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NBA Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry

Raptors Kyle Lowry Has A Sore Back And A Double Tech

Toronto was set for an easy night when the Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall couldn’t play because of a sprained shoulder, but unfortunately the Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry ran onto the court with a massive wrap looking suspiciously like an ice-pack on his lower back during the pregame warm-ups and that should have been taken as a clue that the home team’s advantage wasn’t going to be all the big after all.

“He’s had some soreness in his back,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey responded to Pro Bball Report’s query after the game.

Lowry didn’t look right in his 12 minutes of action against the Wizards. He went 0-4 from the field, leaving his layups short, even below the rim and it didn’t take long before he started taking his frustration out on the referees. While he had a bit of a case about non-calls, it did look like he was trying to get thrown out despite the protestations from his head coach.

“I thought it was unfortunate,” Casey said. “People have said worse than that. They’ve said worse, far worse than what he said to the official.”

Casey is probably right that the official should have just walked away, but it looked like Lowry was trying to get ejected and it probably felt that way to the official as well.

Later it was discovered Lowry was using a heating pad rather than ice. It would be safe to assume he was trying to loosen up those stiff sore muscles in his lower back prior to the game.

Unfortunately this isn’t the first time Lowry has suffered through back problems. At the end of the 2014-15 season he missed nine games with back spasms and admitted or not, his back was obviously still bothering him in his very rough first round playoff series with these same Wizards.

A sore back really isn’t anything all that usual in the NBA, but it can become a concern if things don’t improve and it isn’t something that can just be ignored. A sore back hurts and affects your ability to do just about everything, just ask anyone who has ever had one.

Now that the issue has been brought to light, it is something everyone concerned about the Raptors fortunes should be paying attention to.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry

ESPN Flip Flops On Whether Raptors Will Win 50 Games

In perhaps the most obvious face saving move ESPN could make after their Summer Forecast had the Toronto Raptors going 47-35 next season and ending up in a fourth place tie, they produce a panel that flip flops on that doubtful prediction.

Chris Forsberg, ESPN.com: As long as Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are healthy, the Raptors have a chance for 50 or more wins in an underwhelming East.

Chris Herring, FiveThirtyEight.com: unless injuries get in the way like they did last season — when Lowry missed 22 games and DeRozan missed 12 — it’s hard to see how the Raptors don’t approach, or eclipse, the 50-win mark yet again.

How does a team with two returning 3x All-Stars not win 50 games in the East this year?

Put in a call to Captain Obvious, he’s being paged by ESPN.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors K.J. McDaniels

Raptors Give K.J. McDaniels A Training Camp Invite

Raptors president Masai Ujiri continued to fill out his training camp roster by signing free agent wing K.J. McDaniels to a partially guaranteed deal.

The Raptors took a good look at McDaniels prior to the draft in 2014, but opted for an even rawer talent in Bruno Caboclo with the 20th pick. McDaniels went 32nd overall to the 76ers.

A no step vertical of 33” and a wingspan just shy of 7’, the 6’6 McDaniels averaged 17.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 2.8 blocks as a junior at Clemson. He was even showing some progress on developing a three-point shot, but it was his defense that had the Raptors attention.

“(McDaniels’ athleticism) will absolutely translate,” Raptors director of scouting Tolzman said in June 2014. “He is a dynamic player who it’s hard to see how good he is in this setting because in 5-on-5 with help-side defense that’s where he flourishes. I think with the way the spacing in the NBA is and the rotations and defensive principles are so important, a guy like him, he can fly in from the wing and get blocks – like nothing. That’s what gets guys time in the NBA.

“In his three years at Clemson, (McDaniels) showed progress (offensive improvement was) already happening. He improved as a shooter every year and he got more comfortable as a perimeter shooter. When he first started, he was just a high wire interior type guy and in his last year, he was all over the floor and did all different types of things offensively. I don’t know if he is comfortable enough yet to come in and shoot the NBA three, but that’s definitely the type of thing as he gets more comfortable stretching his range out, he be that type of guy.

