Archive for the ‘ Toronto Raptors Blog ’ Category

Toronto Raptors want to toughen up

If there is one word Dwane Casey will not have associated with his team this season, it’s the word ‘soft.’

Or any variation of that word.

In Casey’s world, a soft team is a team that is not playing well defensively, and Casey already saw that team last season. He is determined never to see that again.

“We’re adding more players to do that now,” Casey said. “We’re adding Tyler (Hansbrough). We’re going in with a defensive mentality that we did in Year 1 ( two years ago) .

“We have to have people thinking: ‘Ah, man, I don’t want to go play Toronto tonight’ and do it legally without having a lot of fouls, but do it physically in a legal way. I thought we accomplished that in Year 1 and I thought last year we took a step back. Now we have to get back to our core.”

But Psycho-T alone isn’t going to get the job done and Casey is well aware of that.

“Tyler does it, Quincy (Acy) does it, Amir (Johnson) does it, JV (Jonas Valanciunas) is going to be a year better at it,” Casey said of playing tough defence that makes an opponent know you’re there in the most direct terms. “That’s going to be our focus from Day 1, back to a defensive identity. And it’s going to be laid out. If you don’t play defence you are not going to play. You can’t. We can’t win without a defensive mentality.”

Reported by Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun

The Toronto Raptors continue to add to their coaching staff. Bill Bayno, who has worked under Rick Adelman in Minnesota since 2011, is joining Dwane Casey’s staff. Bayno, 51, has also been an assistant with Portland, and has an extensive history in college as both an assistant and head coach, including a brief stint at UNLV.

Bayno will have significant input on the team’s defence, although that remains the strength of Casey as a coach. Nonetheless, the Raptors’ defence slipped to 22nd in the league last year, so some adjustments will surely take place. Bayno joins Nick Nurse on the staff. Nurse, formerly of Rio Grande of the D-League, is thought to be a top up-and-coming offensive coach. Former Houston assistant Jesse Mermuys is also expected to join the Raptors’ staff. The Raptors have not confirmed the additions of Bayno or Mermuys.

Reported by Eric Koreen of the National Post

Raptors trade Andrea Bargnani to Knicks

Raptors trade Andrea Bargnani to Knicks

New York Knicks Executive Vice President and General Manager Glen Grunwald announced today that the team has acquired forward/center Andrea Bargnani from Toronto in exchange for center Marcus Camby, forward Steve Novak, guard/forward Quentin Richardson (via sign-and-trade), a first-round draft selection in the 2016 NBA Draft and second-round selections in 2014 and 2017.

“Seven-foot versatile players with a good mid-range offensive game and an ability to stretch the other team’s defense are hard to come by in this league,” Grunwald said. “Andrea has proven to be a quality scorer who adds another dimension to our team. We are excited to add him to our frontline.”

Bargnani, 7-0, 256-pounds, was selected No. 1 overall by Toronto in the 2006 NBA Draft, and after seven seasons with the Raptors, ranks third on the franchise’s all-time scoring list with 6,581 points, second in three-point field goals (579) and fourth in games played (418). He holds career averages of 15.2 points, on 43.7-percent shooting from the field, and 4.8 rebounds over 30.3 minutes in 433 games (316 starts). Bargnani posted a career-best 41 points, and added seven rebounds and six assists, versus the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 8, 2010.

“Andrea has great size and can create huge match-up problems for our opponents,” Head Coach Mike Woodson said. “He can score both inside and out. He will be a great complement to Carmelo, Tyson and Amar’e.”

The native of Rome, Italy, averaged 12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 28.7 minutes in 35 games during the 2012-13 season. Although Bargnani missed 46 games due to injury/illness, he scored in double-digits 11 times, reached the 20-point plateau eight times and scored a season-high 34 points on Nov. 23, 2012 at Detroit.

Camby, 6-11, 245-pounds, appeared in 24 games (four starts) for New York during the 2012-13 season – his second tenure with the Knicks. He averaged 1.8 points and 3.3 rebounds and being acquired from Portland, via sign-and-trade, on Jul. 11, 2012.

Novak, 6-10, 225-pounds, averaged 6.6 points, on 41.4-percent shooting from the field and 42.5-percent from three-point range, over 81 games (one start) during the 2012-13 season – his second season with the Knicks. He was claimed off waivers from San Antonio on Dec. 21, 2012.

