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Raptors sign center Greg Monroe

Raptors sign center Greg Monroe

The Toronto Raptors’ signing of center Greg Monroe became official today.

Per multiple reports, it’s just a one-year deal.

“Greg is a proven big man in this league,” said Raptors General Manager Bobby Webster. “We believe Greg’s experience will be a great addition to not only our frontcourt, but to our team culture as we continue to build towards our goal of an NBA championship.”

Monroe is capable of delivering some instant offense, but isn’t known for his defense. He will likely play backup to starting center Jonas Valanciunas, and perhaps play some limited minutes as a backup to power forward Serge Ibaka.

Standing 6-foot-11, 265 pounds, Monroe averaged 10.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 20.4 minutes in 51 games (14 starts) with Milwaukee, Phoenix and Boston last season. He shot .565 (218-386) from the field and recorded nine double-doubles. Monroe appeared in 11 postseason games with the Celtics, averaging 4.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 9.5 minutes.

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Monroe owns career averages of 13.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 28.9 minutes in 589 NBA games (415 starts) with Detroit, Milwaukee, Phoenix and Boston. He has averaged at least 10.0 points in each of the last seven seasons.

Monroe was originally selected by the Pistons with the seventh overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. He played collegiately at Georgetown, posting averages of 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds and 32.6 minutes in 65 career games (2008-10). Monroe was named First Team All-Big East as a sophomore and selected Big East Rookie of the Year his freshman season.

The big Raptors story of the summer was their trade of DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard. And one of the biggest stories entering the season will be if Leonard is healthy and if he’s as effective as he was prior to injury.

Raptors sign Jordan Loyd to two-way contract

The Toronto Raptors today signed guard Jordan Loyd to a two-way contract.

Loyd, 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, averaged 17.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 33.3 minutes in 38 games last season with Hapoel Eilat in Israel. He shot .482 (219-454) from the field and .399 (75-188) from three-point range.

Loyd spent the 2016-17 season with Fort Wayne of the NBA G League. He averaged 15.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 28.4 minutes in 49 games. Loyd was picked 48th overall by the Mad Ants in the 2016 NBA G League Draft.

A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Loyd played three seasons at Indianapolis (2013-16) after transferring from Furman (2012-13). He was selected to the All-GLVC First Team and All-GLVC Defensive Team as a senior with the Greyhounds.

Loyd recently participated with the Raptors’ entry at NBA Summer League 2018 in Las Vegas, averaging of 8.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 17.3 minutes in four games.

Raptors hire Adrian Griffin, Phil Handy, Sergio Scariolo and Nate Bjorkgren as assistant coaches

The Toronto Raptors have hired Adrian Griffin, Sergio Scariolo, Nate Bjorkgren and Phil Handy as assistant coaches. The group will join Patrick Mutumbo, Jim Sann and Eric Khoury to form head coach Nick Nurse’s staff for the 2018-19 season.

“Adrian, Sergio, Nate and Phil each bring something different to our staff and our team. They have a blend of experiences that will give our team a unique perspective,” Nurse said. “We’ve already had substantive conversations about where Raptors basketball is and where we intend to go, and we can’t wait to get to work in earnest.”

The big Raptors change this offseason was the recent trade of DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs for Kawhi Leonard. It is presumed that Leonard actually will play for the Raptors, but speculation looms that there’s a chance he could be traded again before the start of the 2018-19 regular season. But for now, Leonard is a Raptor. He joins guard Kyle Lowry as the team’s main stars, with a supporting cast that includes center Jonas Valanciunas, power forward Serge Ibaka and shooting guard Danny Green, who was part of that same Spurs-Raptors trade.