“(McDaniels) can get on the floor because of his defense and from there, the sky could be the limit for him because he does have all the athletic tools.”

Tolzman’s predictions were coming true in Philly as McDaniels averaged 9.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 1.3 blocks in 25.4 minutes thru 52 games as a rookie, but the 76ers opted to cash in on the quick progress by trading him to Houston where his development stalled on a team that had no minutes for him.

The Rockets traded him to the Nets this past season and Brooklyn declined to pick up his team option, so the now 24-year-old will be fighting it out with Ujiri’s pack of training camp invites in order to get his NBA career restarted.

McDaniels has played 2,092 minutes thru three NBA seasons on three different teams. He should be well ahead of the rookie prospects hoping to stick with the Raptors after training camp and preseason. If he can hit the three-ball at 35 percent like he did with the NBA G League Vipers two years ago on 85 attempts thru 16 games, his defense and athleticism just might give him the edge over his less experienced competition.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_inside Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
 

 

 

Raptors preseason schedule

Toronto Raptors Training Camp And Preseason Schedule

The Toronto Raptors have announced their training camp and preseason schedule for the 2017-18 season.

Head coach Dwane Casey and his team will hold training camp in Victoria, British Columbia. This marks the fourth consecutive year the Raptors will hold training camp in British Columbia and fifth time overall in team history.

Following training camp the Raptors will kick off a five-game preseason schedule in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Raptors will practice Tuesday, September 26 through Friday, September 29 at Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities (CARSA) on the University of Victoria campus and the team will hold an open intra-squad game Thursday, September 28.

Practice sessions will be closed to the public. A detailed training camp schedule, along with information for the open intra-squad game will be released at a later date.

“It’s an honour to visit a different part of Canada and prepare for our season in the first-class facilities at the University of Victoria,” said Casey. “We are extremely proud being Canada’s only NBA franchise. Our players and staff feel enthusiasm for basketball in every city we have visited. We don’t ever want to take that for granted.”

“We are very excited to partner with the Toronto Raptors on their 2017 preseason training camp,” said Clint Hamilton, Director of Vikes Athletics and Recreation at the University of Victoria. “This will be a great opportunity for our community as we welcome Canada’s NBA team to UVic and our CARSA facility. We look forward to providing a high quality environment for the Raptors players and staff as they begin their journey towards a championship in the 2017-18 season.”

This is the 10th time the Raptors have held a portion of their training camp outside the province of Ontario. Previously the team has trained in Halifax, Treviso and Rome in Italy, Madrid in Spain and Buffalo, New York.

The five-game preseason schedule starts in Honolulu, Hawaii for the first time in franchise history with a pair of games October 1st at 10 pm ET and October 3rd at 1 am ET against the Los Angeles Clippers. Both games will be played at Stan Sheriff Center on the University of Hawaii campus.

The Raptors return to the mainland on October 5th at 10 pm ET to face Portland at Moda Center, returning to Toronto for their lone preseason contest at Air Canada Centre on October 10th at 7 pm versus Detroit. The preseason finale will take place on October 13th at 8 pm ET on the road in Chicago at the United Center.

The 2017-18 NBA season will tip-off Tuesday, October 17.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA G League Mississauga Raptors 905 Lorenzo Brown

Raptors Sign Guard Lorenzo Brown To A Two-Way Contract

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have signed 26-year-old guard Lorenzo Brown to a two-way contract.

Brown, 6-foot-5, 189 pounds, has averaged 3.3 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 63 career NBA games with Philadelphia (2013-14), Minnesota (2014-15) and Phoenix (2015-16). He has also appeared in 74 career D-League games over four seasons with the Delaware 87ers (2013-14), Springfield Armor (2013-14) and Grand Rapids Drive averaging 18.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.8 steals while shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three-point range.

A native of Roswell Georgia, Brown was selected 52nd overall in the 2013 NBA Draft by Minnesota after playing three seasons at North Carolina State. He averaged 11.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in college.

Brown split last season between the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and the Drive.