Richardson, 6-6, 220-pounds, appeared in one game for the Knicks during the 2012-13 season – his second tenure with New York. He signed as a free agent on Apr. 16, 2013.

Tyler Hansbrough to join Toronto Raptors

Tyler Hansbrough to join Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors will sign unrestricted free-agent center Tyler Hansbrough to a two-year contract, the Toronto Star reported Tuesday.

The Indiana Pacers had extended a $4,135,391 qualifying offer to Hansbrough in June but rescinded it last week.

The 27-year-old Hansbrough averaged 7.0 points and 4.6 rebounds in 81 regular-season games for the Pacers last season.

Reported by the Sports Xchange

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday they have added Nick Nurse to Dwane Casey’s coaching staff. Nurse joins the Raptors from the NBA D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Nurse, 45, coached the Valley Vipers to a 59-41 mark the past two seasons and the 2012-13 NBA D-League championship. Prior to taking the reins in Rio Grande, Nurse coached the Iowa Energy to an overall regular season mark of 124-76 (.620) and the 2010-11 NBA Development League championship. For his accomplishments, Nurse was named the 2010-11 recipient of the Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year award.

A three-time NBA Development League All-Star head coach, Nurse led the Energy to back-to-back 37-13 finishes in 2009-10 and 2010-11, setting and then tying the league record for wins in a single season. Nurse led the Energy to two Eastern Conference championships and one Central Division championship.

A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Nurse began his coaching career at the age of 23 when he became the head coach of Grand View College, making him the youngest college basketball coach in the United States. He moved on to an assistant coach position at the University of South Dakota where his teams recorded a 46-14 mark.

Nurse coached in Europe for 11 years starting in 1996, winning nine championships and two Coach of the Year awards while earning six All-Star head coach selections in the British Basketball League. During that time, he also gained coaching experience in Italy, Belgium and the USBL. Additionally, Nurse served as an assistant coach in the 2012 Olympics for the host British National Team.

Nurse holds a career professional coaching record of 459-220 (.676) during the regular season and 76-54 (.585) in the postseason.

Toronto Raptors President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri announced Wednesday that Head Coach Dwane Casey will return for the 2013-14 season.

“I’m excited about moving forward and growing this team with Coach Casey,” said Ujiri.

Casey is in the final year of a contract extension signed following the 2011-12 campaign.

An announcement will be made in the future regarding the club’s assistant coaching staff.

Masai Ujiri is returning to the Raptors as general manager and bringing with him a “passion to win.” He has a lot of work ahead, joining a team that has missed the playoffs for five straight seasons.

Ujiri was introduced Tuesday at Air Canada Centre after his hiring last week. He was an assistant GM with the Raptors for three seasons before leaving for the Denver Nuggets in 2010.

“I love this place,” said Ujiri, the first African-born GM in North America’s four major sports. “I’m pumped. I’m excited. This is a stage that I’ve always wanted in my life.”

Ujiri, who was born in Nigeria, was the NBA executive of the year with the Nuggets. He succeeds Bryan Colangelo, who remains the Raptors’ president in a nonbasketball role.

“It’s going to take patience,” Ujiri said. “It’s going to take will. We’re going to instill passion - a passion to win.”

Reported by the Associated Press

toronto raptors

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday that the club has signed Masai Ujiri as its General Manager. Ujiri, 42, was recently named the NBA’s Executive of the Year in his capacity as Executive Vice-President of Basketball Operations for the Denver Nuggets. He replaces Bryan Colangelo, who is now the Raptors’ President.

In his three seasons in Denver, Ujiri built the Nuggets into a team that won a franchise-record 57 games and delivered an NBA-best 38-3 record at home this past season.

A native of Nigeria, and the first African-born GM in the NBA, Ujiri will report to Tim Leiweke, MLSE’s President and CEO. “We feel very lucky to have Masai in our organization. He is a proven judge of talent and we look for him to be a big part of creating a winning atmosphere, leading us to the playoffs and, ultimately, delivering NBA championships for Toronto,” said Leiweke. “I would also like to publicly thank the Kroenke’s in Denver for being such a class organization that they would allow Masai to pursue his dream. They put him first in all of our discussions.”