As for the team’s new assistant coaches, Griffin joins the Raptors following two seasons as an assistant coach with Oklahoma City (2016-18). In addition to the Thunder, Griffin has previous assistant coaching stints with Orlando (2015-16), Chicago (2010-15) and Milwaukee (2008-10). He began his coaching career as assistant coach/player development with the Bucks. During the summer of 2014, Griffin also worked with the USA Basketball Men’s National Team that captured the gold medal at the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Griffin played nine NBA seasons with Boston, Dallas, Houston, Chicago and Seattle. He averaged 4.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 16.8 minutes in 477 regular-season appearances. Griffin also played in 48 playoff games and was part of the 2006 Dallas team that reached the NBA Finals. Prior to the NBA, Griffin played for the Atlantic City Seagulls (USBL), Connecticut Pride (CBA), Roseto (Italy) and Long Island Surf (USBL). In 1998-99, he was named CBA Most Valuable Player and Finals MVP while leading Connecticut to the championship. Griffin played collegiately for four seasons at Seton Hall (1992-94) and was inducted into the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.

Scariolo joins the Raptors following a successful coaching career in Europe that spans 20 years. Since 2009, he has led the Spanish National Team as head coach and guided the program to a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and a bronze medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janerio. Spain has also won the FIBA Eurobasket tournament three times (2009, 2011 and 2015) under his watch.

A native of Brescia, Italy, Scariolo got his first head coaching job in 1989 with Vuelle Pesaro and led the club to the 1990 Italian League championship. He was also named Italian League Coach of the Year in 1994 with Fortitudo Bologna. In 1997, Scariolo moved to Spain and led Tau Ceramica to the 1999 Spanish Cup before joining Real Madrid later that year. He went on to claim the Spanish Cup and the Spanish League title during his first season at Real Madrid and was named Spanish League AEEB Coach of the Year in 2000. In 2003, Scariolo joined Unicaja and led the club to the 2005 Spanish Cup, 2006 Spanish League title and an appearance in the 2007 EuroLeague Final Four. Scariolo has also coached Khimki Moscow (2008-10), Olimpia Milano (2011-13) and Saski Baskonia (2013-14).

Bjorkgren joined the Raptors as an advance scout during the 2017-18 season following two seasons as an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns (2015-17). Prior to joining the Suns, he had a successful tenure as a head coach in the NBA G League, amassing a 126-74 (.630) record in four seasons with the Bakersfield Jam (2014-15), Iowa Energy (2013-14), Santa Cruz Warriors (2012-13) and Dakota Wizards (2011-12). Bjorkgren was as an assistant coach on Nurse’s staff in Iowa from 2007-11, helping the Energy win the 2010-11 NBA G League Championship.

A native of Storm Lake, Iowa, Bjorkgren played collegiately at Buena Vista University and the University of South Dakota. At Buena Vista, he led the Beavers to their first conference title in 21 years in 1997

Handy joins the Raptors following five seasons (2013-18) with the Cleveland Cavaliers as director, player development/assistant coach, and two seasons (2011-13) as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

A native of San Leandro, California, Handy has strong ties to the Bay Area where he spent five years (2006-11) coaching young talent with the AAU Club Team 94 and training NBA players during the off-season. He ran his own basketball training business for over 13 years, working with top level talent in the from NBA, Europe and the collegiate ranks.

Handy was a standout at the University of Hawaii, earning WAC All-Defensive Player of the Year and All-Newcomer honours. He had two NBA stints as a player with Golden State and Portland.

His professional playing career also included stops in Israel, France, England, Germany, Italy and Australia.

The Toronto Raptors have re-signed guard Lorenzo Brown and have signed forward Chris Boucher.

Brown, 6-foot-5, 189 pounds, signed a two-way contract with the Raptors last July. He was named the 2017-18 NBA G League Most Valuable Player, averaging team highs of 18.8 points, 8.9 assists, 1.8 steals and 33.2 minutes in 32 games (all starts) for Raptors 905. He also played in 14 games with the Raptors, averaging 2.3 points, 1.1 rebounds and 9.9 minutes.

