Tag: Toronto Raptor

Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks

Report: Rockets sign Chuck Hayes to one-year deal

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Chuck Hayes spent the first six years of his NBA career in Houston, never giving them many points but instead giving them good defense in the post, strength on the glass, and hustle everywhere on the court.

Now he’s back.

After a down year in Toronto, Hayes is heading to Houston to help round out a deep front court, reports Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports.

The Rockets are close to rounding out their roster, but don’t expect them to be spending much to do it, notes former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks.

Teammates love Hayes and love playing with him, which is why this is a good pickup for Houston. All Hayes does is work hard and do the little things — battles on the boards, sets hard screens, and play physical defense. He is a consummate professional.

He’s also one that has battled injuries and had a couple down seasons in a row.

That said, it’s a low-risk move for Houston to help round out a strong frontcourt already. Dwight Howard and probably Terrence Jones will start, behind them is the underrated Donatas Motiejunas, plus youngsters Clint Capela and Montrezl Harrell. This could mean fewer minutes for Capela and Harrell, but there should be chances for everyone.

This is simply another solid addition to a title contending team.

Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey says expect more small ball from the Raptors this year

Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards - Game Four
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Dwane Casey didn’t follow the small ball trend much last season. Leaning on Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson as his starting front line and guys like Patrick Patterson behind them, Casey didn’t experiment with putting the athletic DeMar DeRozan at the four much last season (not enough to draw any real conclusions).

That could change this coming season, especially with the addition of DeMarre Carroll.

Casey still prefers to go big. But considering that Johnson now in Boston and Carroll replaces him, plus surveying the landscape of the East, expect to see the Raptors go smaller next season at times, Casey told the Toronto Sun.

“I think the trend now is smaller basketball but I’ve always said as long as the goal is 10 foot high, size matters,” Casey said during an appearance at the team’s summer camp at Humber College on Monday. “But DeMarre (Carroll) can play the four, the three. He can guard the four position with LeBron James at the four, Carmelo Anthony at the four, Paul George back and at the four. He helps us in that respect.

“You can play Kyle (Lowry) and Cory (Joseph) at the same time, you can play Kyle, Cory and DeMar (DeRozan) at the same time. We’ve got a lot of flexibility as far as our roster is concerned.”

A lineup with Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, DeRozan, Carroll and Valanciunas would be interesting. It should be explored at the very least.

Raptors GM Masai Ujiri revamped the Raptors roster this summer into something that will be more defensive oriented. That’s where Carroll comes in, and that will be the biggest adjustment for Toronto this season. They had been a Top 10 defense just a couple of years ago, the goal is to get back to that being a calling card.

But to me, making that work — and making the offense work with those lineups — will come back to Valanciunas. For the Raptors to take a real step forward, he is going to have to make leaps forward, and that has to start with rim protection on defense. It’s not been his forte, he needs to become more of a force that way.

Also, Valanciunas shoots a high percentage with his touches in the paint and close to the basket. Will a smaller lineup with some shooters around him (Carroll at the four, he shot 39.4 percent from three) open up space inside for him to operate?

Toronto is still going to win enough games to win the Atlantic division this season. They have some talent and will put up points. But there is going to need to be success with both small ball and more Valanciunas to take a leap back up with teams in the second tier in the conference such as Chicago, Atlanta, Washington and Miami.

Brazil’s automatic basketball bid for 2016 Olympics in jeopardy over money

Tiago Splitter, Rudy Fernandez, Leandrinho Barbosa

Two spots in the 2016 Rio Olympics men’s basketball tournament are secure.

One spot in the 2016 Rio Olympics men’s basketball tournament is secure.

The United States is guaranteed entry by virtue of winning the 2014 World Cup.

Brazil was believed to be a lock as the host country, but that’s no longer so certain.

David Ebner Vancouver of The Globe and Mail:

Last month, FIBA, basketball’s international ruling body, set a deadline of July 31 for the Brazilian Basketball Federation to pay “significant outstanding dues” to FIBA “in order to be granted automatic qualification places for Rio 2016.”

FIBA did not explain what the unpaid dues were for, or exactly how much money was owed – estimates suggest it could be $1-million. That, of course, is a fraction of the $12-billion or so that Brazil’s organizing committee is spending to stage the Games.

Earlier this year, according to a FIBA spokesman, CBB proposed to repay the debt on a schedule extending to 2019. FIBA said no, and set the deadline. Its spokesman explained by e-mail: “A solution needs to be found by [July 31, 2015] so that all participating teams know the qualification process for the Olympic Games and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.”

Most likely, Brazil will just pay these dues. But if this matter remains unresolved, Brazil could potentially still qualify for the Olympics through other means.

