Yuta Watanabe

Atlantic Notes: Rose, Reddish, Raptors, Watanabe, Schröder

Derrick Rose is traveling with the Knicks on their three-game road trip and there’s optimism that he will be able to resume playing next month, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Rose had surgery on his right ankle on December 22 and was projected to be sidelined about eight weeks, which would have him returning right after the All-Star break.

“I hate to speculate,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I know he’s doing everything according to plan and there hasn’t been any setback. The swelling’s all gone and he’s feeling a lot better. That’s the important thing.”

Thibodeau added that Rose hasn’t been cleared to run or jump yet, but he is doing workouts in a pool. The loss of Rose, combined with knee issues for Kemba Walker, have left the Knicks short-handed at point guard, although Walker returned to the starting lineup Monday night.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • After playing five minutes Sunday in his Knicks debut, Cam Reddish didn’t get off the bench at all Monday, per Ian Begley of SNY.tv. There’s no obvious candidate to be removed from the rotation to give Reddish more minutes, so Begley wonders if a trade is in the works, noting that it wouldn’t make sense for the Knicks to give up a first-round pick for Reddish if they didn’t intend to use him.
  • The Raptors aren’t interested in trading core players Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Scottie Barnes, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Instead, Toronto will focus on acquiring other pieces who can complement that group going forward. One obvious move involves finding a taker for Goran Dragic‘s $19.4MM expiring contract. Dragic was acquired from the Heat in the Kyle Lowry deal, but hasn’t played since early November while tending to personal matters, which Grange said the Raptors didn’t expect.
  • The Raptors have assigned Yuta Watanabe to their G League team, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. As a fourth-year player, Watanabe would have needed to give his approval to the move. He has played in just 19 games this season.
  • The Cavaliers may be the Celtics‘ best option in working out a deal for Dennis Schröder, John Hollinger of the Athletic says in a discussion with Jay King about Boston’s trade prospects. Hollinger proposes sending Schröder to Cleveland for Kevin Pangos, Ed Davis and a 2023 second-round pick in a trade that would leave both teams under the luxury tax.

COVID-19 Updates: Oubre, Casey, Satoransky, Garuba, More

Hornets forward Kelly Oubre has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (via Twitter). Oubre will miss the team’s Monday night game vs. Milwaukee and will likely be sidelined longer than that unless he registered a false positive or inconclusive test. There are now two Charlotte players in the protocols, with Oubre joining Vernon Carey.

Here are more protocol-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Pistons head coach Dwane Casey has entered the protocols and will be replaced in the short term by assistant Rex Kalamian, tweets Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Half of the NBA’s 30 head coaches have now been placed in the protocols at some point this season.
  • Pelicans guard Tomas Satoransky has cleared the health and safety protocols and was back with the team today, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Rockets rookie Usman Garuba has exited the COVID-19 protocols and is no longer listed on the team’s injury report, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
  • Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe and Heat two-way player Marcus Garrett are among the other players who have cleared the protocols, per Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, respectively (Twitter links).
  • The Bucks are listing Pat Connaughton as questionable to play on Monday night and he posted an emoji of a plane today on Twitter, strongly signaling that he has exited the protocols and is flying to meet the team in Charlotte, as Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes (via Twitter). Whether or not Connaughton is available tonight, it sounds like he’s no longer in the protocols.

COVID-19 Updates: Raptors, Thunder, Stewart, Freedom, Strus

After briefly having no players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the first time in weeks, the Raptors placed Svi Mykhailiuk and Yuta Watanabe in the protocols today, tweets Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

According to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (via Twitter), only three players on the Raptors’ roster have avoided entering the protocols in the last month. Two of those players – David Johnson (injury) and Goran Dragic (personal) – have been away from the team, leaving Chris Boucher as the lone active player not to be affected.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates:

  • Thunder guard Tre Mann and big man Darius Bazley have cleared the health and safety protocols, acting head coach Mike Wilks said today (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). That leaves rookie Jeremiah Robinson-Earl as the only Oklahoma City player still in the protocols.
  • Celtics center Enes Freedom returned to practice today, having exited the COVID-19 protocols, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Aaron Nesmith is the only Celtic who remains in the protocols.
  • Isaiah Stewart has cleared the protocols and met the Pistons in Charlotte, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic. It’s unclear if the big man will be available on Wednesday vs. the Hornets or if he’ll need more time to get back into game condition.
  • Heat guard Max Strus is no longer in the protocols, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Miami now has four players in the protocols, with six hardship additions on 10-day deals, so not all of those players will be able to be active going forward.
  • The full list of players in the COVID-19 protocols can be found right here.