He averaged 24.0 points, while shooting .301 (37-for-123) from three-point range during 20 games with Zhejiang. Brown finished the season averaging 23.6 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting .353 (18-for-51) from three-point territory in 11 appearances for Grand Rapids.

Two-way contracts do not count against the 15-man NBA roster. Teams are restricted to two players on two-way contracts. The Raptors other two-way contract player is Malcolm Miller.

As an older player with international experience, Brown fits with the concept of someone the Raptors might call up from the G League to the NBA as an injury replacement during the regular season.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMarre Carroll Brooklyn Nets

DeMarre Carroll Credits Ujiri For Finding Him A Soft Landing

Former Raptors forward DeMarre Carroll said some things after he left Toronto that created quite the stir about his former club, but now that he’s comfortably landed in Brooklyn, his tone has softened considerably as reported by Brian Lewis in the New York Post.

 “I give credit to Masai: He helped me find a team,’’ Carroll said.

“Masai is a great guy, a great GM, and at end of the day it was a mutual decision. We talked about it at the end of the season and even before the end of the season.”

Carroll also admitted a lot of his own performance issues in Toronto had nothing to do with the style of play. For all practical purposes, he was hurting the entire time he was there.

“The biggest thing last year was I never got the proper strength. My body wasn’t strong enough to sustain 82 games,’’ Carroll said.

In terms of the Raptors playing more “ISO” ball than suites his particular game, DeMarre did know what he was getting into when he went to Toronto.

 “You got two great All-Stars, two great players. That’s how they play. They were playing that way before I came, and they’re going to be playing that way long after I leave. They’re not changing that for me.”

Apparently Carroll is very happy to be back playing for former Hawks lead assistant coach Kenny Atkinson. Hopefully his injury problems are behind him as well.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 Featured image courtesy of Larry Millson

 

 

 

 

Team Canada Cory Joseph

Raptors Trade Cory Joseph For The Draft Rights To Emir Preldzic

The Toronto Raptors have officially acquired the draft rights to EuroLeague veteran forward Emir Preldzic from the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Canadian guard Cory Joseph.

Preldzic, 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, began playing professionally in 2003 and spent eight seasons (2007-15) with  Fenerbahçe of the EuroLeague. He played the past two seasons with  Darüşşafaka (2015-16) and Galatasaray (2016-17) in the Turkish League.

A native of Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the 29-year-old Preldzic was originally selected 57th overall by the Phoenix Suns in the 2009 NBA Draft. His draft rights have subsequently been held by Cleveland, Washington, Dallas and Indiana.   

He has career averages of 6.7 points and 3.1 rebounds over 10 seasons in Europe, so he isn’t expected to (ever) be coming over to the NBA.

It is anticipated Toronto will now use their mid-level exception to sign the Pacers unrestricted free agent forward C.J. Miles to a three-year $25 million deal.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl

Raptors Poeltl, Siakam And VanVleet Cruise Thru Summer League

Rookies no more, the Toronto Raptors Summer League “Big Three” Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet have cruised thru the first three games in Las Vegas. They’ve been here before and it shows.

If one can overlook those five turnovers in his last outing where the game against Nuggets turned into a version of “Keystone Cops” at the end, VanVleet has shown off his full range of skills over the three contests.

Driving to the basket and finishing thru traffic, VanVleet has hit on 57.9 percent of his two-point attempts. He’s also hit from outside on 5-11 three-point attempts (45.5 percent) and 7-7 from the charity stripe. Over the three games, VanVleet has averaged 14.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.3 steals.

There have been those “Summer League Moments” where everyone isn’t on the same page and concentration has slipped, but it’s looked all too easy this time around for VanVleet.

Those Summer League announcers could back off a little on their regular Raptors 905 head coach Jerry Stackhouse quote that Siakam is “the best defensive player on the Raptors.” That’s stretching things really far.

Siakam is having a relatively easy time in Las Vegas though and is showing off a jump shot that not many would be expecting this soon in his NBA career.

