in New York.

Prosecutors estimated that Porter could receive 41 to 51 months in prison, but the final say will come from a judge, who could impose no time or up to a maximum of 20 years. The 24-year-old is also likely to be docked “hundreds of thousands of dollars in restitution and fines,” per Peltz.

Porter, who told the court he is in therapy and has received inpatient rehabilitation for a gambling addiction, was banned from the NBA in April following an investigation into betting-related irregularities.

Porter is tied to another federal case involving four men who are also charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The defendants are accused of profiting from prop bets based on the knowledge that Porter would exit a pair of games early. The complaint also alleges that Porter – who isn’t identified by name but fits the description of the player described – was supposed to receive a portion of the winnings. Porter was allegedly pressured by one of the defendants due outstanding gambling debts. The four defendants have yet to enter pleas.

In 26 games for Toronto in 2023/24, Porter averaged 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 13.8 minutes per night. He earned $415K last season while on a two-way contract with the Raptors.

Team Canada Finalizes 2024 Olympic Roster

The Canadian national team has formally announced its 12-man roster for the Paris Olympics, making its final cuts ahead of Wednesday’s exhibition games against Team USA.

Team Canada’s 12-man squad is as follows:

While the group obviously isn’t as star-studded as the U.S. roster, it’s headed up by a 2024 MVP finalist (Gilgeous-Alexander) and a guard who was the second-best player on the 2023 NBA champions (Murray). In total, it features 10 active NBA players, and all of them played regular roles for their respective teams in 2023/24.

The only two non-NBA players are Birch, who spent six seasons in the league but now plays in Spain, and Ejim, a former Iowa State standout and a Team Canada veteran who has been a productive contributor for several teams in Europe since 2014.

Andrew Wiggins is among the notable names missing from Team Canada’s squad for Paris. He was on the original training camp roster but withdrew right before camp began due to what the Warriors referred to a mutual decision. Various reports, however, suggested that Golden State was the party driving that decision.

Grizzlies rookie Zach Edey also removed his name from the training camp roster in order to focus on Summer League and his first NBA season.

Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe and Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin, both of whom were coming off injuries that ended their 2023/24 seasons, were among the players who attended training camp but weren’t in the mix for roster spots for the Paris Olympics. Timberwolves forward Leonard Miller was in that group too.

This will be the first time Canada has been in the men’s basketball event at the Olympics since 2000.

Eastern Notes: Fernandez, Fernando, Trent, Jokubaitis, Magic

The Nets agreed to trade Mikal Bridges just two months after they hired Jordi Fernandez, but Brooklyn’s new head coach said he wasn’t caught off guard by that move. As Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, moving Bridges was a scenario that had been discussed with Fernandez before he took the job.

“We know that we wanted to do something sustainable and we wanted to win and build something very special. There were different avenues to do it, and this was a possible one,” Fernandez said. “We just couldn’t control if something (big came), what other teams would offer, so we’d just have to sit and wait. And (general manager Sean Marks) had his different avenues to get there. When the opportunity presented itself, he called me. I knew before it came out to the media, and I was very excited because I know how the NBA works and I know how good you can get when you have assets, flexibility and so and so forth. So I’m just very excited.”

Marks also confirmed that he and Fernandez talked about the possibility of a Bridges trade, explaining that he wanted to make sure the head coach knew what he was getting into when he accepted the Nets’ offer.

“It’s very important to be upfront when you’re hiring a coach — or any staff member for that matter — for them to know there’s a variety of different pathways we can go down,” Marks said. “We knew the flexibility that we had in terms of the roster, the cap, the salaries that we have, this (outcome) could be one of them. We’re not going to shy away from that. So, he knew well ahead that this was an avenue that we could be going down and has bought in completely.”

Here are a few more notes from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Having already pushed back his salary guarantee date from June 29 to July 10, the Hawks are talking to Bruno Fernando‘s camp about postponing that deadline again, tweets Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Fernando has some incentive to give Atlanta more time with that decision if it increases his odds of remaining on the roster and earning his full $2.72MM salary for 2024/25.
  • Following up on reporting that suggested the Raptors had been willing to offer free agent wing Gary Trent Jr. a deal worth $15MM per year when their negotiating window first opened, Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link) clarifies that most conversations the team had about Trent were internal. The front office discussed potential contract frameworks rather than formally putting an offer on the table, Grange says, adding that the Raptors told Trent’s camp after the draft that they were going in a different direction.
  • Knicks draft-and-stash prospect Rokas Jokubaitis, the No. 34 overall pick in 2021, will be with New York’s Summer League team this month for the first time in three years, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Post. Jokubaitis, who is under contract with Barcelona for one more season, would have been unavailable for Summer League if Lithuania had qualified for the Olympics, but the Lithuanians fell to Puerto Rico in the qualifying tournament final on Sunday.
  • The Magic have quietly aced the offseason, according to Michael Pina of The Ringer, who wonders if Orlando is capable of becoming next season’s version of the 2023/24 Thunder and making the leap from solid team to one of the best in the conference.

