Raptors Rumors

Celtics, Raptors To Rest Hayward, Leonard

As we noted this morning, the Lakers plan to be cautious with LeBron James‘ minutes this season. Evidently following suit, the Celtics have announced that Gordon Hayward (link) will sit out tonight’s games against the Knicks. Additionally, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that the Raptors will rest Kawhi Leonard against the Wizards.

Per the Celtics, Hayward is out due to “left ankle recovery.” Of course, Hayward infamously broke his left ankle/leg in last season’s season opener in Cleveland. He missed the entire 2017/18 season and has experienced some obstacles and difficulties in returning from that devastating injury. Moreover, head coach Brad Stevens already indicated a minutes restriction may occur early on this season and tonight’s game is a back-to back.

As for Leonard, the Raptors are also playing a back-to-back tonight, having defeated Hayward’s Celtics last night, 113-101. His absence is being attributed to rest, but he also experienced a quadriceps injury last season, limiting him to nine games during the 2017/18 season, so it will be interesting to see how Toronto handles his minutes moving forward. Neither player is expected to miss extended time.

G League Notes: Moreland, Select Contracts, Harrison, Draft

Several NBA teams secured returning rights for players who were in camp with them but failed to make the 15-man roster. Raptors 905 acquired center Eric Moreland from the Canton Charge, Cleveland’s affiliate, for forward Kyle Wiltjer, according to a G League release. The Raptors waived Moreland a week ago. Raptors 905 pulled off a similar deal with the Texas Legends, the Mavericks’ affiliate, to acquire guard Kyle Collinsworth, who was waived at the same time as Moreland. Texas acquired the returning player rights to forwards C.J. Leslie and Kennedy Meeks, according to a G League release. The Delaware Blue Coats, the 76ers’ affiliate, gained the returning player rights of forward Cory Jefferson in a three-team swap with the Agua Caliente Clippers and the Legends, according to another G League post. The Sixers waived Jefferson on October 13th.

We have more from the G League:

  • The league is putting together a “working group” that will determine which players are eligible for select contracts, G League president Malcolm Turner said in a Q&A session posting on the league’s website. “That group will be charged with identifying appropriate, eligible, elite talent, not only in terms of on-court performance and potential, but also in terms overall readiness for the G League. In addition to identification, that working group will really help us monitor the rollout and execution of this professional path … that working group will be charged with developing its own framework and lens for eligible players.” Beginning next year, the G League will offer “select contracts” worth $125K to top prospects who are at least 18 years old but aren’t yet eligible for the NBA draft.
  • Numerous NBA and G league executives, coaches, agents and players feel the select contract concept is intriguing, but there is widespread skepticism how much appeal the program will have to top-level prospects and how it will be implemented. Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes a deep dive into the topic in a lengthy analysis piece.
  • The Arizona Suns traded away the returning player rights of Shaquille Harrison to the Memphis Hustle in a deal involving four players and a draft pick, according to another G League release. Harrison was the odd man out in the Suns’ point guard competition, as he was waived early this week. It was still somewhat surprising they traded away his rights. The Grizzlies gave themselves a little extra depth at the G League level as protection against another Mike Conley injury.
  • NBA veterans such as Willie Reed, Hakim Warrick, DeJuan Blair, and Arnett Moultrie could be among the higher selections in the annual G League draft, which takes place on Saturday, Adam Johnson of 2Ways10Days.com reports. The Salt Lake City Stars own the top pick.

NBA Teams With Open Roster Spots

When the Kings sign Troy Williams to a two-way contract after he clears waivers today, as is expected, they’ll become the 16th NBA team to fill all 17 of their available roster spots, with 15 players on standard contracts and two more on two-way pacts.

Still, that will leave nearly half of the league’s teams that will still have at least one opening on their rosters, either on the standard 15-man squad or in their two-way slots.

For many clubs, that decision is primarily financially motivated. Teams like the Warriors, Rockets, Thunder, Raptors, and Wizards all project to have pricey luxury tax bills at season’s end, so there’s no need for them to push those projected penalties higher by carrying an extra player they won’t use.

Other teams may simply prefer to preserve some roster flexibility rather than carrying a full 15-man squad. The Lakers, for instance, aren’t close to the tax line, but have an open roster spot for now. That could allow the team to make a trade or signing later to fortify its roster without costing anyone a job.

Listed below, with the help of our roster counts breakdown, are the teams that aren’t carrying full rosters.

Teams with an open 15-man roster spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Golden State Warriors
  • Houston Rockets
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Miami Heat
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Toronto Raptors
  • Washington Wizards
    • Note: The Wizards have two open roster spots and will need to fill one of them by October 30.

Teams with an open two-way slot:

  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Phoenix Suns
  • Portland Trail Blazers
    • Note: The Blazers have two open two-way slots.
  • San Antonio Spurs

Raptors Notes: Leonard, Siakam, Wright

Raptors fans have reasons to be both optimistic and pessimistic about the upcoming season, Laura Armstrong of the Toronto Star explains. The addition of Kawhi Leonard lands on both of Armstrong’s lists.