Raptors Notes: Practice, Sabonis, Turner, Achiuwa, Banton

Like the Pacers, the Raptors opted to cancel their practice on Thursday due to an “abundance of caution” related to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, tweets Blake Murphy of The Athletic.

As was the case with Indiana, Toronto didn’t provide any additional details to explain the decision. However, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) hears that it’s “not a player issue,” which suggests that perhaps a staff member either tested positive for COVID-19 or is a close contact of someone who did.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • The Raptors will have to decide in the coming weeks whether they intend to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, Grange writes for Sportsnet.ca. As Grange observes, upgrading the center spot or adding a reliable backup point guard could help make Toronto a more legitimate playoff contender, but the team could also decided to take a longer-term view toward the future and shop a couple veterans.
  • A league source tells Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca that the Raptors have had “their eyes on” Pacers big men Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner for years, so they’ll likely at least kick the tires on the two veteran centers. Doug Smith of The Toronto Star (subscribers only) argues that Toronto should seriously pursue either Sabonis or Turner in an effort to solidify the five spot.
  • Raptors center Precious Achiuwa is once again sidelined due to shoulder tendinitis, and head coach Nick Nurse isn’t sure how long Achiuwa will be out, writes Lewenberg. “Obviously, it’s aggravated again,” Nurse said of the injury. “I don’t know what to say. Hopefully it’s short-term, but you never know.”
  • Rookie guard Dalano Banton is pulling double duty this season, playing frequently for both the Raptors in the NBA and the Raptors 905 in the G League. As Smith writes for The Toronto Star, Banton welcomes that challenge, knowing that current Raptors stars like Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam spent plenty of time with the 905 when they first entered the league. “I’m not getting tired of it,” Banton said. “I’m just kind of trusting in the process that they have going on for me. … I trust in the development of the Raptors and I’ve seen it countless times of guys who came before me.”
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic addressed a handful of Raptors-related topics in his latest mailbag, including Yuta Watanabe‘s future and what the team could get back in a trade involving Chris Boucher.

Raptors Notes: Birch, Anunoby, Watanabe, Boucher, Banton

Raptors center Khem Birch has already been ruled out for Friday’s game in Indiana, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. It’ll be the fifth game in a row that Birch has missed, but head coach Nick Nurse doesn’t view the swelling in the big man’s right knee as a serious issue.

“There seems to be nothing really wrong with it other than it’s not handling some wear and tear, I guess, and it’s going up and down a little bit in the last couple weeks,” Nurse said before Wednesday’s game, per Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

The only other player on Toronto’s injury report for Friday is OG Anunoby, who is once again listed as questionable due to his left hip pointer. Anunoby was also listed as questionable for Wednesday’s contest but was ultimately held out of his fourth straight game.

Let’s round up a few more Raptors-related items…

  • Yuta Watanabe made his season debut on Wednesday after missing more than a month due to a calf injury. While his offensive numbers were modest (three points on 0-of-3 shooting), Watanabe made a strong impression on Nurse and the Raptors with his performance, which included two steals and two blocks in 14 minutes. “I thought (Watanabe’s play) was awesome,” Nurse said after the game, per Koreen. “I just think he ran down some loose balls — and we were really having some trouble doing that — he kept a few of them alive on the offensive end, got a great block. Just some really good, hard play.”
  • If Watanabe hangs onto a regular rotation role, it’ll put Chris Boucher in danger of losing minutes, Koreen observes. Boucher averaged 24.2 minutes per game last season, but has played just 13.9 MPG this season and logged only seven minutes on Wednesday. Boucher is at his best when he’s blocking shots on defense and hitting threes on offense, but his numbers in both categories have dropped off this season, making it hard to justify playing him much, Koreen writes.
  • The Raptors are getting all they expected and more from second-round pick Dalano Banton, says Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. The rookie is one of just three players on the roster who has appeared in all 19 games so far, and he’s earning praise from team leaders like Fred VanVleet. “The kid is really talented,” VanVleet said of Banton. “He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes and he plays really hard. He’s fearless and I like him.”

