New Raptors uniforms revealed for 2020-21 NBA season

The Toronto Raptors have unveiled three of the five uniforms the team will wear in the 2020-21 NBA season.

The now-familiar “north” pointing chevron remains a key element of the latest editions – it was first introduced on the jersey side panel in 2015-16 as part of the team’s rebrand.

The new Association and Icon Edition jerseys – white and red – both feature a chevron across the chest.

The new uniforms are reminiscent of the red Earned Edition jerseys worn for much of the 2019 postseason season and which the team sported on court the evening they captured the franchise’s first NBA Championship.

“Uniforms do matter to players. Our team made the choice to wear the Earned jerseys during the 2019 Finals, for example,” Raptors President Masai Ujiri said. “We want to give our players – and our fans – jerseys they’re proud to wear not just because they say Raptors on the front, not just because they’re a symbol of our city and country, but because they also look great. I think that’s what we’ve achieved with these.”

The Statement Edition jersey – black with red accents – tips the hat to the Raptors’ original “dinosaur” uniforms by running dark grey jagged pinstripes through the design. It will also be the only one of the five uniforms that has the Jordan Brand Jumpman logo on the right shoulder, replacing the Nike swoosh.

The concept was a collaborative effort between MLSE’s in-house design team and Nike. The new threads are comprised of recycled PET bottles, a combination of Alpha Yarns and recycled polyester. Each uniform represents approximately 20 recycled bottles.

“As we began to think about the decade ahead, we aimed to create uniforms that not only reflected our franchise’s historic accomplishment in 2019 but also inspired the pursuit of our next championship,” MLSE Chief Marketing Officer Shannon Hosford said. “Our goal was to continue to evolve our ‘We The North’ Raptors brand identity highlighting our key chevron design, which is synonymous with the North and our championship, while also providing our fans with some added swagger while they show their support.”

The NBA and Nike eliminated traditional “home” and “road” uniform designations prior to the 2017-18 season and created four core uniforms for each team classified as “editions” – Association, Icon, Statement and City. Home teams pick which of their uniforms will be worn at all home games and visiting teams choose a contrasting uniform within their own assortment.

Prior to the 2018-19 campaign, the NBA and Nike added the Earned Edition uniform as a fifth option for all 16 teams that made the playoffs from the previous season. The uniforms are colour variations of each team’s Statement or City Edition jerseys.

Will Suns target Fred VanVleet, Jerami Grant in free agency?

The Suns failed to make the playoffs this season, but won all eight of their games in the Disney NBA bubble, have a talented young core, and have every reason to be excited for next year’s prospects. Here’s the Arizona Republic mentioning two players they might want to consider targeting in free agency this offseason:

Around $20 million a year.

That’s what the Toronto Raptors could pay point guard Fred VanVleet to stay in O Canada and still have a “maximum salary slot for 2021,” the Toronto Star wrote last month.

Up to $16 million a year.

That’s how much Denver Nuggets power forward Jerami Grant could command as he can opt out of his contract, The Denver Post reported last week.

Phoenix is reportedly interested in both, but probably couldn’t land the two even if they made major moves starting with trading Kelly Oubre Jr.

And some more on VanVleet:

Talent should translate, but you’re asking someone who can be a starting point guard for several teams, including the one he’s on, to play behind veteran Ricky Rubio.

Could see VanVleet finishing games, though. He’d allow Booker to play off the ball and make teams pay for doubling Booker.

Wonder if Rubio would be willing to come off the bench?

Suns free agents this offseason include Aron Baynes and Dario Saric. When healthy, Baynes definitely helped. He’ll turn 34 years old this December, so if he does return it would likely be on a short-term contract.

The rest of the core roster — Booker, Rubio, Kelly Oubre, Deandre Ayton and friends — will be back.

The team is on the rise.

Expect Raptors president Masai Ujiri to eventually receive contract extension

The Raptors won the NBA championship last season, were one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Finals this season, and clearly have a well put-together squad. Here’s the Toronto Star on what comes next:

There is a plan, and a time and a place for everything, and Larry Tanenbaum and Raptors president Masai Ujiri are working at their own pace on all of it.

The long-term future of Ujiri, whose contract runs out at the end of next season, is a growing concern among the team’s fans but Tanenbaum knows there is no need to rush. There are other priorities, as Ujiri spelled out last week.

“Our fans, they love Masai for all that he’s contributed to the Raptors franchise and to our community and to our country — and our appreciation for him, that can’t be measured,” Tanenbaum, the chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, said in an interview Tuesday. “But it was his and my game plan to secure his management team extension before his own.”

That plan is halfway complete with coach Nick Nurse getting a contract extension earlier this month and plans are being finalized on a new deal for general manager Bobby Webster.