Contract Details: Quickley, Barnes, Batum, Jones, CP3, Oubre, More

Initially reported to be worth $175MM over five years, Immanuel Quickley‘s new contract with the Raptors actually has a base value of $162.5MM, according to Blake Murphy of Sportsnet (Twitter link). It also features $12.5MM in unlikely incentives – $2.5MM per year – that would allow the guard to max out at $175MM if he earns all of them. But for now the cap hits for Quickley will be $32.5MM annually.

Meanwhile, the “Rose rule” language in Scottie Barnes‘ new five-year, maximum-salary extension with the Raptors is fairly straightforward, Murphy notes (Twitter link). Barnes will have a starting salary worth 30% of the 2025/26 salary cap if he makes any All-NBA team – first, second, or third – next season, or if he wins MVP or Defensive Player of the Year. If he doesn’t earn any of those honors, his starting salary will be 25% of the ’25/26 cap, with 8% annual raises from there.

Based on the NBA’s latest salary cap projection, Barnes’ five-year extension would be worth $224,238,150 if it starts at 25% next year’s cap, or $269,085,780 if it starts at 30%.

Here are more details on a few of the contracts recently finalized around the NBA:

  • Nicolas Batum (15%) and Derrick Jones (5%) each received trade kickers on their new contracts with the Clippers, Hoops Rumors has learned. Batum’s deal is worth the full bi-annual exception ($9,569,400 over two years) with a second-year player option, while Jones’ three-year, $30MM deal was completed using a significant portion ($9,523,810) of the mid-level exception. Los Angeles still has $3,298,190 left on its MLE for now.
  • Chris Paul‘s one-year contract with the Spurs has a guaranteed base value of $10.46MM, with unlikely incentives that could push his total earnings as high as about $12.03MM, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. That structure allowed San Antonio to create the extra cap room necessary to accommodate Harrison Barnes‘ incoming salary while also putting Paul in position to earn more his initially reported salary of $11MM.
  • Kelly Oubre, whose two-year, $16,365,150 contract is worth the Sixers‘ entire room exception (and features a player option), waived his right to veto a trade in 2024/25, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Kings center Alex Len gave up that right as well on his one-year, minimum-salary contract, Hoops Rumors has learned.
  • As expected, the contracts signed by new Kings guard Jordan McLaughlin and new Pelicans center Daniel Theis are one-year deals worth the veteran’s minimum.

Barnes, Quickley Need To Back Team's Commitment

  • The Raptors are betting big that they can build around Scottie Barnes and Immanuel Quickley, Michael Grange of Sportsnet writes. Both players were rewarded with five-year contracts this offseason. To back the front office’s commitment, Barnes needs to play well enough to be considered for an All-NBA team and Quickley needs to become an All-Star level guard, Grange says.

Raptors Sign Ulrich Chomche To Two-Way Deal

The Raptors have officially signed No. 57 overall pick Ulrich Chomche to a two-way contract, per the NBA’s transaction log.

According to Blake Murphy of Sportsnet (Twitter link), Chomche’s deal will cover two years instead of just one, putting him on track to reach restricted free agency in 2026. Chomche was the youngest player in this year’s draft class (he won’t turn 19 until December 30), so his camp and the Raptors agreed to approach his development with a longer-term view, Murphy explains.

Chomche, who was born in Cameroon, was part of the NBA Academy Africa before playing in the Basketball Africa League in 2022 and 2023. The 6’11” center became the first player in league history to be selected in an NBA draft after playing in the BAL.

The Raptors reportedly sent the Timberwolves $1MM in cash to acquire the No. 57 pick in last month’s draft in order to nab Chomche. That deal ended up being expanded to include four teams.

Toronto has now filled all three of its two-way slots, with Chomche joining D.J. Carton and Branden Carlson. The club also has 15 players on guaranteed standard contracts. It’s unclear if the Raptors plan on making any more roster changes in the coming days, weeks, or months, or if this is essentially the group they’ll take into training camp (with camp invitees to fill out the 21-man squad).

