If the Toronto Raptors are serious about making a playoff run this season they will need Kyle Lowry at the point. At 22-21 they currently lead the Atlantic Division and would be the four seed heading into the playoffs, and in the East the idea of the Raptors making the second round of the playoffs if they remain a sixth seed or higher is a reasonable one.
But being the third best team in the East this season is fool’s gold and Raptors GM Masai Ujiri knows it, he knows he needs to build long term. He also knows it is likely Lowry bolts Toronto via free agency this summer.
Which path is Toronto going to take?
Marc Stein of ESPN says other people around the league think they will be moving Lowry.
Toronto is in a good position here.
This is a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008 and has only gone twice in the past dozen years. A playoff run, even one that just lasted one round, is something the fans would enjoy (especially since the Andrew Wiggins dream is all but dead for them). As long as Toronto keeps Lowry they are almost a lock to make the playoffs in the East (although streaking Brooklyn could catch them for the Atlantic Division lead).
And if a team does present Toronto with a good offer for Lowry, they take it and build for the future. Which is what is happening there this year whether they take a one-year detour into the postseason or not.
The bottom line, expect a lot of Lowry Trade rumors the next few weeks as we race toward the Feb. 20 trade deadline.
Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.
His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.
George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).
As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.
Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.
This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?
He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.
The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.
“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”
As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.
“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”
Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.
I think Cousins can help provide that.
I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.