A native of Roswell, Georgia, Brown is averaging 3.1 points, 2.0 assists, 1.6 rebounds and 12.6 minutes in 77 career NBA games with Philadelphia (2013-14), Minnesota (2014-15), Phoenix (2015-16) and Toronto. He was selected 52nd overall by the Timberwolves in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Brown played three seasons at North Carolina State (2010-13) and was named Second Team All-ACC his junior year.

Boucher, 6-foot-10, 200 pounds, recently participated with the Raptors’ entry in NBA Summer League 2018 in Las Vegas, averaging 10.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 blocks and 20.8 minutes in four games. He shot .500 (15-for-30) from the field and .364 (4-11) from three-point range.

Boucher spent last season with the Golden State Warriors after signing a two-way contract with the club. He appeared in one game with the Warriors and averaged 11.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 22.2 minutes in 20 games for the Santa Cruz Warriors, their NBA G League affiliate.

Boucher, who grew up in Montreal, Quebec, played collegiately at Oregon (2015-2017) and was named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team and was a Pac-12 All-Conference Honourable Mention as both a junior and senior.

The San Antonio Spurs have obtained guard DeMar DeRozan, center Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first round pick from the Toronto Raptors in a trade for forward Kawhi Leonard and guard Danny Green.

DeRozan was named to the 2018 All-NBA Second Team after averaging 23.0 points, 5.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds in 33.9 minutes in 80 games last season with Toronto. The 6-7, 220-pound guard shot .456 (645-1,413) from the field, .310 (89-287) from three-point range and .825 (461-559) from the free throw line. A four-time All-Star, DeRozan holds career averages of 19.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists in 675 games over nine NBA seasons. He earned All-NBA Third Team honors following the 2016-17 season when he ranked fifth in the league in scoring, averaging a career-best 27.3 points.

The ninth overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, DeRozan is one of 10 players in the league to average 20-or-more points in each of the last five seasons and has been named to three straight NBA All-Star teams. A gold medalist on the 2016 USA Olympic Team, he has earned Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors nine times and has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Month three times (April 2015, January 2016 and January 2018).

Appearing in all 82 games, Poeltl averaged 6.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.22 blocks in 18.6 minutes for Toronto during the 2017-18 season. Selected by the Raptors with the ninth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, the 7-0, 230-pound center has appeared in 136 games in his two-year NBA career, averaging 5.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in 15.8 minutes. Poeltl holds a career field goal percentage of .641 (320-499), which ranks fifth in the NBA among all players with at least 300 field goals made in the last two seasons.

Poeltl is both the first Austrian to be selected in the NBA Draft and to appear in an NBA game. He played two seasons at the University of Utah, earning All-American second team honors as a sophomore during the 2015-16 season. Poeltl was also named the 2016 Pac-10 Player of the Year and won the 2016 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award as the top center in college basketball.

Leonard is a two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year (2015, 2016) and twice was named First Team All-NBA (2016, 2017).

Leonard joins the Raptors after spending his entire seven-year NBA career with San Antonio and helped the Spurs win the 2014 NBA Championship. He holds career averages of 16.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and a .386 three-point shooting percentage (529-1370) in 407 career games. The Los Angeles native averaged a career-best 25.5 points in 74 games during the 2016-17 season and was third in NBA Most Valuable Player voting. In 87 career playoff games, Leonard averaged 16.5 points, 7.3 rebounds and is shooting .427 from beyond the arc (125-293). He was named the MVP of the 2014 NBA Finals after averaging 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and shot .579 (11-for-19) in five games against Miami.

Green spent the last eight seasons with San Antonio, averaging 9.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists in 25.8 minutes per game. In 520 games with the Spurs, Green posted a .396 (959-2421) average from three-point range and was a key contributor to the team’s 2014 NBA Championship title. A native of New York, Green played 70 games (60 starts) for the Spurs last season averaging 8.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 25.6 minutes. He was named to the NBA All Defensive Second Team during the 2016-17 campaign.

Raptors re-sign Fred VanVleet

The Toronto Raptors have re-signed guard Fred VanVleet to a multi-year contract.