Siakam is averaging 18.3 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, a steal and 1.7 blocks on 56.4 percent shooting from the field, but the real story is that he has made a three-pointer in each game and has shot 4-9 from deep. The Raptors want more three-point shooting and just maybe Siakam can add stretch-four to his list of attributes?

Poeltl is doing what Poeltl does. He is surprising people with his ability to put the ball on the floor and drive and he is effectively using his size to overpower just about everyone around the basket at both ends of the court. Averaging 14.7 points and pulling in 10 rebounds in each game, Poeltl is finishing at a 69 percent clip and looking very mobile for a big stocky center.

The Raptors newest signing, Alfonzo McKinnie, showed off why he was inked to multi-year/training camp invite contract in Game Three against the Nuggets. This kid can sky for putbacks and rebounds with ease.

Fun to watch and looking like the typical overenthusiastic rookie, McKinnie had 11 points and 11 rebounds against the Nuggets and if he can find some polish to his offense (5-15 shooting), this kid could become a real find.

Stackhouse loves this kid’s energy and it’s easy to see why.

By going 3-0 in the preliminary round, the Raptors earned themselves a practice day before the next round of the tournament starts.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Malcolm Miller and Alfonzo McKinnie

Raptors Sign Two Undrafted Free Agents

The Toronto Raptors signed two undrafted free agents today guard-forward Malcolm Miller to the recently created two-way G-League/NBA contract and forward Alfonzo McKinnie to a multi-year/ training camp invite contract.

In keeping with president Masai Ujiri’s new theme for 2017, both players can shoot the three.

An undrafted wing player out of Holy Cross in 2015, Miller shot 37.2 percent from three on 121 attempts as a senior and played for the NBA D-League Maine Red Claws the following season where he shot 39.8 percent from three-point range on 211 attempts and that got him a contract in Europe.

In 40 games with Alba Berlin last year he averaged 6.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 18.7 minutes over 40 games. Once again he showed three-point proficiency by hitting on 38.5 percent of 91 attempts.

(All stats per Real GM)

The 6’7 Miller is 24-years-old has shown at least one NBA ready skill and inking him to a two-way G-League/NBA contract makes sense. He’s worth a good look.

 

The 6’8 McKinnie shot 6-13 from three as a junior and 21-64 as senior with Green Bay after spending the prior two seasons with Eastern Illinois. Over four college seasons he averaged 7.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in 18.9 minutes, but he was about to find his stride in the NBA Development League.

Last year he averaged 14.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 30.5 minutes in 50 games for the Windy City Bulls. He reached double-figure scoring 41 times. Showing future potential to stretch the floor, McKinnie shot 30.8 percent on 133 three-point attempts.

Stats per Real GM

The 24-year-old Chicago, Illinois native was named to the 2017 NBA D-League All-Star Game in New Orleans where he made a big impression on his head coach, Raptors 905 Jerry Stackhouse as reported by Sam Smith for the Windy City Bulls.

Alfonzo McKinnie impressed Jerry Stackhouse. This is not an easy thing to do. There haven’t been many guys to play in the NBA tougher than Stackhouse, who Saturday coached the East D-league All-Stars to a 105-100 victory.

“I loved his energy in practice,” said Stackhouse. “Defensively, he was one of the guys you showed one thing and right there he was doing it the next time. He had a good spirit. We (Stackhouse’s league leading Raptors 905 team) played against him this year. He’s athletic, has an ability to shoot the ball, perimeter, great size. The kid has a real chance.

“He has the ability to be a game changer defensively,” Stackhouse said. “To really be up on pick and roll; step up pick and roll is where it is now. If you can get guys up to that level, they can deter guys and he has the quickness to not let guys get by. I think that’s where he can make his mark on the defensive end first.”

