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.
Dwyane Wade is secure in his legacy. He’s an all-time great, and an extra missed 3-pointer during his farewell tour won’t change anything. (It doesn’t hurt that his resumé already includes subpar 3-point shooting.)
So, when many players would hold the ball, Wade heaved in a halfcourt shot to end the third quarter of the Heat’s 110-105 win over the Spurs on Wednesday. It wasn’t the biggest shot of Wade’s season, but it still mattered plenty.
Miami’s lead when San Antonio began intentionally fouling late? Three.
The Grizzlies blew a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter and a five-point lead in the final 30 seconds of overtime. James Harden scored 57 points, including 18 in the fourth quarter and all 10 of the Rockets points in overtime.
But Jonas Valanciunas saved Memphis from total collapse. He drew a foul on his putback and hit the game-winning free-throw with 0.1 seconds left to give the Grizzlies a 126-125 win Wednesday.
Jimmer Fredette remains a fascination because he scored a ton at BYU eight years ago and… other reasons.
He has been lighting it up in China, and his season there just ended. Now, the former No. 10 pick could return to the NBA after three years away.
John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:
Phoenix still needs another point guard, and the 6-foot-2 Fredette looks like one. But he hasn’t shown the playmaking to play point guard regularly. He’s better, and sometimes even effective, off the ball.
Fredette could have stuck in the NBA with a different attitude. His long-distance shooting was an asset.
But he’s also now 30 years old. A new approach likely won’t be enough. His shortcomings, particularly defensively, will be even more pronounced as his athleticism has declined.
The Suns are bad and will remain bad, with or without Fredette. But their younger players have shown signs of progress lately. Fredette’s high-usage style could interfere with their development.
It’s hard to see the upside here other than a brief uptick in attention.
Marcus Smart recently bemoaned the lack of physicality in the NBA.
After Joel Embiid dropped his shoulder into him on a screen, Smart brought some to tonight’s Celtics-76ers game.
Smart shoved Embiid in the back, sending the center to the floor. A cheap shot? Yes. Embiid wasn’t looking. But Smart would surely argue Embiid started it. I also doubt Smart intended to push Embiid from behind. Smart just wanted to get at Embiid as quickly as possible, and Embiid happened to be facing the other way when Smart arrived.
Smart got a flagrant 2 and the accompanying ejection. Embiid received a technical foul.