The deal is reportedly a two-year, $18 million contract.

“We all know Fred’s personal motto is ‘Bet on Yourself.’ We know that Fred is no gamble – he’s hardworking, dedicated, and smart, and has been fantastic for us,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said. “We’re thrilled he’ll be a big part of the Toronto Raptors for seasons to come.”

VanVleet was a finalist for the 2018 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award after a season which saw him average a career-high 20.0 minutes, 8.6 points and 3.2 assists in 76 games.

He was a key contributor to the success of the Raptors’ reserve unit that ranked first in NBA scoring (44.3) after Jan. 1. VanVleet ranked first overall on the team with a .414 three-point shooting percentage and was 12th among reserves in the NBA with 108 three-pointers made. He scored a career-best 25 points on Jan. 28 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers, beginning a streak of nine consecutive games in double-figure scoring. He averaged 12.8 points during this stretch. In all, VanVleet has appeared in 113 regular-season games over two seasons with Toronto, averaging 6.8 points, 2.5 assists and shooting .410 (119-for-290) from three-point range.

A native of Rockford, Illinois, VanVleet joined the Raptors as an undrafted free agent in 2016 following a four-year collegiate career at Wichita State University. He appeared in 37 games during his rookie season, averaging 2.9 points and 0.9 assists. VanVleet also appeared in 16 NBA G League games with Raptors 905, averaging 16.9 points, 7.6 assists and shot .407 (22-for-54) from long distance. In a decisive Game 3 of the NBA G League Finals, VanVleet recorded a double-double (28 points and 14 assists) to help Raptors 905 claim its first championship title.

Jama Mahlalela has been named head coach of Raptors 905, who are the Toronto Raptors’ G League affiliate. Mahlalela becomes the third head coach in team history and joins the club following five seasons as an assistant coach at the NBA level.

“We are very excited to add Jama as our new head coach,” said Raptors 905 General Manager, Dan Tolzman. “After proving himself as an assistant on the Raptors staff, having an opportunity to run his own team is a major step in his development as a coach. Jama has played a big part in developing our young Raptors core, and we look forward to him continuing to do so from the Raptors 905 sideline. He is an example of what homegrown talent can achieve in this growing global game.”

A native of Mbabane, Swaziland, Mahlalela grew up in the Greater Toronto Area and played collegiately for five years at the University of British Columbia. He served as an assistant coach at the University of Toronto and worked at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment as a member of the community development staff, organizing Raptors Basketball Academy and various clinics throughout Canada. Mahlalela was later named director of basketball operations for NBA Asia and oversaw the League’s clinics, youth programs and elite-level development from his base in Hong Kong.

In 2011 Mahlalela joined the Raptors front office as director of player development, where he served for two seasons. He moved to the bench in 2013-14 helping with the team’s practice and game planning, individual player skill development and off-season programs. During the summers Mahlalela has been an active member in Masai Ujiri’s Giants of Africa camps and the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program.

“I am excited and grateful for the wonderful opportunity to coach the Raptors 905 team,” said Mahlalela. “I am eager to share my passion for the development of this sport with our young players and hope to use my previous experience as a Raptors assistant coach to reinforce and strengthen the connection between the two programs. My family and I would like to extend our sincere thanks to Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster, Dan Tolzman, Larry Tanenbaum and the entire ownership group.”

Mahlalela takes over a Raptors 905 team that has appeared in the NBA G League Finals in back-to-back seasons. He will be a part of the Raptors coaching squad for the 2018 Las Vegas Summer League next month.

Raptors hire Nick Nurse as head coach

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday they have named Nick Nurse as the team’s new head coach.

Nurse becomes the ninth head coach in franchise history after spending the past five seasons as an assistant coach with the Raptors along with successful coaching tenures in the NBA G League and overseas.