A couple of players who, at this point, are not expected to make the Raptors in Toronto, but fit the profile of the types of player Ujiri wants to develop with the Raptors 905. They both have potential.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Brooklyn Nets DeMarre Carroll

Raptors Dump DeMarre Carroll In Brooklyn

In one deft move Raptors president Masai Ujiri solved his luxury tax problem with the salary dump of DeMarre Carroll and his remaining $30 million in Brooklyn for the Nets 27-year-old center Justin Hamilton who is owed $3 million on an expiring deal.

Ujiri cuts $11.8 million off his 2017-18 payroll, but he had to give the Nets both a future 2018 first round draft pick and a 2018 second round pick.

Carroll never lived up to his contract in Toronto, largely because of recurring injury issues, however, he is healthy now and it’s possible he returns to the form he showed in Atlanta. But, with the Raptors deep in luxury tax territory, this deal was inevitable even if Ujiri was certain of Carroll’s effectiveness next year.

As usual, Ujiri isn’t coming away completely empty-handed. The 7′ Hamilton has shown the ability to hit a third of his three-point attempts and the Raptors are looking for more shooting. Although Toronto really doesn’t need another center unless someone else is on the way out?

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri

Check Out Pro Bball Report On The Potent Lifestyle Magazine

Check out Pro Bball Report editor Stephen Brotherston’s article about the Toronto Raptors on The Potent Lifestyle Magazine.

Raptors Hit The Wall?

Eventually it happens with every successful professional sports team. Whatever got them on their current run starts to run out of steam. The fans continue to show up for a while reliving the memories, but the passion isn’t the same. In Toronto, the fans seem to know the Raptors have hit the wall.

Also check out Studio to Street Wear, the Artist’s Showcase, Music, and lots more in this inaugural relaunch issue.

NBA Toronto Raptors Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet and Raptor 905 at Las Vegas Summer League

Raptors Las Vegas Summer League Play Starts Friday

The Toronto Raptors will open the preliminary round of NBA Las Vegas Summer League on Friday, July 7 against the New Orleans Pelicans at Cox Pavilion. The Raptors will then face the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday, July 8 at Thomas & Mack Center and the Denver Nuggets on Monday, July 10 at Cox Pavilion. All games will be played on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus.

After the three preliminary round games, teams are seeded in a tournament format that starts July 12 (schedule t.b.d.) and culminates with the championship game on July 17. Each team will play at least five games.

ESPN will present all 67 games from Las Vegas across its various platforms. NBA TV will air 28 games, starting with the league’s opener July 7, when the Raptors face the Pelicans at 6 p.m. ET.

Current Raptors Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet will headline this year’s squad. First round draft pick OG Anunoby will not participate in the tournament while he recovers from a right knee injury. Raptors assistant coaches Jama Mahlalela and Patrick Mutombo will serve as the team’s coaches.

It’s noteworthy that Bruno Caboclo will not be playing in Summer League this year.

This year marks Toronto’s 10th appearance at NBA Summer League in Las Vegas (2006, 2008-10, 2012-17). The Raptors finished Summer League in 2016 with a 4-1 record after reaching the quarterfinals of the tournament.

NBA Toronto Raptors Patrick Patterson

Raptors Lose Patrick Patterson To The Thunder

It was inevitable that the Toronto Raptors were going to lose Patrick Patterson to free agency this summer because of luxury tax constraints, but at least he’s heading West to the Oklahoma City Thunder on a three-year $16.4 million dollar deal. The Raptors will only have to face him twice a year.

Patterson was the last of the four players Toronto received from the Sacramento Kings in December 2013 in the Rudy Gay trade that turned the Raptors from soft perennial losers into a four-time playoff team. He will be missed.

Once again Patterson should have a solid shot at the starting job at the start of the season and maybe in Oklahoma City the role suites him better. For reasons no one could understand, including Patterson, he could never get comfortable in the starting line-up with the Raptors and it wasn’t because they didn’t need him in that role.

The big forward was an above average defender with genuine three-point range and over the past four seasons he figured prominently in a number of Raptors victories. However, his three-point shot had a nasty habit of disappearing at precisely the wrong time.

Raptors fans will remember this career 36.8 percent three-point shooter hit on only 30 percent of his attempts from three during the run to the Eastern Conference Finals two springs ago, going just 3-11 in those last three games against Cleveland.

