The Raptors did not win the Steve Nash sweepstakes, but it looks like they have landed a very good and underrated point guard. At least for next season.
The Raptors reportedly have reached a deal for Rockets point guard Kyle Lowry, reports Marc Stein at ESPN. The trade would be for a future first-round pick, and David Aldridge of NBA.com is saying that it is required to be a lottery pick. Which is the reverse of the traditional lottery-protected pick.
But Lowry would be worth it … if they can keep him.
Lowry was a borderline All-Star point guard at the start of last season, and on the year he averaged 14.3 points and 6.6 assists per game with a PER of 18.9. But he went down with an injury and Goran Dragic almost Wally Pipped him, playing so well Lowry never got his regular minutes and rotation back. Which led to issues between Lowry and coach Kevin McHale and Lowry asking to be shipped out of Houston.
With Lowry and incoming rookie Terrence Ross and last year’s pick Jonas Valanciunas, and with coach Dwane Casey getting Toronto to actually play defense last season, the Raptors become an interesting team. Likely not a playoff team, but interesting. And the Raptors will get the full effort from Lowry because he is a free agent next summer.
The question is can the Raptors keep him. Otherwise they may miss this future lottery pick as they rebuild.
As for Houston… who needs a point guard? Dragic is headed to the Suns, Lowry is a Raptor and while they are making an offer to Jeremy Lin the Knicks will match.
Still, I like what Houston is doing in this sense — they were stuck in the NBA’s middle ground, fighting for a late playoff spot and getting an okay pick every year. Even if they have to go backward to go forward, they are shaking themselves out of that rut.
Craig Sager couldn’t be in Rio covering the Olympics for NBC, his cancer wouldn’t allow it. That didn’t stop Team USA from reaching out to him before they left. Or from Nike designing a sweet pair of shoes for him.
Now there is good news on his battle against leukemia — he will have a third bone marrow transplant, according to his son Craig Sager II.
This is fantastic news for a man and family who have been through a lot. Hopefully, this treatment is a step forward for Sager, a man beloved by everyone around the NBA.
The Oklahoma City frontcourt is crowded. Enes Kanter and Steven Adams will start, and they will have Nick Collison, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis, and now Joffrey Lauvergne behind them.
Which likely means Mitch McGary‘s done as a member of the Thunder, according to Royce Young of ESPN.
McGary has battled injuries his two seasons in the league and got on the court for only 72 minutes total last season for the Thunder (he played in more games and put up solid numbers in the D-LEague). He was not part of the future there regardless. He’s an undersized five trying to play the four and what he brought as a rookie — energy — was not enough as a sophomore.
McGary will make $1.5 million this season. He may be tough to move because he’s suspended for the first five games he’s eligible to play next season for failing the league’s drug policy (five games is the standard suspension for testing positive for marijuana three times). Maybe a team looking to develop players will give him a shot, but there is little trade value for him.
If you can knock down a 19-foot shot, then a 15-footer should be easier. Right?
Apparently that — and just basic muscle memory — is the latest attempt to improve Dwight Howard‘s free throw shooting. And, he seems to be knocking down those shots.
It’s not hard to see the logic in this approach.
The challenge is form and reps are not the problems for Howard — or DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond or others — when it comes to hitting free throws. Anyone who says “why don’t they just practice the shot” doesn’t pay attention, these guys put in a lot of work on the shot. Pregame and in practice (I’m Los Angeles based), Jordan probably hits 65 percent from the line. At least.
The problem is mental. That can be a tougher hurdle to clear. Maybe taking 19 footers and knocking them down will have Howard feeling more confident at the stripe this season.
But we’re going to need to see it to believe it. Just like we’re going to have to see a rejuvenated Howard in Atlanta before we believe this season will be different from the last few.
Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.
Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.