Injury Notes: Okongwu, Embiid, Raptors, Harris, B. Brown

Hawks big man Onyeka Okongwu played some 3-on-3 this week and “came out OK,” head coach Nate McMillan said on Tuesday (Twitter link via Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). McMillan added that the Hawks will continue to be cautious with Okongwu and that there’s no set timeline for his return from shoulder surgery. Atlanta initially estimated a recovery period of about six months when Okongwu went under the knife in July.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • After ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on Tuesday that the Sixers are hopeful Joel Embiid will be able to return as soon as Saturday, Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) reiterated today that there’s growing optimism about Embiid’s ability to play on Saturday. The star center hasn’t suited up since November 6 due to a case of COVID-19.
  • For the first time this season, the Raptors may have a fully healthy roster later this week, per Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. As Smith writes, Yuta Watanabe (calf) and OG Anunoby (hip) are both close to returning, while Khem Birch (knee) and Precious Achiuwa (shoulder) are day-to-day. All four players are currently listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game vs. Memphis.
  • Nets head coach Steve Nash doesn’t expect Joe Harris (ankle) to be back for Saturday’s game vs. Phoenix, but is optimistic Bruce Brown (hamstring) will be available by that point, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Nash said Brown wanted to play tonight, but the team is opting to give him a little more recovery time.

Atlantic Notes: Watanabe, Knicks Offense, Irving, Millsap

The Raptors’ Yuta Watanabe initially feared he tore his Achilles when he injured his left leg early in the preseason, he told Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Watanabe was diagnosed with a calf strain that has continued to keep him out of action. He aggravated the injury in a preseason practice with the team’s G League squad.

“Really frustrating,” Watanabe said. “My leg is painful, but what is the most painful is now that (my teammates are) playing basketball — like, that’s what I love doing it. So it’s been very stressful, to be honest. I just love playing basketball.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks retooled their roster with the additions of Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier but the offense has deteriorated almost game by game, Steve Popper of Newsday notes. The Knicks are 19th in the league in field goal percentage. “It’s just weird out there right now,” Julius Randle said. “That’s the best way I could describe it. It’s just kind of weird and just a little bit choppy and we’re just trying to figure it out. I think everybody’s hearts and intentions are in the right place. It’s just a little weird right now.”
  • A lopsided loss to Golden State and Stephen Curry this week showed how much the Nets miss Kyrie Irving, Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post opines. Curry had 37 points, including nine 3-pointers, on just 19 shots as Brooklyn couldn’t keep up with the red-hot Warriors.
  • Nets forward Paul Millsap has been away from the team but it’s not related to his limited playing time this season, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets. “Paul’s away for personal reasons and that’s totally separate from basketball,” coach Steve Nash said. Millsap joined the Nets on a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal.

Pascal Siakam To Return On Sunday

NOVEMBER 6: Siakam will return from shoulder surgery on Sunday against the Nets, Nurse said today, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link). He’ll be on a minutes restriction and it’s unclear whether he’ll start.

NOVEMBER 5: Raptors forward Pascal Siakam might return to the team’s lineup next week. Head coach Nick Nurse said that Siakam is “getting closer every day,” according to a series of tweets from Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

Nurse stated that Siakam has made significant progress in his return from shoulder surgery, noting that he is ahead of schedule. He will likely start out on a minutes restriction. Siakam was in Los Angeles earlier today receiving clearance from the doctor who performed the surgery, but returned to Toronto and was doing some work on the court before the game tonight versus the Cavaliers.

Nurse also said next Wednesday could be a good opportunity to see whether Siakam is ready to play, as there are two days in between Toronto’s matchups with the Nets on Sunday and the Celtics on Wednesday.

All of the information was relayed by Lewenberg.

Siakam was an All-Star for the first time in 2019/20, but struggled with his shot last season. He’ll be looking to return to form for the surging Raptors, who have won five in a row and are now 6-3.

Here’s a couple more Raptors injury notes:

  • Forward Yuta Watanabe has been inching closer to a return. Nurse said Watanabe’s movement has improved recently in practices but he’s still “probably a little bit away,” per Lewenberg (Twitter link).
  • Rookie Scottie Barnes, who missed a couple games with a sprained thumb, returned to the starting lineup tonight against the Cavs.