In this year’s playoffs, Patterson shot 30.8 percent from three over the 10 games, but only 22.2 percent in the Cavs second round sweep of the Raptors. He was part of the reason president Masai Ujiri lamented about the team’s three-point shooters not hitting three-point shots in the playoffs.

Those playoff blips aside, Toronto consistently played better with Patterson on the court. He was a ball mover and reliable defender. The classic glue-guy and the Thunder are sure to appreciate the stability he can bring to a team at both ends of the court.

The hardest part about seeing Patterson leave for the Thunder is, at that salary, he’d still look really good in a Raptors uniform.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Kennedy Meeks

Raptors Sign Undrafted UNC Center Kennedy Meeks

Raptors president Masai Ujiri didn’t waste any time after the NBA draft to pursue his new player development program as he quickly signed undrafted UNC senior center Kennedy Meeks to a partially guaranteed deal.

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express tagged Meeks as “strong candidate for a two-way contract” prior to Thursday’s draft.

The 22-year-old Meeks is 6’10 277 lbs and averaged 12.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.2 blocks and a steal in 24.3 minutes last year as UNC won the NCAA tournament. Meeks had some monster games at the end of the season and during the Tar Heels championship run.

At the ACC Final, Meeks had 19 points and 12 boards in a 93-83 loss to Duke.

At the NCAA tournament:

In the second round he had 16 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks in the 72-65 win over Arkansas.

At the Elite 8 he put up 7 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocks in the 75-73 win over Kentucky.

During the 77-76 Final Four match with Oregon, he had 25 points, 14 boards, a block and 3 steals.

Then in the championship game he had 7 points 10 boards, 2 blocks and 2 steals in the 71-65 win over Gonzaga.

He obviously has the potential to be a dominant physical force in the paint, but he’s going to be expected to step up his effort on a consistent basis in the pros.

He didn’t make the type of progress NBA scouts were hoping for over the past three years, partially due to injuries, conditioning concerns, and his porous defense, as he simply didn’t always bring the type of approach to the game you might have hoped considering his average size, length and athleticism for a center prospect. – Jonathan Givony

Meeks is an ideal candidate for the new NBA two-way contract. If he finds his way to being more consistent and adapts to the pro game, he could be a nice find that develops quickly.

Prior to the draft, Meeks worked out in Toronto and talked to the media afterwards.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri

Raptors Looking To Trade Down In The Draft?

Basketball Insiders Michael Scotto says the Toronto Raptors are trying to trade down in the NBA Draft tonight possibly to save salary cap space.

There are several teams without a first round draft pick that could be interested. The Raptors may be interested in trading for second round draft picks as unsigned players taken in the second round do not count against the cap.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Masai Ujiri and Kyle Lowry

Kyle Lowry Still Working Out At Raptors Practice Facility

This is the “silly season” in the NBA as unsubstantiated rumors are everywhere ahead of the draft and free agency and the notably quiet Toronto Raptors are not immune. While unrestricted free agent Kyle Lowry has been rumored to be unhappy and heading home to Philadelphia to play for the 76ers or somehow joining the over the cap Spurs in San Antonio, the All-Star point guard has been working out at the Raptors practice facility in Toronto.

“Kyle (Lowry) has been here working out and he actually just left (the practice facility),” Raptors president Masai Ujiri told the media on Tuesday. “I know what he has been telling me. I know I believe what he tells me, not the famous sources.”

After a recent article in the local media, Lowry felt compelled to respond.

“(Kyle Lowry) has been a part of our organization and he says he wants to come back,” Ujiri said. “I know speculation. We all have ups and downs. There are times when he’s been down. There are times when we are down. It happens to every team, every player. People go thru it. This is rumor season and everybody is going to make a big deal out of (everything).”

At the end-of-season media availability Lowry was asked if he’d be back next season and he diplomatically ducked the direct question, but he did say something that pertains directly to what’s happening today.