Raptors face big free agency decisions this offseason

Although they fell short of reaching the Eastern Conference Finals, the Raptors are clearly one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Whether that will remain true next season largely depends on what happens in free agency this offseason. Here’s the Toronto Star on the squad and what team president Masai Ujiri has to say:

There are three key free agents — Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka — and dealing with them will be the first task. A long-term contract for VanVleet and one-year deals with either of the other two should preserve salary-cap room for 2021 and address critical present needs, but the only hint Ujiri would give is that he considers everyone a priority.

“It’s all communication and how we relate to our players,” Ujiri said. “We are very confident with our culture and, yes, Fred is a priority, our bigs are a priority — Serge had an incredible run, Marc Gasol brings so much to our organization — and we have our young players coming up with Chris Boucher. Rondae (Hollis-Jefferson), too, is a free agent and he found a niche with our organization.

“That’s what our jobs are. We have to face them square on, and we will deal with them as we come, as we have in the past.

“We have to really attack this head on, and we know where their game is. We know how much they can improve. We try to project that as much as we can. We know where they have come from too, because we have gone through all these struggles with all these guys and we mutually appreciate that.” …

The NBA has set up a virtual scouting combine that includes some in-person workouts with trainers through October, but how much value that would have in debatable. And whether the Raptors would even keep their pick — No. 29 — is also uncertain. Using it in a trade package might make sense but, again, the unknown financial situation makes that difficult.

Forward Pascal Siakam isn’t going anywhere, and neither is guard Kyle Lowry. But Lowry, while still in possession of serious game, is 34 years old, so by 2021, VanVleet, should he stick around, will possibly have even more responsibility than before. Making this offseason all the more critical.

Some key Raptors players are free agents this summer, including Fred VanVleet

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet was considered a respectable backup guard last regular season. And then emerged in the playoffs, rose his profile, and never looked back. He’s a very key member of the team, and with the future in mind is even more important considering that fellow starting guard Kyle Lowry, as good as he still plays, will turn 35 years old in March of 2021 and may start to slow down.

But VanVleet is a free agent this offseason. Here’s the Toronto Star examining how the Raps can potentially navigate the situation:

Keeping the 26-year-old guard, an integral part of a championship team and seemingly a foundational piece of the roster right now, has to be job No. 1 for Raptors president Masai Ujiri and general manager Bobby Webster when it comes to retooling a roster that had a wonderful regular season and then fell in a seven-game, second-round Bubble Series against the Boston Celtics.

No one is running from or hiding the fact that the team will have no centres under contract when the off-season hits, because that is an issue, but the first domino needs to be VanVleet.

It’ll be costly, but it can be done. The Raptors could work some financial magic and pay VanVleet somewhere around $20 million (U.S.) a year — he made about $9.3 million this season — and still retain a maximum salary slot for 2021, when the free-agent market will be rife with high-profile stars.

The Raptors had an excellent shot at the Eastern Conference Finals this season, falling just one win short in the second round against the Celtics.

And they also soon might have a hole at the center spot, with both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka hitting free agency.

It would be smart to keep Ibaka. But the most important player for the Raps in the group is VanVleet.

Raptors and team president Masai Ujiri not talking contract extension yet

The Raptors won the championship last season, had an excellent regular season despite widespread predictions of a drop-off, and fell one win short of a trip to the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals. Here’s the Canadian Press via the Toronto Star on the front office:

Raptors president Masai Ujiri said he hasn’t had any contract discussions with team owner Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment since the club’s season ended last week.

Ujiri’s contract has one year left.

The team recently announced an extension for head coach Nick Nurse. A similar announcement for Ujiri is certainly expected as well. The only question is when.

Raptors sign coach Nick Nurse to contract extension

The Toronto Raptors have signed head coach Nick Nurse to a multi-year contract extension.

This past season, Nurse guided the Raptors to a 53-19 record during the regular season (second best in the NBA) and set a franchise-record with a .736 winning percentage. Toronto also reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the fifth straight year.

“Our confidence in Nick just continues to grow, and part of that comes from what we’ve experienced together. The past two seasons have been unlike any other in our team’s history – first, winning our championship, and then navigating a global pandemic and committing long-term to the fight against racism and for social justice,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said. “Nick has proved that he can coach on the court and lead in life, and we’re looking forward to accomplishing great things in the future.”

In his two seasons at the helm of the Raptors, Nurse has posted a 111-43 record (.721) during the regular season. In the playoffs, he has compiled a 23-12 mark (.657), while leading Toronto to its first NBA Championship in 2019. Nurse has earned Eastern Conference Coach of the Month honours three times (Jan. 2020, Oct./Nov. 2019, Nov. 2018) and coached Team Giannis at the 2020 NBA All-Star Game in Chicago.

“My family and I will always be appreciative of Larry Tanenbaum and MLSE ownership for this opportunity. I’m grateful to Masai, Bobby, and the players for their trust and their hard work,” Nurse said. “Toronto has been my home for the past seven years, and I look forward to it being home for many more. I’ve watched this franchise grow and reach the pinnacle, and I look forward to the challenge of helping us win another championship.”