“Nick is an innovative coach who has a tremendous basketball IQ, and a unique approach to the x’s and o’s. We’ve valued his creativity and dedication as he focused on making our offense one of the best in the NBA, and we believe that he will bring those qualities to his new role as head coach,” team president Masai Ujiri said. “This is an exciting and important season for the Raptors, and I believe Nick’s strong leadership and focus on winning are qualities which will help lead us to our ultimate goal, which is a championship.”

Nurse, 50, joined the Raptors in 2013 and helped construct an offensive system that ranked among in the NBA’s top 10 in three of five seasons. During the 2017-18 campaign the Raptors set franchise records for points per game (111.7) and three-pointers made (968).

“I’m proud to take on the role of head coach of the Toronto Raptors, and to continue to work with the exceptional players we have here,” Nurse said. “I’m grateful to Masai, Bobby, Larry Tanenbaum and the MLSE ownership for this opportunity. Toronto and the Raptors organization has been my home for the past five years, and I’ve watched this group grow and succeed together. I’m looking forward to more of that this season, and to working towards our shared goal, which is to earn the right to call ourselves NBA Champions.”

Prior to joining the Raptors, Nurse spent six seasons in the NBA G League as head coach for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (2011-13) and the Iowa Energy (2007-11). He compiled a regular-season record of 183-117 (.610), which ranks second all-time in NBA G League history for most victories. Nurse also has the most playoff victories in the league’s history with a 15-6 (.714) record. He is the only coach to lead two different teams to an NBA G League Championship.

During his final season with Rio Grande Valley, Nurse led the Vipers to a 35-15 record and the 2012-13 NBA G League title. Before joining the Vipers, Nurse led Iowa to the 2010-11 G League Championship and was the recipient of the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award.

Nurse, a native of Carroll, Iowa, played collegiately at Northern Iowa and stayed on as an assistant coach during the 1989-90 season. He travelled overseas to become player-coach of the Derby Storm in the British Basketball League (BLL) for one season before being named head coach at Grand View College in Iowa.

Following two seasons as an assistant coach at South Dakota, Nurse returned to Great Britain where he coached the Birmingham Bullets (1995-96), Manchester Giants (1998-2000), London Towers (2000-01) and Brighton Bears (2000-06). He won two BLL championships in 1996 and 2000, and was named Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2003. Nurse also earned six all-star head coach selections.

Nurse also gained coaching experience in Italy, Belgium, the USBL and served as an assistant coach for the British National Team during the 2012 Olympics in London.

Raptors fire coach Dwane Casey

Despite finishing this regular season with the most wins in franchise history, the Toronto Raptors, recently swept 4-0 in the second round of the 2018 NBA playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers, fired head coach Dwane Casey today.

“After careful consideration, I have decided this is a very difficult but necessary step the franchise must take. As a team, we are constantly trying to grow and improve in order to get to the next level,” said Raptors President Masai Ujiri. “We celebrate everything Dwane has done for the organization, we thank him, and we wish him nothing but the best in future. He was instrumental in creating the identity and culture of who we are as a team, and we are so proud of that.”

According to the Canadian Press, “Casey was fired two days after winning the Michael H. Goldberg coach of the year award, which is handed out by the National Basketball Coaches Association. The Raptors’ historic season came after Ujiri called for a “culture reset” last off-season. Toronto revamped its offence to focus on three-point shooting and better ball movement, and focused on developing the bench, which became the envy of the league.”

Casey on June 21, 2011 became the eighth head coach in Raptors history. His record over seven seasons was 320-238 (.573), and those seasons include the only three 50-win seasons in franchise history. Under Casey, the Raptors won four Atlantic Division titles and advanced to the postseason in a franchise record five consecutive seasons. He was the longest-tenured coach in team history and is the franchise’s all-time winningest coach.

In 2017-2018, the Raptors won a franchise record 59 games and earned the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time in team history.