Ujiri spent three years with the Raptors after joining the team as director of global scouting in 2007. He was elevated to assistant general manager in 2008. Ujiri is thrilled to return to the franchise that first gave him a front office position. “To come back to the Raptors, to live in such a great city, and work in an organization that has committed all the resources necessary to win championships was a huge factor in the decision,” said Ujiri. “I have already developed a great relationship with Tim Leiweke and I can’t wait to get back to Canada to build a team that is poised to take the next step in the NBA.”

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment President and CEO Tim Leiweke announced Tuesday that he has revamped the senior leadership of the Toronto Raptors in preparation for next season. Bryan Colangelo has had his contract extended as the team’s President and will report directly to Mr. Leiweke. The club has also created a new position of General Manager that will have final authority on all basketball-related decisions. At this time, with input from Colangelo, Leiweke is conducting a search to identify candidates and expects to name the new GM in the next 30 days.

“After thorough evaluation and considering all the options, we have concluded that these changes will be in the best interest of the organization,” said Leiweke. “By splitting the roles and having both men report directly to me, we are adding depth to the basketball operations group and giving the Toronto Raptors the best chance of competing for championships in the future. The new GM will inherit a great situation in Toronto, as all of my due diligence around the League indicates that we have a fine, young core and a few key moves will make us a playoff contender next season.”

While the General Manager will have autonomy over basketball decisions, Colangelo will continue to advise Leiweke on basketball-related matters while also broadening his involvement with the business side of the franchise. “The future of this team and this organization excites me more than ever, and I am looking forward to being part of our future success,” said Colangelo. “I will add whatever is necessary to help improve our basketball team while also expanding my efforts to increase brand awareness and influence growth of the game across this great country.”

“Bryan is skilled, knowledgeable and respected across the NBA and will be a resource that we count on to help build the Raptors into Canada’s team,” said Leiweke.

MLSE also announced that Leiweke would move up his official start date from July 1 to June 3 at the suggestion of the Board.

The Toronto Raptors are moving executive Bryan Colangelo out of basketball operations and into a corporate position with the team.

Yahoo! Sports reported Monday that the Raptors are making the move because they are interested in hiring Denver Nuggets general manager Masai Ujiri to take over their front office.

Colangelo has run the team’s basketball operations for seven years but the team has only made the playoffs twice during that span and is coming off a 34-48 season.

– Reported by the Sports Xchange

Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors, emboldened by the news that the Sacramento Kings apparently won’t be moving to Seattle, have ramped up their pursuit of Phil Jackson to be their new team president, according to sources close to the situation.

Sources told ESPN.com that the Raptors — now being run by former Los Angeles-based sports mogul Tim Leiweke — regarded the Seattle group that was trying to buy the Kings as the biggest threat to preventing Jackson from seriously considering their pitch.

But now that the Kings appear poised to stay in Sacramento instead of being sold to the consortium led by Jackson fan Chris Hansen, sources say that the Raptors will be pursuing Jackson aggressively this week, believing that they rank as Jackson’s most attractive current option for a new career in management now that he can reunite with Leiweke.

One source close to the situation told ESPN.com that Hansen and Jackson have “hit it off,” sparking league-wide speculation that Jackson would be offered the chance to run the new Sonics in Seattle in the Pat Riley-style role he craves. But with a 12-owner committee recommending Monday that the Kings’ move to Seattle be blocked, Toronto’s seemingly long-shot odds of winning the Jackson sweepstakes would figure to have received a boost.

– Reported by Marc Stein and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com

demar derozan

Deron Williams crumpled up his stat sheet and threw it away in disgust. A loss to the lottery-bound Toronto Raptors meant his Brooklyn Nets had lost their chance at earning the third seed in the Eastern Conference.

DeMar DeRozan scored 36 points, Rudy Gay had 26 points and 10 rebounds and the Raptors won their third straight game, never trailing in a 93-87 victory over the Nets on Sunday.

Brooklyn is still going to the playoffs, but could have closed to within one game of Indiana after the Pacers lost 90-80 to the New York Knicks…

Brooklyn can still tie Indiana, but the Pacers would win the tiebreaker because they’re guaranteed to win the Central Division. Brooklyn is assured of second place in the Atlantic…

Amir Johnson had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Raptors, who hadn’t won three straight since a five-game winning streak from Feb. 8 to 19…

Williams scored 30 points, Brook Lopez had 16 and Andray Blatche 15 for the Nets, whose four-game winning streak was snapped…

Former Raptor Reggie Evans had 16 rebounds for the Nets but didn’t take a single shot. … Keith Bogans started for Brooklyn in place of F Gerald Wallace, who missed his second straight game with a sore left heel.

