Toronto frequently uses two-point guard lineups. So, there should be plenty of room for Lin to contribute.
He and Hawks had been playing better lately, but Atlanta is focused on rebuilding. So, this isn’t a big loss as much as it shows a lost opportunity.
Lin will likely follow the footsteps of Marco Belinelli and Ersan Ilyasova, who got bought out by the Hawks last season then helped a playoff team (76ers). It’s not ideal for Atlanta to keep losing solid veterans for no return, but the trade deadline has passed. Might as well let Lin go where he wants at this point. Also maybe find a trade next time.
But this is good for the Raptors, good for Lin and – because of that – good for the Hawks’ reputation among players and agents.
Report: Raptors trade Greg Monroe, second-rounder to Nets
The Raptors just got better. Maybe much better. Gasol is averaging 15.7 points and 8.6 rebounds a game, but more than the numbers it’s what he opens up in the offense. Gasol is essentially a stretch five who can shoot the three (34.4 percent this season), is a gifted passer, is usually in the right place defensively, and plays a high-IQ game. Nick Nurse can open up his offense a little more with Gasol. He’s not what he was a few years ago, but he’s still an above-average NBA center who can be relied upon in the playoffs.
The second round of the East playoffs and beyond will be a bloodbath.
Toronto had started Serge Ibaka at center this season and brought Jonas Valanciunas off the bench. That almost certainly changes now and Ibaka will have to adapt to a new role, but what this trade gives the Raptors is versatility to adapt to whatever Boston/Milwaukee/Philadelphia throws at them.
Gasol is under contract through 2019-20, with a $25.6 million player option for next season. He had suggested to the Grizzlies that he would opt out, but if Kawhi Leonard stays in Toronto past this season — a big “if” but possible — would Gasol opt-in?
For the Grizzlies, who were determined to trade Gasol rather than get nothing for him, this is probably as good a trade as they could find. It’s not great, but it will save Memphis money and help start the rebuild. Valanciunas has a player option for next season at $17.6 million that he’s expected to opt out of (looking for more long-term security), although he could stay on. Delon Wright will be a restricted free agent this summer, and C.J. Miles has a player option for $8.7 million for next season. The Grizzlies liked that better than the Charlotte offer, which would have added more salary (around $30 million in unwanted total) for next season but provided a mid-first-round pick this summer.
Three Things to Know: Russell Westbrook makes history, Paul George has 47 in comeback win
It was that night because Russell Westbrook would finish with 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 17 assists — his 108th career triple-double, moving him past Jason Kidd into third on the all-time list.
It was OKC’s night because Paul George — having arguably the best season of his career so far — dropped 47 points, including hitting the game winner. (As a side note: How do both Spencer Dinwiddie and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson go with Westbrook and nobody slides over with George when George slips the pick> He was wide open because of it.)
The Thunder are one of the NBA’s hottest teams, having won four in a row and 9-of-11, with the NBA’s best defense as the cornerstone of what they do. Built on that defensive foundation, and between their two superstars, the Thunder find a way to get enough offense to rack up the victories. This was the Thunder team management there pictured a season ago, and this year they still get Andre Roberson back at some point.
The Thunder are one of the best teams in the West and look to be a threat next April and May when the playoffs roll around.
2) Toronto’s win shows they are the current class of the East, while Philadelphia has work to do.In the latest PBT Podcast we did a deep dive on the Sixers with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Serena Winters — the team’s sideline reporter if you are watching on League Pass — and I asked her if the Sixers believed that they were right there with the East’s best. She said the team felt like right now it was half a step behind the elite, but that they could get there before the season ended.
Wednesday night that played out.
Toronto was clearly the better team in a 113-102 victory. It was a lot of things adding up.
• Philadelphia turned the ball over 21 times — 20.4 percent of their possessions or one in five trips down the court — as Toronto’s length and athleticism on defense threw the Sixers off their game.
• Kawhi Leonard had his best game as a Raptor, looking like an MVP-level player again, scoring 36 points on 24 shots, hitting 5-of-6 from three, and on the other end disrupting Ben Simmons on offense and making five steals. Leonard was the best player on the floor.