Per the Toronto Sun, “Casey had defended himself on Wednesday amid speculation he would be ousted, saying he was “an easy target.” “I take it. I’m a big boy. I’ve been through it. I know where we started here, I know what we’ve accomplished, I know the basketball world how they feel about us and respect us and what we’re doing, so it’s part of the territory,” Casey said at the time.”

Fan reaction and discussion of this news is here.

A look at the state of the Raptors

What do you do if you’re the Raptors? Clearly among the East’s best, yet still unable to past LeBron James’ Cavs in the playoffs. Though, barely anybody gets past LeBron’s Cavs. The best of the West, sometimes, but rarely anyone else. If you have a very good but not super-great thing, you don’t break it up, right? Here’s the Toronto Sun reviewing the state of the Raptors:

The Raptors limped to the finish line with a 9-6 record and only the 13th-best defence in the NBA in that span, after going 41-16 with the fourth-best defence prior to the lull. The dreary ending to the regular season included a pair of losses against Cleveland and one to Boston.

If you consider that too small of a sample size to prove these Raptors weren’t as good as we all thought they were based on their overall record, here’s more damning data, small sample size or not: Toronto went 9-11 against opponents ranked in the top 10 in offensive efficiency. Only Cleveland was less efficient on defence against those squads, proving once again that LeBron James sure can make up for a lot of issues.

They let James and the Cavs shoot a franchise playoff-best from the field in the closeout game and surrendered two of the highest-scoring performances by the Cavs in their post-season history. The brilliance of James accounts for much of that, but not all of it…

The NBA will hold its draft lottery on Tuesday and once again the Raptors will be absent from the proceedings. This year, the team won’t even be in the draft at all, barring a trade, thanks to earlier transactions.

Full article

The Raptors were an excellent team almost all regular season, winning 59 games (second most in the entire league) and clearly played at a higher level than in the past. And started strong in the playoffs, winning their first two at home against Washington. But the Wizards did what was needed and defended homecourt in DC, tying the series 2-2. We have a battle on our hands. Here’s the Toronto Star with more:

Maybe Casey’s team will respond more favourably in the friendly environs of the Air Canada Centre. As it was, the Raptors capped a forgettable trip to the U.S. capital with a second straight loss, 106-98, to leave their best-of-seven series deadlocked at 2-2. For the second straight game the Raptors saw an early lead undone by careless turnovers and unforced mistakes. For the second straight game, the Wizards got a big performance from Bradley Beal to vault themselves back into the series. Even after Beal fouled out with 4:58 to play — after he scored 31 points on 19 field-goal attempts — the Wizards got it over the finish line. John Wall inserted a dagger, making one of his floating mid-range jump shots to put the Wizards up 102-96 with 58 seconds to play. Wall, for whom the Raptors have yet to find an antidote, finished with 25 points and 14 assists.

Yet again, Toronto’s vaunted depth failed to show itself, leaving all-stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry to carry far more of the load than they did en route to 59 regular-season wins. DeRozan responded to a steady diet of single coverage with a big game, scoring 35 points and getting to the free-throw line 18 times. Lowry, meanwhile, scored 19 points, going 4-for-6 from three-point range. But Toronto’s other starters were less effective. And Toronto’s bench, which averaged 42 points a game during the regular season, contributed just 22 points. C.J. Miles was 0-for-3 from three-point range. Delon Wright had just seven points on seven shots.

Full article

The Toronto Raptors have converted guard Lorenzo Brown to a standard NBA contract. Brown, who signed a two-way contract July 25, 2017, is now eligible to participate for the Raptors in the playoffs.

Brown has appeared in 14 games with the Raptors this season. Averaging 2.3 points, 1.1 rebounds and 9.8 minutes. He scored a season-high 11 points Apr. 9 at Detroit and recorded a season-best five assists Jan. 11 vs. Cleveland.

Brown was selected as the 2017-18 MVP of the NBA G League on Apr. 10 after averaging team highs of 18.8 points, 8.9 assists and 1.78 steals in 32 games (all starts) for Raptors 905. He also averaged 5.2 rebounds and shot .468 from the field. Raptors 905 (31-19) went 25-7 with Brown in the lineup.

