Archive for the ‘ Toronto Raptors Blog ’ Category

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

 

 

A post shared by Fred VanVleet (@fredvanvleet) on

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.

Full article

A post shared by Toronto Raptors (@raptors) on

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.

Full article

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.

Full article

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.

Delon Wright out with shoulder injury

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday that test results confirmed guard Delon Wright sustained an injury consistent with a dislocated right shoulder. The injury occurred in the second quarter of Toronto’s game November 15 at New Orleans.

Wright had surgery on the same shoulder Aug. 1, 2016 following an NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas.

Wright will travel with the team to New York City next week for further consultation with Dr. Riley Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

Jonas Valanciunas out with ankle sprain

Jonas Valanciunas out with ankle sprain

Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas is out with a sprained left ankle.

Valanciunas travelled with the team on its six-game road trip, which begins Monday against San Antonio.
The injury occurred after Valanciunas landed on the foot of the Philadelphia 76ers’ Dario Saric in the second quarter of Saturday night’s game. He did not return.

His condition will be evaluated on a regular basis.

Raptors waive K.J. McDaniels

The Toronto Raptors have waived forward K.J. McDaniels. McDaniels appeared in three preseason games, totaling six points, five rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes. He was inactive for the first two games of the regular season. Toronto’s roster now stands at 16 players.

Raptors exercise contract options on Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam and Delon Wright

The Toronto Raptors announced Monday they have exercised the third-year team options on the Rookie Scale Contracts of centre Jakob Poeltl and forward Pascal Siakam and the fourth-year team option on the Rookie Scale Contract of guard Delon Wright.

The contracts for Poeltl, Siakam and Wright are now guaranteed through the 2018-19 season.

In accordance with the league’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Raptors had until October 31 to exercise their option on all three players.

Poeltl, 7-foot, 248 pounds, was selected by the Raptors with the ninth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. He averaged 3.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 0.4 blocks and 11.6 minutes in 54 games last season. Poeltl scored in double figures three times and led the team in rebounds twice.

Siakam, 6-foot-9, 230 pounds, was the 27th overall pick by the Raptors in the 2016 NBA Draft. He posted averages of 4.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 0.8 blocks and 15.6 minutes in 55 games (38 starts) last season. Siakam was also named NBA G League Finals MVP after helping Raptors 905 defeat Rio Grande Valley in The Finals, averaging 23.0 points and 9.0 rebounds over the three-game series.

Wright, 6-foot-5, 183 pounds was chosen by Toronto with the 20th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. He averaged 5.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 16.5 minutes in 27 games last season. Wright scored in double digits seven times and paced the club in assists on five occasions. He missed the first 41 games (October 26 - January 17) following right shoulder surgery. Wright is averaging 4.7 points, 1.6 rebound, 1.6 assists and 12.5 minutes in 54 career games.

Raptors waive Davion Berry

Raptors waive Davion Berry

The Toronto Raptors announced Saturday they have waived guard Davion Berry. He was originally signed October 11 and did not appear in any preseason games.

With preseason ending Friday and the regular season starting Tuesday, teams around the NBA are trimming down their rosters and saying farewell to the vast majority of players who were signed just for training camp purposes.

Toronto’s roster now stands at 17 players.

Raptors sign Davion Berry

The Toronto Raptors have signed guard Davion Berry.

Berry, 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, has appeared in 56 career NBA G League games with the Maine Red Claws (2014-16) and Raptors 905 (2015-16), averaging 9.4 points, 2.9 assists and 24.0 minutes. He has also played professionally in Germany (2016-17), Greece (2016-17), South Korea (2015-16) and Italy (2014-15).

Berry played two collegiate seasons at Cal State Monterey Bay (2009-11) before transferring to Weber State (2012-14). He averaged 17.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 32.6 minutes in 68 career games with the Wildcats and twice earned Big Sky All-Conference First Team honours.

Basketball blog