Brazil is scheduled to compete in the FIBA Americas Championship next month, though perhaps FIBA would block Brazil’s inclusion based on these unpaid dues. The top two teams in the tournament qualify for the Olympics, and the U.S. – Olympic berth already clinched – isn’t competing. With several NBA players to draw upon – Nene, Tiago Splitter, Anderson Varejao, Leandro Barbosa, Lucas Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo  – Brazil would be a strong contender.

But if Brazil needs to use one of the FIBA Americas’ two qualifying slots, that closes a door for the other nine teams in the tournament:

  • Canada
  • Argentina
  • Puerto Rico
  • Dominican Republic
  • Venezuela
  • Mexico
  • Panama
  • Cuba
  • Uruguay

Safe to say, these other North and South American teams are rooting for Brazil to settle with FIBA.

Report: Nicolas Batum wants to play in Toronto

Nicolas Batum, Quincy Poindexter

When the Hornets traded former lottery pick Noah Vonleh to Portland for Nicolas Batum, it was always going to be something of a gamble. Batum has just one year left on his contract, and will become a free agent in time for the massive salary cap spike of 2016. Charlotte will have to pay big if they want to keep him, and Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports that the French forward has his sights set on another team: Toronto.

Batum is an impending unrestricted free agent on a borderline playoff team, diving into an unprecedented cap frenzy in which two-dozen suitors could offer $20 million per season. Batum’s people have already made noise about how much Batum would like to play in Toronto, a city that appeals to his international roots, per several league sources. He is a flight risk, even though both Cho and Chad Buchanan, the team’s assistant GM, know Batum well from their days in Portland. “We are very comfortable given that Chad and Rich know Nic well,” Polk says.

This is all purely hypothetical at this point, because Batum’s free agency is a year away, but the Toronto fit is interesting. They could potentially have an opening on the wing if DeMar DeRozan opts out of the final year of his deal, which he almost certainly will. DeRozan could command max money in next summer’s free-agent market, and it’s very possible that the Raptors will be uninterested in giving him that type of money. A defensive duo of Batum and DeMarre Carroll on the perimeter is incredibly versatile and dangerous, and Batum is an outstanding passer and ballhandler in addition to a solid shooter. It would cost the Raptors a lot to sign him, but if his interest in playing there is real, he’d be a good fit for the team Masai Ujiri is building.

Lakers’ coach Byron Scott says Kobe Bryant will “probably” play some power forward

Kobe Bryant, Byron Scott

We knew that with a guard rotation of Jordan Clarkson, D’Angelo Russell and Lou Williams, the Lakers were going to slide Kobe Bryant over to the three for stretches this season. And when Lakers’ trainer Gary Vitti discussed it with him, Kobe’s reaction was “I can do that.” Which is probably Kobe’s reaction to every question he is ever asked — “Hey Kobe, could you land a 747?” — but in this case he certainly can do it if healthy.

But how about Kobe at as a small four?

Not sure how Kobe feels about it, but Lakers’ coach Byron Scott is thinking about it, he told David Aldridge of NBA.com (hat tip to NBA Reddit).

“The one thing that we wanted to do and accomplish through this draft and through free agency was to try and be a little more versatile, have some versatility. So I think (Clarkson, Russell, Williams) can definitely do that. Kobe can play one, two and three. There’s no doubt in my mind. And there’s some games. against some teams, where he’ll probably play four. With his tenaciousness, the way he guards people and when his mind is set, if I say ‘Kobe, you’ve got him,’ he takes that as a challenge. You know how he is. He’ll compete.”

This is a decent idea, one worth exploring, if it is situational (the Lakers tried it very, very briefly last season).

If the Lakers are playing the Toronto Raptors and they’ve gone small with DeMarre Carroll at the four, the Lakers can match that with Kobe. Same with the Wizards if they go small and slide Jared Dudley to the four. Orlando if they go small with Tobias Harris at the four. There are matchups where this could work for the Lakers — not for long stretches, playing against bigger guys would take a toll on Kobe’s body, but for 5-10 minutes it could work.

However, notice all the teams noted above are in the East. The problem is that in the West most of the teams have fours Kobe would simply not be able to match defensively — Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin, Serge Ibaka (or the Thunder go small with Kevin Durant), LaMarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph, Dirk Nowitzki, Draymond Green, and the list goes on. The West is simply a different animal with the forward spots.

That’s why most of the Lakers’ minutes at the four will be split between Julius Randle and Brandon Bass. Still, I could see a short stretch with three shooters to space the floor, Kobe at the four and Bass at the five. It’s worth taking a look at in preseason and early in the season. Scott is right, versatility matters more and more in the NBA. We’ll see if he puts that plan into action.