Report: Raptors have talked about trading Rudy Gay, being patient

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When the Toronto Raptors traded for Rudy Gay last year, some saw it as a bold and smart move for a franchise that needs a star. Others saw it as the last desperate gasp of Bryan Colangelo.

What we know is it wasn’t Masai Ujiri ‘s move, and he is the current general manager of the Raptors.

In a fantastic story on Ujiri in the National Post that looks at where he came from and how that and his basketball background influence where he might take the Raptors (you should read the entire thing), comes the tidbit Ujiri may move Gay

Sources say he has talked about moving Rudy Gay, but he has been patient. He dealt Andrea Bargnani, built a bench that may double as a self-destruct button, and prepared.

Gay will make $17.8 million this season and has a player option for next season ($19.3 million) — at age 27 he is expected to opt out, become a free agent and seek the security of a longer deal. The Raptors can offer five years, other teams four.

It’s unlikely the Raptors will offer anything near that high, and if Ujiri doesn’t want him or if he doesn’t think he can keep him, he may have to pull the trigger.

The other part of that equation is how the Raptors fair to start the season — the dynamic is different if they are in a playoff position or close to one than it does if the team is out of it and it’s time to go for lottery Ping-Pong balls.

How you feel about Gay likely says a lot about how you feel about the advanced stats movement in basketball. He is kind of the fault line. Gay’s fans will talk about the athletic guy who can create his own shot, make plays for others and has a career 18 points a game average. His detractors don’t think he’s terrible, they think he’s above average but a volume scorer — he’s averaged 15.3 shots a game to get those 18 points — who is not efficient.

Ujiri isn’t from the Daryl Morey school, but he does listen to his stats guys and he isn’t afraid to trade big names.

I have a feeling either Gay or DeMar DeRozan will get moved this season, just something for you to keep an eye on.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”

 

Danny Ainge says Celtics will apply for Disabled Player Exception

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It’s not likely Gordon Hayward returns this season. His agent said as much, although a return in March is not out of the question. (It’s better PR wise for the Celtics to say he is out for the season, then if he returns early great, it’s better than setting a deadline he doesn’t meet.)

With that, the Celtics are going to apply for the Disabled Player Exception, which could help them land a replacement player, Danny Ainge told Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe.

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge told the Globe on Friday the club is applying for the Disabled Player Exception, which would provide the Celtics $8.4 million to pursue a player to fill Hayward’s roster spot.

“We’re in the process of doing that,’’ Ainge said. “We have a while to do that. There’s no urgency, but we will apply for that.”

There are limits to what that money can get the Celtics. The money is the same as the mid-level exception, the Celtics can go over the cap to use it, and the player can be obtained via free agency or trade. However, the player must be in the last year of his contract.

It gives the Celtics options. It also does not mean Hayward cannot return, it only means NBA-approved doctors determined he is not likely to return before a mid-June deadline.