Injury Notes: Brown, Pacers, Raptors, Bucks

Celtics All-Star wing Jaylen Brown is dealing with lingering after-effects from contracting COVID-19, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Brown says it’s taking his body much longer to recover than normal, which is part of the reason he’s had up-and-down performances thus far.

Like, I feel great. And then it feels like instead of playing one game, it kind of feels like I played three. I’m used to my body responding and recovering a lot faster. I know I just turned 25, but this can’t be what it looks like on the other side,” Brown said Friday.

Head coach Ime Udoka recently said Brown’s inconsistency has been “mind-boggling,” according to Bontemps. Brown agreed, but he’s still not feeling right.

Ime came and talked to me about it yesterday,” Brown said. “It didn’t bother me. It’s mind-boggling to me too. I was surprised that my body didn’t respond the way it normally responds. I’m usually able to have that zip, that pop, flying up and down the court, but it wasn’t there. I think that was obvious.

I don’t think he was out of line or anything for that. I gotta be better and get with my medical staff and figure how to get my body to the point where I feel normal. Some days I feel fantastic and then it’s like two, three days, it takes my body too long to feel fantastic again. That’s an issue for me. As I navigate that, we have to still tighten up on the details, tighten up on our defense and find a way to win games. Even though I don’t feel the same on the court, I could still be better in certain areas and detailed in certain areas. That’s more the conversation that we have,” Brown said.

Brown is also suffering from patellar tendinopathy in his left knee, relays Bontemps, which is why he missed a game versus the Rockets on Sunday.

Here are some more injury notes from around the league:

  • We noted yesterday that Pacers rookie Isaiah Jackson suffered an injury on Wednesday and will be out “a while,” per head coach Rick Carlisle. The team provided an update today in press release, stating that Jackson has a hyperextended left knee and is considered week-to-week.
  • Caris LeVert missed the game tonight, but he’s close to returning for the Pacers, relays Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link).
  • Raptors forward Pascal Siakam is progressing from his shoulder injury, but he’s still weeks away from returning, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Grange says the best-case scenario is Siakam might return in mid-November.
  • In a separate tweet, Grange says that Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe suffered a setback with his calf injury and was unable to practice today.
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer doesn’t expect Brook Lopez or Jrue Holiday to play this weekend, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic (via Twitter). In a follow-up tweet, Nehm relays that Bobby Portis will miss tomorrow’s game as well (reconditioning).

Raptors Notes: VanVleet, Ujiri, Flynn, Injuries

Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, one of just three holdovers from Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan era, is trying to lead a rebuilding Raptors squad much the same way DeRozan did alongside Kyle Lowry years ago, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

DeRozan paid his first visit to his old club as a Bull, proving that he remains an absolutely clutch scorer to close out games. The Bulls would go on to win, 111-108.

“This is a new dynamic,” DeRozan said of how VanVleet has evolved to become the Raptors’ leader. “The conversations I have with Fred now, (leading a rebuilding team) is a new dynamic in your career that you have to figure out. It’s tough. But every great player goes through it. There’s not too many guys that just have a polished career. It’s another obstacle you can learn from and build on and turn you into a much better player than you even knew you had in you.”

There’s more out of Toronto:

  • The current Raptors ownership group, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, has a convoluted structure, but it has ultimately enabled team president Masai Ujiri to run the organization as he sees fit, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic. The various factions of the ownership group reportedly disagreed on the terms of Ujiri’s new contract, but that deal eventually got done earlier this year.
  • Raptors head coach Nick Nurse explained the lack of playing time for guard Malachi Flynn, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN (Twitter link). “There’s a Fred and there’s a Goran (Dragić) and we’ve given (rookie Dalano Banton) a run,” Nurse said. “And Dalano’s the one you should probably be asking me about. He’s played outstanding every minute he’s been out there. You guys should be all over me for not playing him more.” It sounds like it could be an uphill battle for Flynn to crack the club’s point guard rotation.
  • Injured Raptors forward Pascal Siakam was a full participant in the team’s practice today, and will join the club’s NBAGL affiliate, Raptors 905, to continue to work off the rust in their training camp, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN (via Twitter). Siakam has missed the team’s first three games with a shoulder injury. Small forward Yuta Watanabe also practiced with Toronto today and is considered to be nearing a return for the team, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet. Grange adds that Siakam might be on track to rejoin Toronto earlier than the initially-anticipated target date of mid-to-late November.