Raptors sign center Khem Birch

The Toronto Raptors have signed center Khem Birch.

Birch, 6-foot-9, 230 pounds, averaged career highs of 5.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 19.8 minutes in 48 games (five starts) with the Orlando Magic this season. He shot .450 (94-209) from the floor and scored in double figures five times, which included three double-doubles.

A native of Montreal, Quebec, Birch is averaging 4.7 points, 4.4 rebounds and 16.5 minutes in 188 career games (30 starts) during four seasons in Orlando (2017-21). After going undrafted in 2014, Birch played with Sioux Falls of the NBA G League (2014-15) and overseas in Turkey (2015-16) and Greece (2016-17) prior to signing with the Magic as a free agent in the summer of 2017.

Birch played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh (2011-12) and UNLV (2012-14) where he was named Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year back-to-back seasons. On the international stage, Birch represented Canada at the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. He was also a member of Canada’s U-18 National Team that captured a bronze medal at the 2010 FIBA Americas Under-18 Championship.

Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore reportedly finalizing deal to buy Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly being sold.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski via Twitter, “former Major Leaguer Alex Rodriguez and billionaire Marc Lore are finalizing a deal to purchase the Minnesota Timberwolves from majority owner Glen Taylor, sources tell ESPN. Taylor will continue full control of team for two years before Rodriguez and Lore take over in 2023.”

Magic reportedly plan to add forward Robert Franks

The Magic will make a roster move soon. Via the Orlando Sentinel:

The Orlando Magic plan to sign free-agent forward Robert Franks to a 10-day contract, NBA sources confirmed Saturday to the Orlando Sentinel.

The Magic have one open roster spot after waiving center Khem Birch last week, but the team also is set to sign forward/center Donta Hall to a 10-day contract. NBA teams get 15 roster spots for players on regular NBA contracts, while players on two-way deals do not count toward that number. So to make room for both Franks and Hall, the Magic will have to release a player on a regular contract.

The Magic are 17-35 this season, which is the second worst record in the Eastern conference. They recently traded their most high-profile players, and are clearly now rebuilding.

Hawks guard Tony Snell out with ankle injury

Atlanta Hawks guard Tony Snell left during the third quarter of last night’s game against Chicago with a right ankle injury and did not return. An MRI taken this morning at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex confirmed a right ankle sprain and bone bruise. He will stay in Atlanta for rehabilitation, missing the Hawks’ two-game road trip to Charlotte and Tampa, and will be re-evaluated upon the team’s return.

Chris Boucher puts up a 38-point, 19-rebound game

Raptors forward/center Chris Boucher continues to show signs of huge talent, while mostly coming off the bench this season. On Thursday, he started, and put up a monster game. Via the Toronto Star:

Chris Boucher played a game that was better statistically than any ever before by a Raptors big man.

Better by numbers than anything Chris Bosh ever did, or Pascal Siakam, or Antonio Davis, or Jonas Valanciunas, or any of the many other frontcourt players — good and bad — in the first 2,044 games of the franchise’s existence.

It was a wonderful night: 38 points and 19 rebounds in a loss to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday, one rebound shy of the first 30-20 game ever by a Raptor and the first time anyone has reached those numbers in the same game.

There have been better scoring nights — the list of 40-plus games runs the gamut from Acie Earl to Andrea Bargnani to Bosh, who did it nine times.

And there have been better rebounding nights up front — Bismack Biyombo once had 25; Bosh went over 20 twice, as did Valanciunas; Donyell Marshall had 24; Joey Dorsey once grabbed 20.

But never before had anyone put up 38 and 19, and for that Boucher should praised and held in high regard.

The Raptors are just 20-32 this season, which is the 11th best record in the Eastern conference.

Boucher is averaging 13.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in 23.6 minutes per game.

Wizards team notes on 110-107 win over Warriors

The Wizards defeated the Warriors 110-107 for their second-straight win.

Washington won at Golden State for the second-straight season, the first time doing so since the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.

The Wizards improved to 4-1 in their “West Coast” games this season, winning all four games by seven-or-fewer points and three by three-or-less.

Washington won its eighth game of the season by three-or-fewer points, improving to 8-4 in those games. Only Portland (9), Sacramento (9) and Charlotte (8) have as many wins by three-or-less this season.

Washington dished 30 assists in the game, its eighth game this season with at least 30 assists.

The Wizards have also tallied consecutive 30+ assist games for the first time since recording four straight from 11/15/19-11/22/19.

Russell Westbrook tallied his league-leading 21st triple-double of the season with 19 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists.

Westbrook has now tallied a triple-double in three-straight games for the fifth time this season, while the rest of the league has three total three-game streaks (Butler, Harden, Antetokounmpo).