• The Raptors have three big men they can throw at Joel Embiid, giving the Sixers cornerstone both different looks and keeping a fresh body on him at all times, plus really make Embiid work on both ends of the court. Embiid finished the night with 10 points on 5-of-17 shooting. In contrast, Jonas Valanciunas had 26 points in 17 minutes of play.
• The Toronto guards — Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, and in spots Fred VanVleet — also did a great job of digging down and helping on Embiid in the post and still getting back out to challenge J.J. Redick and other Sixers shooters.
• Toronto’s bench was back to its dominant ways for a night, outscoring the Philadelphia bench 41-18, led by OG Anunoby, Delon Wright and VanVleet.
There were bright spots for the Sixers — Jimmy Butler had 38 points and impressed.
As Winters’ said, the Sixers can get to the level of the elite by the end of the season, maybe with more time for their core to gel, maybe with some trade/waiver wire pickups just to bolster the depth. Philadelphia is good and they are close.
But right now, Toronto is the class of the East.
3) LeBron James takes over the fourth quarter for Lakers, but is that part of the problem in L.A.? Magic Johnson may want a more egalitarian offense for the Lakers, with multiple playmakers and scorers, but that ignores one fact:
Nobody takes over a game like LeBron James.
LeBron had 20 points in a dominant fourth quarter, leading the Lakers past the struggling Spurs 121-113. The Lakers have won four in a row and are 15-9 now on the season because LeBron is playing at a level that puts him in the MVP conversation.
The question Thursday became: If LeBron is that dominant, does it make it harder for the Lakers to attract a second superstar?
Kevin Durantsaid yes it can, for some players. It wasn’t a dig at LeBron, it was an honest statement — not every superstar in the NBA is at a place in their careers where teaming up with LeBron in Los Angeles is what’s best for them. It wasn’t for Paul George, who last summer decided he wanted to stay in Oklahoma City, when one summer before his people were saying he was destined to be a Laker.
More importantly, the Lakers may not be a fit for free agents coming up this summer. Look at Durant, for example. He struggled to find a balance of alpha status in OKC with Westbrook, in Golden State he may well be their best player (he has been in the last two NBA Finals) but that is Stephen Curry‘s culture and team. If KD wants to carve out his own legacy now is playing next to LeBron how to best do that? Durant notes playing with the greatness of LeBron forces even elite players (Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love, Chris Bosh, etc.) to change their games to fit around him. Plus, the combination of LeBron in the celebrity culture of Los Angeles creates an off-court environment that is not for everyone (Durant called it “toxic”).
The Lakers will get their next superstar to pair with LeBron. Maybe next summer, maybe in 19 months, but it will happen. Just don’t assume that every superstar wants to rush to play with LeBron on the Lakers — it’s just not a fit for everyone.
No matter how amazing it is to watch LeBron take over games in the fourth quarter.
Are Raptors viable trade destination for Kawhi Leonard?
Toronto Raptors, I think they’re in the driver’s seat for Kawhi. Because I think the Lakers have given up. The Sixers have given up. And with the Nets, Bulls and Hawks spending their cap space, it makes it harder to assemble a multi-team trade. I think the Raptors are in the driver’s seat.
I’ve seen a lot of snark on Twitter that the Raptors stuff is a joke, that the odds went up because of something I said on my podcast and you said on TV. I’ve seen it being dismissed. It may not happen. Most NBA trades don’t happen. But if you think it’s a joke, you should probably recalibrate your expectations.
Because DeRozan and Lowry earn more than Leonard, the Raptors could also take back a costly contract San Antonio wants to dump.
Such a deal would allow the Spurs to remain competitive now while gaining long-term assets under greater team control than Leonard, who can walk in unrestricted free agency next summer.
It’d also give the the Raptors a championship chance they wouldn’t have next season otherwise. The window might not remain open long considering Leonard’s health and contract status, but there’s something to be said for raising the ceiling when it can reach that level – even if it means lowering the floor. Plus, if Leonard left, Toronto could more easily transition into its next phase than if DeRozan and Lowry remained on the books.
This trade framework makes too much sense for the teams not to discuss it. But whether that’d result in an actual deal is another question.