“I’ll be here (in Toronto) until June 14th, until (his son Carter’s) last day of school,” Lowry said. “So we’ll be here enjoying, once it gets a little bit warmer, enjoying this great weather.”

Not only is it a week later than necessary to be in Toronto, it’s only 10 days until free agency opens up and apparently he’s been hanging around with the Raptors the whole time.

While there are no guarantees and Ujiri admits, “there are probably five different scenarios we’ve looked at” heading into the draft and free agency, the longer Lowry sticks around in Toronto, the easier it is going to be to get his commitment to stay.

When Lowry was an unrestricted free agent three years ago, he received interest from the Heat, Lakers, Rockets and Mavs, but held off until the morning to meet with the Raptors and supposedly turned down more money from other teams. His reasons then are the same reasons he should be expected to re-up in Toronto once again.

“I don’t make a decision if I don’t have the support of my family. It just doesn’t happen,” Lowry said.

“Our locker room everyone pretty much everyone has young guys, young kids and we get a chance to talk about your kids and we get a chance to take a break from basketball and know that life is bigger than just basketball. Life is more about your family, your kids and it always makes you smile.”

In reality, nothing has changed over the last three years except maybe his relationships with his teammates have gotten stronger.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 
 

NBA Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri

Raptors Nab Future Second Round Draft Pick From Magic

Well the other shoe has finally dropped. The Toronto Raptors didn’t come away empty handed by allowing the Orlando Magic to steal away general manager Jeff Weltman. They managed to nab the worse of the Magic’s or the Lakers future second round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft as compensation.

 

 

2017 Toronto Raptors NBA predraft workout prospect T.J. Leaf

T.J. Leaf Could Be The Raptors Next Stretch Four Prospect

A likely NBA first round draft pick in the twenties, UCLA freshman T.J. Leaf was in Toronto for a predraft workout and he showed why he could be the Raptors next stretch four prospect.

The 6’10 forward shot 46.6 percent from three-point range in college and had some big time numbers in a successful program averaging 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Not surprisingly the Raptors wanted to see if he could do more than just score.

“Playmaking, being able to rebound the ball and just attack the rim,” were the things he was being asked to do said Leaf. “Not just score, but be able to make my teammate better.

“I am not the best defender right now so if they want to put me in defensive drills to help me get better, it’s great.”

The Raptors are likely in the market for a stretch four coming off the bench next season with forward Patrick Patterson about to become an unrestricted free agent and president Masai Ujiri expected to blow the budget re-signing Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker.

Last year’s rookie big men aren’t known for their shooting and someone like Leaf could earn a spot in the Raptors rotation early on next season.

“He plays the right way,” Director, player personnel Dan Tolzman said. “Decision-making and team-oriented basketball, he’s elite at that. Always seems to make the right passes. Finds himself in the right spot whether it’s opportunity rebounds or that sort of thing.

“He doesn’t need to be dominating the ball to have an impact on the game.”

Assuming the ULCA forward is still on the board when the Raptors draft at 23rd, he seems like a logical pick for a team like Toronto that is need of more three-point shooting.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors DeMar DeRozan Serge Ibaka Kyle Lowry 2017 collage

Basketball Insiders Think Raptors Will Stay The Course

Options for Raptors president Masai Ujiri next season are limited and his best scenario will be to stay the course says Basketball Insiders editor Steve Kyler in his look at the future in Toronto.

1.  Attacking the free agent market to get better next next season isn’t an option as Ujiri has no real cap space to work with again this summer.

even if the Raptors said no thank you to all of their free agents, they would enter the off-season with $24.188 million in cap space. Said differently, that’s not even room for one max free agent.

2. Kyle Lowry will re-sign with the Raptors. For lots of reasons other than just the money. Lowry loves his life in Toronto and considers DeMar DeRozan “family.” Besides, there just aren’t many landing spots out there for a 31-year-old All-Star point guard that wants to win and get paid.

As much as people want to speculate about the future landing spot for Lowry, the likely outcome of the situation is he re-signs in Toronto on a whopper of a contract.

