Toronto Raptors v Memphis Grizzlies

Report: Raptors sign James Johnson to two-year deal


When the Raptors traded James Johnson for a second-round pick in 2012one year after acquiring him for a first-round pick – there were somewhat-conflicting explanations for the trade.

Doug Smith of the Toronto Star emphasized the roster makeup:

“James is a tremendous athlete who has a toughness you love,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey. “With the abundance of wings we have, there would not have been enough minutes.”

Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Suns emphasized Johnson’s relationship with Casey while acknowledging a crowded roster:

The Raptors and Johnson did not see eye-to-eye over his role and at one point last season Johnson was benched by Casey for a pair of games after an undisclosed indiscretion, though the coach insisted that was not the reason he was moved.

“We had our moments like you’re always going to do,” Casey said. “All the great athletes, it doesn’t bother me whatsoever, but we just had a glut of wings. James would not have been happy in that situation, competing for those minutes from the start.

The Raptors still have wing depth (though a little less after trading Steve Novak to the Jazz), and they still have Casey.

And, once again, they’ll have Johnson.

Doug Smith of The Toronto Star:

Johnson had a fairly strong season in Memphis before being arrested for domestic assault in June. He pleaded not guilty, but the charge – including nasty allegations of slapping and choking his wife – likely lowered his stock in free agency.

It’s possible Johnson contributes to the Raptors, who probably didn’t need to extend a large contract offer given the circumstances. First, he must address this important issue in his personal life.

LeBron says “get it done” message was for both Cavaliers, Thompson

LeBron James
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Everything LeBron James does and says gets magnified and scrutinized.

So when he put out this photo on Instagram standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Tristan Thompson and the caption “get it done” it seemed a message to the Cavaliers.

Get it done!!!! Straight up. #MissMyBrother @realtristan13

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

LeBron clarified that on Sunday, saying this has become a distraction, and the message was for both sides to bend, as reported by Dave McMenamin of ESPN and Chris Haynes of the Plain Dealer.

When Thompson didn’t sign the qualifying offer he surrendered a lot of leverage, the Cavaliers don’t have to raise their five-year, $80 million offer — but reportedly they still would, a little. Thompson and his agent Rich Paul have pushed for a max contract, but that’s not happening.

At some point, the two sides will come to an agreement. For the Cavaliers, this is a distraction, their star is unhappy with that, and ultimately if they are going to make a title run they need the energy and rebounding Thompson brings (even if it is just off the bench). For Thompson, he can’t make up a year of lost salary, he has to come in and start getting paid at some point.

The two sides will get it done. Eventually. Likely before the season tips off.

China basketball qualifies for 2016 Olympics

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China has secured the ninth and final Olympic men’s basketball berth awarded this year.

China earned the bid to the 2016 Rio Games with a 78-67 win over the Philippines. 2016 first-round draft prospect Qi Zhou had 16 points and 14 rebounds, setting up the Olympics to be his big introduction to American fans.

Former NBA player Yi Jianlian won tournament MVP by averaging 16.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks per game.

This will be China’s ninth straight Olympic appearance.

The Philippines, who got 17 points from Andray Blatche in the final, will still go to an Olympic Qualifying Tournament next summer with a chance to reach Rio.