On Pro Bball Report recently: Anthony Bennett to Toronto, Terrence Ross breaks out or busts, Raptors to win division again, no extension for DeMar DeRozan, Big summers for Luis Scola and Cory Joseph, Steve Nash on Team Canada, Mad Ants problem, FIBA Americas, Eurobasket All-Stars Jonas Valanciunas and Nando De Colo and more.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are buying out former number one overall draft pick Anthony Bennett and unless some team has $5.8 million they don’t want, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent shortly and available to sign for the NBA minimum salary. Bennett is from Toronto and played for Team Canada this summer, so should the Raptors make an attempt to grab him to fill the 15th and final spot on their roster for this season?
Last season was a disappointing failure on the part of the Toronto Raptors wing Terrence Ross to build upon a strong sophomore year and it is only going to get tougher for the 24-year-old in 2015-16. The starting small forward spot was Ross’ to lose and he’s lost it to veteran DeMarre Carroll. Head coach Dwane Casey still wants Ross to succeed and he’ll be given every chance again this year, but it’s breakout or bust this time.
In all seriousness, even a causal fan would have to be raving mad to believe the Toronto Raptors are not the overwhelming favorite to win the Atlantic Division for the third consecutive season, a basketball insiders perspective is not required to come to that conclusion.
There are a lot of puff articles and even interviews lamenting the fact the Toronto Raptors and their star guard DeMar DeRozan are not pursuing contract extension talks prior to the start of this season. Aside from the fact this isn’t news and was well covered last season, the Raptors and anyone else who has bothered to look at the NBA CBA knows Toronto can’t extend DeRozan to anything remotely approaching his market value under the current rules.
While the Raptors moves this summer have brought a collective yawn from many outside of Toronto, a closer look suggests President and General Manager Masai Ujiri has added some high quality pieces to play alongside the two All-Star guards already on his roster. Big summers from Luis Scola and Cory Joseph while playing for their National Teams at the FIBA Americas tournament are raising the Raptors already high hopes for next season.
“I feel like this was what I envisioned,” Nash said after learning Canada was through to the semis. “There was moments when maybe I wasn’t sure it would come along this crisply, but I thought this would be the curve. We had a timid game against Argentina where we weren’t very good, otherwise we played well in Puerto Rico, we played well since. I don’t think I’d even go as far as pleasantly surprised, but I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it.”
Things just got real for the 11 NBA teams that have yet to secure their own NBA D-League affiliate. The Indiana Pacers are about to announce they have acquired the last remaining independent D-League team, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
The Toronto Raptors are watching three of their recently signed key players for next season in leading roles with their respective National Teams this summer. Jonas Valanciunas, Luis Scola and Cory Joseph are playing on teams expected to make some noise in their respective FIBA tournaments and while each player has a pivotal role, their situations couldn’t be more different.
Canada Should Defeat Mexico To Secure FIBA Americas Semis Appearance
The two top teams heading into the FIBA Americas tournament were Argentina and Canada, both in Group B. In Group A, Mexico avoided the top teams in the preliminary round to go undefeated, but the easy ride is over for the host nation and they have to face Canada tonight and Argentina on Wednesday.
Team Canada faced off against unbeaten Mexico and a boisterous crowd in the second round of the 2015 FIBA Americas spanking them 94-73 on their home court. Andrew Wiggins led Canada with 17 points while hitting on all four of his three-point attempts. It was a crushing victory for the visitors that vaulted Canada past Mexico and into second place with an outside shot at the number one seed
“Yesterday after training he climbed quite high temperatures, he receives medication, lies at the hotel and hopes that tomorrow he will be able to play. Today – certainly not, “- said Team doctor Vytenis Trumpickas
Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas had a huge game for Lithuania in a quarter-finals match against Italy at Eurobasket 2015. Valanciunas posted a game-high 26 point 15 rebound double-double in the 95-85 overtime victory.
Jonas Valanciunas Goes For Gold With Lithuania At Eurobasket 2015
Taking on top-ranked and unbeaten Serbia in the Eurobasket 2015 semi-finals, Lithuania was in tough if they wanted to get to the Gold Medal game and a guaranteed Olympic berth in Rio. However, once again Jonas Valanciunas led his team in scoring with 15 points and 4 blocked shots as Lithuania knocked off Serbia 67-64 in a hard-fought defensive battle.
Lithuania center Jonas Valanciunas also earned his first All-Star Five Presented by Tissot selection after contributing 16 points and 8.4 rebounds per-game, despite suffering with illness earlier in the competition. France’s Nando De Colo completed the fantastic five after playing a starring role in the hosts’ run to the bronze medal. The 28-year-old averaged 13.1 Points and 5.2 rebounds per-game as he revelled in the increased responsibly on his shoulders.
• Big Stories From The Previous Week
It seems like a lifetime ago, but the Toronto Raptors started last season demolishing all-comers in a 13-2 run that ended with an unfortunate DeMar DeRozan groin injury that cost him over 20 games. DeRozan was returning from an All-Star campaign and perhaps the only good thing to come from his being hurt was it opened the door for Kyle Lowry to earn an All-Star nod of his own.
No less than starting point guard Kyrie Irving, starting power forward Kevin Love, one-time starting center Anderson Varejao and last year’s starting center Timofey Mozgov are all expected to be back (eventually) after serious injuries. The player and the team can say everything is going great and the rehab is on schedule, but nothing is a sure thing until the player gets on the court and puts a few games under their belt.
The Toronto Raptors All-Star and starting point guard Kyle Lowry will turn 30-years-old during the upcoming season and this realization has brought some changes to his usual summer workouts. Pictures of a new slimmed down Lowry went viral in social media, but the once stocky guard hasn’t slimmed down for the cameras, no this Raptor is getting ready for an 82 game schedule and a long playoff run.