Westbrook has also now recorded a triple-double in 10 of his last 13 games.

Bradley Beal scored 20 points, six of which came in the final six seconds – including a completed four-point play to give the Wizards a one-point lead with 6.1 seconds remaining.

Per Elias, Beal became the first player since Paul George on 1/19/19 to give his team the lead with a four-point play in the final six seconds of the game, and the first Wizard to do so in at least the last 20 seasons.

Beal scored 10 of his 20 points, and 10 of Washington’s last 14 points, in the final 3:45 of the game.

This was Beal’s 39th game this season with at least 20 points.

Rui Hachimura finished with a team-high 22 points on 9-16 (.563) shooting from the field, as well as a game-high +13 rating.

This was Hachimura’s seventh 20+ point game in his last 13 games after having two in his previous 29 to start the season.

Hachimura is averaging 18.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, while shooting .515 from the field in those 13 games since 3/13.

Robin Lopez went 9-14 from the field for a season-high 20 points to go along with eight rebounds.

Lopez has now tied or set his season high in points scored in each of his last five games played (not counting 4/5, where he played nine minutes before leaving due to injury). He is shooting .745 from the field in those five games, averaging 17.8 points per game.

Cavaliers sign Mfiondu Kabengele to 10-day contract

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forward/center Mfiondu Kabengele to a 10-day contract, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts.

Kabengele (6-9, 250) appeared in 23 games for the Los Angeles Clippers this season before being traded to the Sacramento Kings on March 22. Kabengele, who was waived by the Kings on March 25, owns career averages of 2.0 points in 4.5 minutes over 35 games during his two NBA seasons with the Clippers. The 23-year-old also played in 27 contests (all starts) for the Agua Caliente Clippers of the NBA G League in 2019-20, averaging 18.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals and 1.9 blocks in 31.2 minutes.

Selected with the 27th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft by Brooklyn, Kabengele played two collegiate seasons at Florida State, earning the 2018-19 ACC Sixth Man of the Year award and 2019 All-ACC Tournament First Team honors. He is the nephew of NBA legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo.

Kabengele will wear jersey #27 for the Cavaliers.

Nuggets sign Shaquille Harrison, waive Gary Clark and Greg Whittington

The Denver Nuggets have signed guard Shaquille Harrison to a two-way contract while subsequently waiving guard Gary Clark and two-way forward Greg Whittington, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly announced today.

Harrison, 6-4, 190, played in 17 games for the Utah Jazz this season, averaging 1.0 points, 0.5 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 3.3 minutes per game. In four seasons, with Phoenix, Chicago, and Utah he holds career averages of 5.5 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 15.1 minutes. Harrison’s best season of his young career came in 2018-19 with Chicago where he played in 73 games (11 starts), averaging 6.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.9 assists, shooting 43.2% from the field in 19.6 minutes.

The 27-year-old went undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft and signed a contract with the Phoenix Suns in September 2016. He appeared in 133 games (all starts) in four years at The University of Tulsa, posting averages of 11.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.80 steals while shooting 44.4% from the field. He ranks second all-time at Tulsa with 461 career assists and third all time with 244 career steals.

Whittington, 6-8, 210, signed a two-way contract with the Nuggets on November 24th and appeared in four games totaling 12 minutes.

Clark, 6-6, 225, was acquired via trade by Denver from Orlando on March 25th, he appeared in a total of two games for the Nuggets.

Clippers sign forward Malik Fitts to 10-day contract

The LA Clippers have signed forward Malik Fitts to a 10-day contract.

Fitts, 23, appeared in 14 games for the Agua Caliente Clippers this season, averaging 11.1 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.4 assists. A training camp invitee this season, Fitts appeared in two preseason games for the Clippers.

Fitts played two collegiate seasons at Saint Mary’s, where he appeared in 68 games and averaged 15.9 points and 7.3 rebounds while shooting 47.3 percent from the field. Prior to transferring to Saint Mary’s, the 6-foot-8 forward played his first college season at South Florida, where he appeared in 27 games and averaged 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds. A native of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Fitts was named to the 2019-20 All-WCC First Team and the 2018-19 All-WCC Second Team.

Raptors waive Patrick McCaw

The Toronto Raptors have waived forward Patrick McCaw.

In five games this season, McCaw totaled five points, three rebounds and four assists in 33 minutes.

McCaw signed as a free agent Jan. 10, 2019 and re-signed with Raptors the following offseason. In 68 games with Toronto, he averaged 3.6 points, 2.0 rebounds and 18.9 minutes and helped the Raptors capture their first NBA championship in 2019.