On Raptors success this season

Maybe you could see it in Casey’s reaction to C.J. Miles’ great performance in a win over the Orlando Magic on Sunday, when Miles made five of 10 three-pointers.

“It’s huge. We need more. We need more,” said Casey, speaking of Miles’ good gunning. “If we’re going to be a three-point-shooting team, we’ve got to be a three-point-making team … It’s great to see C.J. (shooting well). We need C.J.’s threes with the second unit, because I think he makes the second unit click.”

A big part of Toronto’s offensive transformation this season has started from behind the arc — and not only, as Casey said, with Miles spreading the floor for Toronto’s vaunted bench mob. A year after ranking among the league’s bottom 10 teams in three-pointers attempted and made — a behind-the-times stat that had president Masai Ujiri demanding change — this year the Raptors are chucking at franchise record-shattering levels. Heading into Monday’s games only one playoff-bound team had shot more threes than the Raptors (that’d be Houston). Only two playoff-bound teams had made more threes than Toronto (Houston and Cleveland).

Toronto Star

The Toronto Raptors have signed forward Nigel Hayes to a second 10-day contract.

Hayes, 6-foot-8, 254 pounds, has appeared in two games for Toronto, scoring six points (2-2 FG, 2-2 3PT) in six minutes of action. Prior to joining the Raptors, Hayes split the season between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Westchester Knicks of the NBA G League.

Hayes signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers on Jan. 19, recording three points and two assists in 11 minutes in two games. He averaged 16.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 35.6 minutes in 38 games with the Knicks. Hayes shot .450 (227-for-505) from the field, .441 (94-for-213) from three-point range and .744 (64-for-86) at the free throw line. He scored 20-or-more points 10 times, including a season-high 37 points Nov. 7 at Delaware.

A native of Toledo, Ohio, Hayes played four seasons at Wisconsin (2013-17), averaging 12.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 29.6 minutes in 150 games. He finished his career ranked third on the school’s all-time scoring list (1,857) and is the only Badger in the top-10 in points, rebounds and assists. Hayes was selected All-Big Ten Third Team as a senior.

The Sacramento Kings today traded guard Malachi Richardson to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for forward Bruno Caboclo.

Originally selected 20th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, Caboclo has appeared in 34 games this season for Toronto’s G-League affiliate 905 Raptors, averaging 14.4 points (.396 FG%, .335 3pt%, .831 FT%), 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.33 steals, 1.65 blocks and 30.7 minutes per contest.

Richardson, 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, is averaging 3.5 points, 1.3 rebounds and 12.8 minutes in 25 games (four starts) this season.

Richardson owns career averages of 3.5 points, 1.2 rebounds and 11.0 minutes in 47 games. He has scored in double figures four times, including a career-high 12 points Jan. 25, 2017 at Cleveland. Richardson was selected 22nd overall in the 2016 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets. His draft rights were acquired by the Kings in exchange for forward Marco Belinelli.

Richardson played one season at Syracuse (2015-16), averaging 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 34.4 minutes in 37 games. He shot .353 (79-for-225) from three-point range and was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team.

Fred VanVleet playing well for Raptors

 

 

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The Raptors (33-15) have the second best record in the Eastern conference and have raised their overall both-ends-of-floor play this season. They’ve stumbled a bit recently, winning just five of their last 10 games, but overall are having an excellent season. They’ve also enjoyed solid play off the bench from guard Fred VanVleet, who in 18.0 minutes per game is putting up 7.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists per outing. Here’s the Toronto Star with more on his play:

Undrafted out of Wichita State after four years with the Shockers, a kid who made the most of a Summer League internship in 2016 to make the Raptors’ 15-man roster last season, VanVleet has become an indispensible cog on a 33-15 team — its backup point guard, which allows Delon Wright to harass bigger defenders as a shooting guard, a 40 per cent three-point shooter, and maybe the toughest guy on the team.

