Toronto Raptors vs Chicago Bulls

Report: Raptors may be able to keep Kyle Lowry next season


Toronto GM Masai Ujiri got a lot of calls about Kyle Lowry in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, but he turned them all away — Toronto is the No. 3 seed in the East and the Atlantic Division leaders. Surprising though that is. And with a real chance to not only make the playoffs but also advance to the second round for only the second time in franchise history. Toronto has to take it. And they can’t make that run without Lowry.

Lowry becomes a free agent this summer and it’s been the conventional wisdom that he is gone and Toronto will resume its rebuilding process after this detour.

Don’t be so sure — Lowry could be back with the Raptors next season, reports the Toronto Sun.

If Ujiri believed there was zero chance of re-signing Lowry, you can bet a fair amount of money he would have found a way to get some return on Lowry before he jumped ship.

The fact that he is still here at least suggests not only that Ujiri has in an interest in retaining him, but that he believes he has a fair chance of getting his signature on another contract….

“People are going to say it’s a contract year, but in our opinion the kid has played all out and he has given it his all,” Ujiri said of Lowry. “Kyle has adjusted. We set some good rules and had good talks with him (at the beginning of the season). He was up front with us and we were up front with him … and he is living up to his part and I think we have lived up to our part too and that’s how you build partnerships and we’ll see how he grows.”

The question is cost. Lowry is likely going to land a multi-year deal likely north of $8 million a season. How far north and how much the Raptors are willing to pay to keep him are the questions — with Lowry and DeMar DeRozan the Raptors would to be a respectable team, a playoff team. Not one tanking to get better.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $120,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $13,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here’s the FanDuel link.

It’s something to watch, there’s become a comfort level with Lowry in Toronto, but in the end he’s going to go where the dollars lead him.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.