The former NBA Finals MVP is a premier talent, who has the ability to lead Toronto to the NBA Finals (something multiple members of our staff predict will happen). However, Leonard is also a reason for pessimism since he could walk after the season when he hits free agency.

Here’s more from Toronto:

  • Kyle Lowry was upset when the Raptors traded away his friend, DeMar DeRozan, and Armstrong (same piece) wonders how the point guard will react if the team faces adversity. The scribe argues that any anger Lowry still has could fuel his play but it could also lead to trouble within the team.
  • Pascal Siakam could be a breakout star for the Raptors this season, Doug Smith of The Toronto Star writes. “His handle has kind of been there,” coach Nick Nurse said of Siakam. “It’s just giving him the freedom to do it and that comes with everybody realizing he can do it.”
  • The Raptors and Delon Wright didn’t come to an agreement on an extension by this year’s deadline. GM Bobby Webster said it was a “mutual thing,” as Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Star tweets. Webster added that he expects Wright to improve on his impressive 2017/18 season and the team will talk deals with the guard after the season when he’s eligible for restricted free agency.

Raptors Waive Malcolm Miller

The Raptors have completed their series of transactions involving Malcolm Miller, as the team waived him on Saturday, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (via Twitter). This move was expected, as it was the final step in the team’s plan to allow Miller to recover from a torn labrum that he suffered in Summer League play.

Murphy previously explained that the Raptors’ plan was to sign Miller to an Exhibit 10 contract, waive him, and then allow him to rehab the injury with the Raptors 905. As a result of this series of transactions, the young forward will receive an Exhibit 10 bonus and stick with the organization while he recovers.

Miller is on track to potentially get back on the court in January, Murphy adds.

As a result of the team waiving him on Saturday, Miller will clear waivers before opening day and won’t count on Toronto’s cap sheet at all.

2018 Offseason In Review: Toronto Raptors

Hoops Rumors is breaking down the 2018 offseason for all 30 NBA teams, revisiting the summer’s free agent signings, trades, draft picks, departures, and more. We’ll evaluate each team’s moves from the last several months and look ahead to what the 2018/19 season holds for all 30 franchises. Today, we’re focusing on the Toronto Raptors.

Signings:

  • Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors verticalStandard contracts:
    • Fred VanVleet: Two years, $18MM. Re-signed using Bird rights.
    • Greg Monroe: One year, minimum salary. Signed using minimum salary exception.
    • Lorenzo Brown: One year, minimum salary. Partially guaranteed ($800K). Re-signed using minimum salary exception.
  • Two-way contracts:
  • Non-guaranteed camp contracts:

Trades:

Draft picks:

  • None

Departing players:

Other offseason news:

Salary cap situation:

  • Remained over the cap.
  • Carrying approximately $139.8MM in guaranteed salaries.
  • Projected tax bill of $34.5MM.
  • Full taxpayer mid-level exception ($5.34MM) still available.

Check out the Toronto Raptors’ full roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com.


Story of the summer:

During the summer of 2017, after a second straight dispiriting postseason loss to the Cavaliers, the Raptors doubled down on their core, re-signing Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka to lucrative new contracts and bringing back head coach Dwane Casey. With the help of a new offensive scheme – attributed in large part to assistant Nick Nurse – Toronto earned the No. 1 seed in the East last season, winning a franchise-best 59 games.

However, after the Cavaliers once again dismantled the Raptors in the playoffs, the team couldn’t simply run it back again. Casey, despite being named the NBA’s Coach of the Year, was dismissed and replaced by Nurse. And DeMar DeRozan, the team’s MVP in 2017/18, was sent to San Antonio in a blockbuster trade that landed the Raptors Kawhi Leonard, a legit two-way star.

The acquisition of Leonard was a huge roll of the dice for president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri, who later told reporters that the two-time All-NBA forward represents the sort of perennial MVP candidate that the Raptors have never had on their roster before. That’s undoubtedly true, but Kawhi is also coming off a season in which he only played nine games due to a quad injury. Plus, he’s eligible for free agency in 2019, meaning his stay in Toronto could be short-lived.

It’s a thrilling gamble for a team that needed to take one. Even with longtime tormentor LeBron James no longer in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors were about to be surpassed by the Celtics and Sixers and were no lock to take a step forward in 2018/19 with their old roster. Ujiri’s offseason shakeup raises Toronto’s ceiling for 2018/19.

Read more

Roster, Contract Deadlines Loom For NBA Teams

Monday, October 15 is the last day of the 2018 NBA offseason and serves as the deadline for a number of roster- and contract-related decisions. Here are the deadlines that teams around the NBA are facing on Monday:

  • Roster limits decrease from 20 players to 15 (plus two two-way players).
  • Last day for teams to sign a player to a rookie scale extension. [RELATED: Players eligible for rookie scale extensions]
  • Last day for teams to sign a player to a veteran extension in certain scenarios. Extension-eligible veteran contracts with more than one season remaining can’t be extended after October 15; designated veteran extensions can’t be signed after October 15.
  • Last day for teams to complete sign-and-trade deals.
  • Last day for teams to convert an Exhibit 10 contract into a two-way contract.