“That kid gets hit every time he goes in there . . . he hits the floor, gets up, gets back in the play. He’s not down there while the play’s going back,” Casey said of the 23-year-old native of Rockford, Ill., who missed practice Monday after the birth of his child.

“He’s an important part of what we do just because of his toughness. Size to him is nothing. He goes in there and challenges people.”

It is VanVleet’s fearlessness that impresses his teammates; they see a smallish guard not afraid to challenge big men at the rim, often ending with VanVleet crashing to the floor.

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The Raptors are 30-13 this season. A very impressive team that is doing it on both ends of the floor. They’re better than they were in the past. Will DeMar DeRozan be their only All-Star? Not if Raptors head coach Dwane Casey has anything to say about it. Kyle Lowry isn’t shooting as well or scoring as much this season, but he’s still one of the main reasons why Toronto is close to the top of league standings. Here’s the Toronto Star reporting:

Raptors coach Casey wants Kyle Lowry in All-Star game

Lowry finished eighth among Eastern Conference guards in voting for starters done by fans, the media and players and the only way he’ll get to the Feb. 18 game in Los Angeles is to be chosen by coaches as a reserve.

That’s where Casey comes in.

“I’ve been texting coaches and going to be in tough with a lot of coaches to get him in,” the Raptors bench boss said Friday morning. “He should be in on his own merits, I shouldn’t have to do that because he is an all-star.

“If you find five other better guards, point guards in our conference than Kyle then I want to see them. I think the basketball gods will do the right thing and get him in.”

Eastern Conference coaches have to name two guards, two forwards and a centre along with two “wild cards” for voting that will be announced Tuesday night.

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Raptors suspend Serge Ibaka one game

Toronto Raptors forward Serge Ibaka has been suspended by the team for one game after a violation of team rules.

The suspension stems from an altercation between Ibaka and a Raptors team staff member after their December 27 game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City.

Raptors president Masai Ujiri: “Both parties have apologized. We’ve discussed this internally as a team, and we won’t be discussing it any further.” … “Now we’re focused on moving forward together, and we look forward to having Serge back in the lineup.”

Ibaka won’t play tonight (Friday) night against the Hawks.

The Raptors are 23-9, which is the second best record in the Eastern conference. The Thunder are 19-15, tying them for the West’s 5th best winning percentage - though OKC are on a five-game winning streak and have been recently playing their best basketball of the season. The two teams battle tonight in OKC. It’s a matchup worth watching. Here’s the Norman Transcript reporting:

The Toronto Raptors have run through the Eastern Conference with a similar core and thus, a similar type of isolation-heavy offense over the past few years. But the Oklahoma City Thunder’s next opponent will look different than many fans might expect come Wednesday night.

Even with players like point guard Kyle Lowry and binge scorer DeMar DeRozan carrying over, the Raptors have implemented far more motion into their offense this year. They’re taking 36 percent fewer mid-range shots. And lately, DeRozan, who spent the first eight years of his career dominating on long 2s, has taken his success to the 3-point line. He’s hit 13 triples over the past three games.

It will be a special task for OKC defensive stopper Andre Roberson, who has guarded DeRozan well historically, but who will have to deal with a different type of player come Wednesday.

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Delon Wright out with shoulder injury

Delon Wright out with shoulder injury

Toronto Raptors guard Delon Wright visited specialist Dr. Riley Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery on Wednesday in New York. After consultation with Williams, it was decided no surgery is required at this time, the team announced.

Wright will continue his rehabilitation with team medical officials. There is no timetable for Wright’s return, but updates will be provided when appropriate.

Wright’s right shoulder was dislocated in the second quarter of a game at New Orleans on Nov. 15th. He had surgery on the same shoulder in August, 2016 after sustaining an injury during an NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas.

The 25-year-old guard has averaged 7.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 20.9 minutes this season for the Toronto Raptors.

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