Atlantic Rumors: Trent, Quickley, Knicks, Kessler, Bertans, Celtics

Although the Raptors haven’t entirely closed the door on the possibility of bringing back free agent wing Gary Trent Jr., his return appears increasingly unlikely based on how the team’s offseason has played out, says Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

As Lewenberg observes, Toronto sacrificed much of its cap flexibility by taking on salary in a trade with the Kings and exercising Bruce Brown‘s team option. The club also added a wing in the first round of the draft, selecting Ja’Kobe Walter with the 19th overall pick. The 15-man roster is now full, with little breathing room below the luxury tax line.

When the Raptors’ negotiating window with Trent opened last month, they were willing to offer him an annual salary in the neighborhood of $15MM, a source tells Lewenberg, but the swingman’s camp was seeking a raise on last year’s $18.5MM salary, possibly up to $25MM or so.

Toronto wasn’t prepared to meet that price, and it doesn’t look like there are any rival suitors who will go that high either. One league insider tells TSN that Trent would be lucky at this point to receive the full mid-level exception (worth about $12.9MM). The Raptors no longer have on offer on the table for the 25-year-old, according to Lewenberg.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Jazz and Spurs, among other teams, had “real” interest in restricted free agent guard Immanuel Quickley before he agreed to sign a five-year, $175MM contract with the Raptors, Lewenberg writes, which is one reason why that deal came in higher than expected. Quickley’s new deal will be worth a flat $35MM across all five seasons, Lewenberg adds, so it’ll start at just under 25% of the salary cap in 2024/25 but that percentage will drop each year as the cap increases.
  • Echoing previous reporting, Ian Begley of SNY.tv (Twitter video link) confirms that the Knicks have inquired on Walker Kessler, but says he’d be surprised if New York makes a deal for the third-year center, given the Jazz‘s asking price, which includes “at least” a first-round pick.
  • The Knicks are among the teams that have expressed some level of interest in free agent sharpshooter Davis Bertans, sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link).
  • After the Celtics officially re-signed centers Xavier Tillman, Luke Kornet, and Neemias Queta, director of player personnel Austin Ainge said he’s “extremely grateful” to have all those players back and suggested that one or more of them could have landed more lucrative deals elsewhere. “We had some guys turn down more money other places to come back,” Ainge said, according to Brian Robb of MassLive.com. “It feels really good that guys we care about a lot to come back and go for another run.”

Atlantic Notes: Martin, Sixers, Embiid, Vezenkov, Celtics

In order to maximize their cap room, the Sixers renounced the rights to nearly all of their free agents, including a handful of players who hadn’t actually been on the roster for years, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter links). However, there was one notable exception: KJ Martin‘s cap hold remains on the team’s books.

Martin’s cap hold is worth the veteran’s minimum of $2,087,519, but Philadelphia holds his full Bird rights, allowing the team to go over the cap to re-sign him to a contract worth any salary up to the maximum.

Of course, Martin won’t get the max, but it could be in the 76ers’ best interests to re-sign him to a deal worth more than the minimum. Besides potentially vying for rotation minutes, Martin might come in handy as a trade chip on a roster where so many players will be earning either maximum- or minimum-salary contracts.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • A year after James Harden‘s trade demand hung over the Sixers‘ offseason like a dark cloud, there’s more optimism this summer in Philadelphia about the new-look roster, headed by Joel Embiid, Paul George, and Tyrese Maxey. Speaking to Tim Bontemps of ESPN, Embiid cautioned that the team still needs to make it work on the court, but admitted he’s excited about how the new big three looks. “On paper, and as far as the fit, it looks fantastic because you got both guys that can play off the ball, and they can play on ball and they’re great shooters and they can handle the ball, and then you also got me,” he said with a smile.“So, yeah, it looks great.”
  • Addressing the Sasha Vezenkov situation on Monday, Raptors president Masai Ujiri said he has had discussions with Vezenkov, his representatives, GM Bobby Webster, and head coach Darko Rajakovic about the matter. As Keith Smith of Spotrac details in depth, Vezenkov has reportedly reached a deal with Olympiacos but remains under contract with Toronto on a guaranteed NBA contract, preventing him from returning to Greece without the Raptors’ cooperation. “I think that should develop in the next few days or we’ll see whether it’s a few months,” Ujiri said. “We acquired a player in a trade and we feel we have communicated well. We communicated well with the agent and the team before. And so we’ll see how that goes.”
  • Taking a closer look at the Celticsdecision to put majority control of the franchise up for sale, Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe says he believe H. Irving Grousbeck is ‘the one driving this sale” and that his son Wyc Grousbeck – the team’s governor and CEO – actually owns a “relatively small stake” in the team.