– Reported by Ian Harrison of the Associated Press

monta ellis

Monta Ellis had 22 points and nine assists, and the Milwaukee Bucks secured their first playoff berth in three seasons with a 100-83 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night.

Brandon Jennings had 16 points and seven assists, while Larry Sanders added 12 points, nine rebounds and six blocks for Milwaukee, which needed a win and a Miami victory over Philadelphia on Saturday to clinch at least the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Heat beat the 76ers, 106-87.

The win was Milwaukee’s 10th straight over Toronto, its longest active winning streak over any opponent. And it pulled the Bucks within two games of the idle Boston Celtics for the No. 7 seed.

Alan Anderson led Toronto with 14 points off the bench, and Quincy Acy had 13. Rudy Gay, Toronto’s leading scorer with 18.2 points per game, made 1-of-10 shots and matched his season low with four points.

Toronto shot just 36 percent (30 of 83) and had 18 turnovers.

The game wasn’t close after the first quarter, as the Bucks used a 15-4 run late in the period to go up 24. They led 61-42 at halftime behind 14 points and seven assists from Ellis.

– Reported by Erik Brooks of the Associated Press

Greg Monroe

Greg Monroe scored 24 points, Jose Calderon had 19 points and nine assists against his former team, and the Detroit Pistons snapped a three-game losing streak by beating the Toronto Raptors 108-98 on Monday night.

Rodney Stuckey scored 18 points, Jonas Jerebko had 10 of his 15 in the fourth quarter and rookie Khris Middleton added 11 as the Pistons won for just the third time in 19 games.

Rudy Gay scored 34 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 17 and DeMar DeRozan 15 as the Raptors lost for the seventh time in eight games. Toronto was outscored 33-19 in the final quarter…

Before the game, the Pistons announced that forward Jason Maxiell will miss the remainder of the season after surgery to repair a detached retina. Maxiell began complaining of blurry vision last week and didn’t travel with the team for Sunday’s loss at Chicago. He stayed in Detroit to visit a specialist, who diagnosed the injury.

Detroit was also without guard Will Bynum, who sat out with a strained right hand.

Raptors swingman Landry Fields was unavailable because of pain in his right elbow. Fields had surgery on the elbow last November, forcing him to miss 22 games. He skipped Monday’s game to travel to Los Angeles for follow-up testing.

– Reported by Ian Harrison of the Associated Press

Bradley Beal returns, scores 24 in Wizards win over Raptors

Bradley Beal scored 24 points in his return to the lineup, leading the Washington Wizards to a 109-92 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night.

Emeka Okafor had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and John Wall added 18 points and 10 assists for Washington. The Wizards, who came in having lost two in a row on the road, won their seventh straight at home and moved into a tie with Toronto for 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Raptors, losers of six of their last seven. Toronto leading scorer Rudy Gay scored 11 points - about seven below his average - while being limited to 26 minutes due to foul trouble.

Toronto, which has lost six of seven, cut a 20-point third-quarter deficit to six twice in the fourth quarter before Washington pulled away.

After missing five straight games, and 11 of 13, with a sprained left ankle, Beal shot 8 for 14 from the field, including a career-high six 3-pointers - on nine attempts - in 30 minutes…

Gay was held to five points in the half and DeMar DeRozan to four, while Valanciunas scored 16 for Toronto.

– Reported by Harvey Valentine of the Associated Press

Rudy Gay and the Toronto Raptors are out of the playoff picture and have just 10 games left before their season ends. That doesn’t mean they’re going to go quietly.

Gay scored 19 of his 21 points during a dominant third quarter and the Raptors ended a five-game skid with a 99-82 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

Toronto led 46-45 at the break and took control by outscoring the Pistons 23-5 in the first eight minutes of the third period.

DeMar DeRozan also had 21 to help Toronto win a second straight meeting with the Pistons.

”Whatever he drank at halftime, he needs to keep drinking it,” coach Dwane Casey said of Gay, who was 7 for 11 from the floor in the third.

”Something clicked at halftime to get him going.” …

Amir Johnson added 20 points, including 10 during the second period that helped the Raptors take the lead for good.

Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Kyle Lowry added 11 assists…

Jonas Jerebko scored 20 points to lead the Pistons, who also got 17 from rookie Andre Drummond in their eighth straight home loss. Detroit made just six field goals in the third and often couldn’t seem to stop Gay once he got hot.

– Reported by the Associated Press

Byron Mullens

Gerald Henderson is enjoying the best streak of his four-year NBA career, and the Charlotte Bobcats are playing better, too.

Henderson turned in another solid all-around game, Byron Mullens scored 25 points and the Bobcats beat the Toronto Raptors 107-101 on Wednesday night to win consecutive games for the first time since mid-November.

Henderson scored 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting and added seven rebounds and five assists. The soon-to-be restricted free agent is averaging 22.7 points on 50 percent shooting in his last seven games, including a 35-point performance in a win over Boston on March 12.

But he’s more willing to talk about the team’s recent improvement than his own personal accomplishments.

”I think it’s just us maturing,” Henderson said. ”I think that’s a big deal. We’ve been in a lot of situations where we haven’t gotten it done in the fourth quarter but we have recently, so that’s good.”

With the Raptors keying on him in the final period, Henderson played the role of distributor and the Bobcats leaned heavily on Mullens and Ben Gordon down the stretch.

– Reported by Steve Reed of the Associated Press

lebron james

The Miami Heat equaled the second-longest winning streak in NBA history, pulling away in the fourth quarter Sunday to beat the Toronto Raptors 108-91 for their 22nd consecutive victory.

LeBron James had 22 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, Dwyane Wade added 24 points and nine assists, and Ray Allen scored 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter for the defending NBA champions.

Chris Bosh finished with 18 points as the Heat tied the 2007-08 Houston Rockets for the second-longest winning streak in NBA history. The longest is 33 games, set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.

Miami will try to move into sole possession of second on Monday when it visits the Boston Celtics - who ended the Rockets’ run five years ago…

Rudy Gay scored 27 and Amir Johnson had 18 points and 18 rebounds as the Raptors lost their 11th straight against Miami, extending their longest active losing streak against a single opponent.

Jonas Valanciunas scored 18 points, and Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan each had 12 for the Raptors, whose last victory over the Heat was a 111-103 home win on Jan. 27, 2010 - when Bosh still played for Toronto and James was in Cleveland.

– Reported by Ian Harrison of the Associated Press

Amir Johnson 21 rebounds

Even though playoff contention may be slipping out of reach for the Toronto Raptors, Amir Johnson isn’t about to slow down.

Johnson had 12 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, and Rudy Gay scored 28 points as the Raptors beat the Charlotte Bobcats 92-78 on Friday night.

”That was a heck of an effort by Amir Johnson,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. ”I can’t sing his praises enough.”

Toronto drew to within 7 1/2 games of Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the East after the Bucks lost at home to Miami, the Heat’s 21st straight win. The Raptors host Miami on Sunday.

Joey Dorsey was the last Toronto player to record 20 rebounds, doing it April 11, 2011, at Milwaukee…

Gerald Henderson, coming off a career-best 35-point performance in the Bobcats’ 100-74 victory over Boston on Tuesday, scored 22 points. Kemba Walker added 20, and Ben Gordon and McRoberts each had 10 for Charlotte, which has won just one of 11 and four of its past 26.

The Bobcats made just one of 13 field goal attempts in the fourth, and were outscored 23-10.

– Reported by Ian Harrison of the Associated Press

Sam Mitchell once banned Andrea Bargnani from shooting 3-pointers

Mitchell, who coached Toronto from 2004 through 2008, said he set aside one 10-game stretch where he forbade Bargnani from taking a three-point shot. He said he went so far as to tell the young Italian he would remove him from the game if he stopped to shoot from beyond the arc.

“My thing was, I wanted him to understand he used the three-pointer as a crutch,” he said. “He relied on it too much. I wanted him to use the three-pointer as a weapon. I wanted him to realize that, from 17 feet in, in one dribble, Andrea could get anywhere on the basketball court.”

Mitchell, who has spoken of management’s interference before, would not go into the specifics of what upper management told him. He would not offer names.

“Maybe, looking back, if I ever coach again and I want to do something like that, I’ll sit down with the general manager first and say, ‘this is what I want to do, this is why I’m going to do it, and after these 10 games, I’m going to turn him loose,’” he said.

– Reported by Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post

Basketball blog