Tag: Toronto Raptor


Manu Ginobili, Carlos Delfino both sitting out FIBA Americans for Argentina


It’s the season of Olympic qualifying tournaments: Australia is already in, AfroBasket is going on, EuroBasket starts next month, and don’t forget there is FIBA Americas where teams from north and south America try to join the already qualified USA (World Cup winners) and Brazil (host nation) in Rio.

Argentina, which won the gold medal in Greece in 2004 and the bronze in 2008 in China, will again be trying to qualify for the Rio Olympics, but they will have to do it without a couple stars — Manu Ginobili and Carlos Delfino.

From Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun (Canadians are following closely because they believe they can win the FIBA Tournament and qualify).

Gregg Popovich is smiling somewhere. Ginobili is 38, coming up on likely his last NBA season, but the Spurs will still count on his creative playmaking off the bench. They don’t want him worn down.

Delfino has battled injuries, hasn’t been on an NBA court since 2013, and is currently unsigned. He’s not healthy enough to pitch in much.

Argentina still has Luis Scola, but their “golden generation” that helped change international basketball has started to age out of competition. Which is a little sad, that was a fun team to watch, but father time always wins the race.

DeMar DeRozan working on three-point shot this summer

Toronto Raptors v Charlotte Hornets

Last season, Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan made his living in the midrange.

Only 8.9 percent of his shots came from three (and he shot just 28.9 percent on them, although that jumped to 34 percent after the All-Star break). Instead, 56.6 percent of DeRozan’s shots came between 10 feet out and the arc, and he shot just below 38 percent on those. While the league-wide pushback on midrange jumpers can get taken too far, if you’re going to take them you better make them. Nobody complains about Dirk Nowitzki’s midrange shots — more than 60 percent of his shots are from 10 feet to the three-point line, but he hits nearly 48 percent of them. DeRozan is dynamic when he can attack the rim, but if there are obstacles in his way he too easily settles for a midrange jumper he does not hit.

This year, DeRozan going to try to become a more reliable threat from three to open things up. New Raptor DeMarre Carroll has been watching DeRozan and talked about stretching out his shot to the Toronto Sun.

“(NBA three-point leader) Kyle Korver told me the three-point shot is just more repetition. The more you shoot it, the better you’ll get at it. I feel like if DeMar will keep working on it, it will eventually come,” Carroll said…

“I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of other things he worked on in his game and he’s a dominant offensive player (already),” Carroll said. “So I think if he adds that three-point to his game it’ll take us over the top.”

The Raptors have overhauled their roster to become more defensive minded — that’s why Carroll was their top free agent target. They wanted a quality wing defender, and they got one of the best.

With this new roster look for even more threes — the Raptors were ninth in the NBA in three-pointers attempted last season and made a respectable 35.2 percent of them (12th in the NBA). If, as expected, Toronto starts Kyle Lowry, DeRozan, Carroll, and Patrick Patterson around Jonas Valanciunas, that’s potentially four three-point shooters on the floor around a big who demands a double in the post. Throw in a quicker pace (the Raptors were bottom 10) and the chance to get a few more threes in transition, and the Raptors could be bombs away from deep this season. Which will be a good thing, especially if DeRozan knocks them down.

The Raptors needed to make changes, their unimpressive first-round playoff exit (and the second half of last season) made that clear. But transitions are rarely smooth, and there are going to be some bumps early on for the Raptors as their focus shifts. Especially if those threes don’t fall for a stretch.


Masai Ujiri: Raptors have talked contract extension with Terrence Ross

Washington Wizards v Toronto Raptors

The Raptors signed Jonas Valanciunas to a contract extension.

Now, they turn to their other player eligible for a rookie-scale extension – Terrence Ross.

Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun:

How much do the Raptors value Ross? They just signed DeMarre Carroll to push Ross from the starting lineup. I doubt they’ll invest heavily in Ross at this point.

Ross regressed last year after making nice progress in his second season. He shot worse, still did a woeful job getting to the free-throw line and again suffered too many defensive breakdowns.

For the second straight year, Ross was terrible in the playoffs. That can be attributed to a small sample, but there’s no way to spin it as a positive.

Ross underwent offseason ankle surgery. Toronto should know better than me whether a lingering injury excuses some of his struggles or there are concerns about Ross’ athleticism going forward – or both.

Still, Ross is just 24 and talented. If he’ll accept a smaller extension in exchange for security, this might be the right time to buy low on him.

Many teams fall into the trap of paying a player based on the optimistic projection of his future. As long as the Raptors focus on a realistic projection, they’ll be OK.

I doubt that number would please Ross. But it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Report: Jonas Valanciunas’ contract extension worth $64 million

Toronto Raptors v Orlando Magic

Jonas Valanciunas agreed to a contract extension.

Now, that has turned into an official deal, and the financial terms have leaked.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

This is a little higher than the report that used $60 million as its baseline, but it hardly changes my conclusion: The Raptors got a steal.

Valanciunas is good, has a strong track of improvement and, at age 23, should continue to develop.

It wouldn’t have been the least bit surprising to see him get a max contract (projected to be worth more than $93 million) as a restricted free agent next summer. So many teams will have cap space to burn with the salary cap skyrocketing.

Valanciunas is already one of the NBA’s best low-post scorers. If he progresses defensively – and Dwane Casey is the right coach to help him – Valanciunas could anchor one heck of a team in Toronto.

Kyle Lowry is the Raptors’ unquestioned leader right now, and DeMar DeRozan and DeMarre Carroll are important cogs. But Valanciunas’ youth adds tremendous value.

Toronto has a team that can win now and in the future. Locking Valanciunas into a relatively cheap deal should only help them add pieces down the road.

For him, the guarantee of $64 million is life-changing money. The chance at more as a free agent obviously didn’t appeal as much as the security of this extension.

His risk-aversion is the Raptors’ gain.

Report: Raptors and Jonas Valanciunas agree to contract extension

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards- Game Three
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Jonas Valanciunas and the Raptors were reportedly near a four-year extension worth more than $60 million.

It appears they’ve finalized the terms.

Josh Lewenberg of TSN:

If it’s worth anywhere near $60 million over four years, the Raptors got a steal.

With the salary cap projected to skyrocket next season, a max extension would have projected to pay Valanciunas more than $93 million over four years. A lot of teams will have max-level cap space, some of which could use a center. I’m not sure Valanciunas would have gotten the full max as a free agent, but I bet he could have gotten more than $15 million per season.

Alas, we won’t find out, with Valanciunas apparently opting for the security of signing now.

The 7-foot-1 Valanciunas has developed nicely during his three NBA seasons. There’s no reason that shouldn’t continue, considering he’s just 23.

Valanciunas is a skilled interior scorer, and he rebounds pretty well. His defense needs work, and shoring up his play on that end of the court would go a long way in earning more minutes from Dwane Casey. But Valanciunas’ size and mobility gives him potential as a rim-protector.

The Raptors aren’t paying him for what he’s done. They’re paying him for what he’ll do the next four years, and I think that will work very well for Toronto.