3. Serge Ibaka wanted to be traded to Toronto and the Raptors have done everything they could to make Ibaka love the move. Over and over again Ibaka has said he wants to play more at center and coach Casey accommodated him and not just to make Ibaka happy. Ujiri wants changes and Ibaka is the kind of change (a stretch-five that blocks shots) this team is looking for. Expect Ibaka to be back on a new $100 million plus contract.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri had been after Ibaka in trade for some time. Most in NBA circles believe that Ibaka made it clear to the Magic the only team he wanted to land with was Toronto

4. Patrick Patterson is likely the odd man out in free agency. He’s a “3-and-D” power forward that seems to get hurt every season and then loses his stroke. The Raptors would like to keep him as a backup power forward if the price is right, but the risk in free agency is he gets priced out of his value to Toronto.

As good as Patrick Patterson has been for the Raptors, he may be priced too high if they can reach deals with Lowry and Ibaka.

5. P.J. Tucker is a guy Ujiri acquired to fill a gaping hole at combo-forward and he impressed big time during the postseason. The Raptors want him back, but Tucker made it really clear after the season he wants to come back only if the Raptors are keeping their big name free agents – especially Lowry.

P.J Tucker has said he’d like to be back with the Raptors and his price tag might be reasonable enough to work even if the Raptors pay out big money to Lowry and Ibaka.

6. Ujiri will be active in the trade market, if not right away in July, later in the summer as teams are trying to fill holes in their rosters or ahead of the trade deadline. Moving one of his big contracts like DeMarre Carroll would make paying the luxury tax bill from re-signing his own free agents much less painful.

the situation becomes easier if the Raptors can off-load a bigger contract that no longer fits the plan going forward

Even Jonas Valanciunas could be on the block if the goal is to start Ibaka at center and let the cheaper Lucas Nogueira and  Jakob Poeltl compete for the backup center role.

As much as Jonas Valanciunas has meant to the Raptors, moving his $15.46 million salary would solve more problems for the future than he does as a player.

The Raptors are a 50 win team that been to the postseason four straight years and to stay on the radar in hockey-mad Toronto, that’s pretty much the floor and Ujiri knows it. The Raptors will “try to change the culture,” but they aren’t going to tank to do it. At least not voluntarily.

Look for head coach Dwane Casey and his two All-Stars, Lowry and DeRozan, to be back in Toronto again next season putting together another 50 win season and hoping they’ve found the magic (Ibaka) that can take them up another level. As Kyler explains, they don’t have much choice.

Be sure to check out all of Kyler’s analysis here.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell and DeMarre Carroll and Patrick Patterson

Basketball Insiders Predict A Raptors Game Two Win

There aren’t a lot of basketball analysts willing to predict the Raptors can steal a game in Cleveland from a Cavaliers team that has had their number at The Q, but Basketball Insiders David Yapkowitz thinks it’s about to happen.

Going out on a limb here and saying the Raptors steal Game 2. The role players hit their shots, Lowry and DeRozan have big nights, and this series is 1-1 heading to Toronto.

Yapkowitz nails the key to victory for the Raptors on the road. While role players are expected to perform better at home and should be expected to be the difference makers back in Toronto, players like Patrick Patterson, DeMarre Carroll, Norman Powell and/or last year’s impact postseason player Jonas Valanciunas will need to be big  Game Two contributors in Cleveland if the Raptors are going to even this series up at one apiece.

It’s not a crazy idea to believe the Raptors secondary scorers can have an impact. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka have attracted most of the defensive effort in the postseason, so those secondary scorers are getting a lot of open looks.

If they can start hitting those shots, the Cavs defense will start to look like it has all season – porous. If they are firing bricks, poor shooting makes suspect defense look pretty good.

As Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said recently, “We’ve got to score points. … We’ve got the players to do it, to put points on the board tit-for-tat.”

Those role players have to start scoring tit-for-tat for the Raptors to steal a game in Cleveland.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.