Nurse was named the 2019-20 NBA Coach of the Year, becoming the first coach to be selected as Coach of the Year in both the NBA and the NBA G League. Highlighting Toronto’s season last year was a franchise-record 15 straight victories (Jan. 15 – Feb. 10). The winning streak was the longest in Canadian sports history (NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS and CFL).

In 2018-19, the Raptors won 58 regular season games and set franchise records for points per game (114.4), assists per game (25.4), rebounds per game (45.2), and three-point field goals made (1,105). The team went 16-8 in the postseason, defeating Orlando, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Golden State en route to the Raptors’ first NBA title.

A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Nurse was named the ninth head coach in Raptors history on June 14, 2018, taking the job after five years as an assistant coach with the team.

Nurse came to the NBA after several successful years in the NBA G League – where he was the only coach to lead two different teams to the league championship – Rio Grande Valley in 2013 and Iowa in 2011. For his accomplishments with the Energy, Nurse was named the 2010-11 recipient of the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse says team needs more energy

The Raptors weren’t competitive yesterday in their Game 5 loss to the Celtics. Here’s the Toronto Star reporting what head coach Nick Nurse had to say:

“I think a lot of this game, in general, has to do with … energy and rhythm,” coach Nick Nurse said Tuesday. “It’s kind of hard to explain how we don’t have a little bit more energy (in Monday’s 111-89 loss), and it’s even probably harder to explain how we don’t have it in Game 1 of the series.

“The energy has got to be there. I think when we do bring the energy, we’re right there, we’re supercompetitive for sure, and look great.”

Strategically, it’s easy to pinpoint what the Raptors need. They could use more offence from Marc Gasol — “It’s not like we need 25 from him, but we need him to chip in with some, just because there’s opportunities there for him,” said Nurse — and a huge offensive game from Pascal Siakam would be a blessing.

The Raptors got off to a shockingly miserable start yesterday, falling behind 25-11 after one quarter and then getting outscored by seven points in the second quarter. Their play in the second half was solid, but no big comeback was launched, and then lost by a final score of 111-89.

The big winner in the game was Boston’s defense. Toronto shot horribly, both in two-point and three-point range.

We’ll see if the team can come out of the gates hot at the start of Game 6 tomorrow.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens praises great pass made by Raptors guard Kyle Lowry

Yesterday’s Raptors vs. Celtics game came down to the final seconds as Kemba Walker made a perfect pass, and then even more final seconds as Kyle Lowry did the same, leading to an OG Anunoby game-winning jumpshot at the buzzer. Here’s the Boston Herald reporting:

Jaylen Brown, always earnest and rational, was angered enough to drop an F-bomb or three in his post-game presser. Marcus Smart spent a few extra moments on the bench after OG Anunoby’s walk-off corner 3-pointer, running it all back, contemplating the team-wide breakdown that led to an open shot off an inbounds play with half a second on the clock.

By Friday, with the Celtics’ second round lead over Toronto cut to 2-1, those emotions had returned to a calmer boil. Brad Stevens certainly doesn’t want his players re-living a play he admits was equal parts defensive miscommunication and terrific execution by the Raptors.

For starters, Kyle Lowry had to loop his cross-court inbounds pass over an extended Tacko Fall to find Anunoby, who, yes, had gone invisible in the Celtics’ zone coverage scheme, leaving Brown too far down the baseline to contest the shot.

“We could’ve guarded it better, but that should be on the whole team and where the whole team has something happen, then that’s on me. So, I’ve moved on from it,” the Celtics coach said after Friday’s practice. “We talked about it this morning. We also have to realize that Lowry made a perfect pass over a 7-foot-6 guy all the way across the court, and a guy caught it in .4 seconds and shot it in.

Raptors news: guard Kyle Lowry diagnosed with ankle sprain

As the Toronto Raptors prepare to meet their second-round playoff opponent, the Boston Celtics, their star point guard will be on the mend.

Raptors guard Kyle Lowry has been diagnosed with a left ankle sprain, the team announced today.

Lowry underwent an MRI on the NBA Campus in Orlando after the injury, which occurred in the first quarter of Sunday evening’s game. His condition will be updated as appropriate.

Lowry averaged 19.4 points, a team-high 7.5 assists, 5.0 rebounds and 36.2 minutes in 58 games with the Raptors this season. In six games during the NBA restart at Disney, he averaged 16.7 points, 5.7 assists, 6.8 rebounds and 32.9 minutes.

In the first round of the NBA Playoffs vs. Brooklyn, Lowry posted averages of 12.5 points, 4.8 assists and 7.0 rebounds in 29.9 minutes. He scored in double figures three times, including 21 points in Game 2, and had one double-double against the Nets. The Raptors swept the series, winning 4-0.