While Monday is technically the roster cutdown deadline, many clubs will make their final moves today. That’s because players on non-guaranteed contracts must clear waivers before the first day of the regular season to avoid having their salaries begin to count against a team’s cap.

For instance, if the Suns were to keep non-guaranteed vets Isaiah Canaan and Richaun Holmes on their roster until Monday, then cut them, the team would be on the hook for a couple days’ worth of salary for each player, since the duo wouldn’t clear waivers until Wednesday. That’s not a huge chunk of money, but if clubs have already made their roster decisions, they’re more likely to just make their cuts today.

Teams who plan on releasing players with full or partial guarantees are more likely to wait until Sunday or Monday, since those salaries will count against their cap either way.

Outside of roster cuts, it will be interesting to see how many more teams reach rookie scale extension agreements with their fourth-year players by Monday night. Devin Booker, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Justise Winslow have signed new deals already, but 20 players remain eligible.

Larry Nance Jr. (Cavaliers), Bobby Portis (Bulls), Myles Turner (Pacers), and Delon Wright (Raptors) are among the strongest candidates for rookie scale extensions in the coming days, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe details. Lowe views Nance and Portis as the best bets in that group, though he also hears from sources that Wright’s agent – Greg Lawrence – will be in Toronto this weekend for some “last-minute meetings.” If those players and the rest who are eligible for rookie scale extensions don’t sign new contracts by Monday, they’ll be on track for restricted free agency in 2019.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider-only link), there are also 30 extension-eligible players on veteran contracts who won’t be able to get an in-season extension after Monday’s deadline passes. If an extension-eligible veteran has just one year remaining on his contract, he remains extension-eligible through Monday. But for players with multiple years left, Monday is the 2018/19 deadline. Draymond Green (Warriors), Eric Gordon (Rockets), Jae Crowder (Jazz), and E’Twaun Moore (Pelicans) are among the players in that group, per Marks, who says not to expect a new deal for Green.

Finally, while I don’t think we’ll see any sign-and-trade deals within the next couple days, Monday’s deadline is worth noting for a player like restricted free agent Patrick McCaw. Talks between McCaw and the Warriors still appear to be at a stalemate, so a sign-and-trade arrangement could be a viable option for both sides. However, that can’t happen after Monday.

Raptors Re-Sign Malcolm Miller

5:50pm: The Raptors have made Miller’s signing official, Murphy tweets.

3:56pm: The Raptors are expected to re-sign Malcolm Miller, a source tells Blake Murphy of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Murphy, the deal is pending a physical.

Miller, 25, spent the 2017/18 season on a two-way contract with the Raptors, appearing in 15 games for the NBA squad and averaging 12.6 PPG and 5.1 RPG in 34 games for the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate. The club initially tendered him a two-way qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent, but withdrew that QO after he suffered a dislocated shoulder during Summer League play.

Murphy, who classifies that injury as a torn labrum, writes that the Raptors’ plan is to sign Miller to an Exhibit 10 contract, waive him, and then allow him to rehab the injury with the Raptors 905. The series of transactions will allow the young forward to receive an Exhibit 10 bonus and stick with the organization while he recovers.

Miller is on track to potentially get back on the court in January, Murphy adds.

Raptors Waive Four, Convert Boucher To Two-Way Deal

The Raptors appear to have set their roster for the regular season, announcing today in a pair of press releases that they’ve waived four players from their roster and converted Chris Boucher‘s Exhibit 10 deal into a two-way contract. The club now has 16 players under contract, including a pair on two-way deals.

According to the club, forward Deng Adel, center Eric Moreland, and guards Kyle Collinsworth and Kay Felder were all released today. Boucher presumably beat out Moreland for Toronto’s second two-way contract slot, since the team wanted to keep an extra big man. Guard Jordan Loyd currently holds the other two-way deal for the Raptors.

Boucher, a Montreal native, spent last season with Golden State on a two-way contract. He appeared in just one game for the NBA squad, but posted 11.8 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 2.2 BPG in 20 games for Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League.

If they don’t make any other roster moves before Monday’s deadline, the Raptors will enter the season with an open spot on their 15-man roster. That comes as no surprise, since carrying a 15th player to start the year would increase Toronto’s projected tax bill and reduce the club’s flexibility.

Adel, Moreland, Collinsworth, and Felder will all clear waivers and become free agents on Sunday, assuming they go unclaimed.

2018/19 Over/Unders: Atlantic Division

The 2018/19 NBA regular season will get underway in just eight days, which means it’s time to start getting serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign. With the help of the lines from Bovada and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division, to have you weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.

We’ll kick things off today with the Atlantic division…

Boston Celtics

(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Celtics poll)


Toronto Raptors

(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Raptors poll)


Philadelphia 76ers

(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Sixers poll)


Brooklyn Nets

(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Nets poll)


New York Knicks

(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Knicks poll)