Jason Thompson

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Report: Veteran big man Jason Thompson agrees to deal in China

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Until this season, Jason Thompson had never been to the playoffs. He spent seven seasons in Sacramento before getting traded to the Warriors last offseason, and then signing with the Raptors midseason when Golden State waived him to make room on the roster for Anderson Varejao. His NBA days appear over, at least for now. International basketball reporter David Pick reports that Thompson has agreed to a deal to play in China.

Since the CBA’s season ends in March, Thompson could theoretically join an NBA team for the stretch run next year. But he didn’t appear to have much interest on the free-agent market this summer.

Report: Nets agree to two-year deal with former No. 1 pick Anthony Bennett

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Anthony Bennett‘s career has not gone the way anyone hoped. He was the No. 1 overall pick by the Cavaliers in 2013 and barely played his rookie year, before being included as a throw-in in the Andrew WigginsKevin Love trade in the summer of 2014. The Timberwolves bought him out last summer after a forgettable season, and he landed with the Raptors before being waived halfway through the season to make room for Jason Thompson.

But Bennett has found another home in the NBA, for now. The Vertical‘s Shams Charania reports that Bennett has agreed to a two-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets.

For the Nets, this is a no-risk gamble as GM Sean Marks has to keep finding creative ways to add to his roster with no draft picks coming up. Brooklyn’s new coach, Kenny Atkinson, is well-regarded for his ability to develop young players, so the hope is that he can get whatever there is to be gotten out of Bennett, who has thus far not shown much in his three seasons in the NBA.

Raptors beat Hawks 105-97 to notch franchise’s first 50-win season

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TORONTO (AP) — DeMar DeRozan scored 26 points, Jonas Valanciunas added 19 points and nine rebounds, and the Toronto Raptors earned their franchise-record 50th victory of the season Wednesday night, 105-97 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

DeRozan added six assists and five rebounds, while Kyle Lowry finished with 17 points, 11 assists and six rebounds as Toronto (50-24) won for just the second time in five games.

Toronto became the final franchise in the NBA to reach 50 in a season.

Jeff Teague had 18 points for the Hawks (45-31), whose four-game winning streak was snapped.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 15 points and Paul Millsap had seven points and nine rebounds for Atlanta, which has won 14 of its last 18 games.

The Raptors took the lead for good early in the first quarter and led by as many as 24 points late in the third before Atlanta scored 14 straight in the fourth period to make a game of it.

Data curated by PointAfter

Hardaway Jr. had eight points over that stretch, including a pair of 3-pointers.

But with the Toronto lead down to 93-84, the Raptors reeled off six straight points to re-establish some breathing room.

The Raptors led 89-67 going into the fourth quarter on the strength of a 31-14 run over the final nine minutes of the third.

After the Hawks opened the second half by scoring 12 of the first 16 points, Toronto took over.

The Raptors hit four 3s in the third quarter, including a pair by rookie guard Norman Powell, who had 10 points in the period.

Toronto had widened its lead to 54-41 at halftime as Lowry and DeRozan combined for 18 points in the second quarter alone, just three shy of the total scored by all Hawks in the period.

After missing his first six shots, Lowry hit back-to-back 3s on his way to 11 points in the quarter. DeRozan also hit a pair of 3s as the Raptors went 7 for 14 from beyond the arc in the half.

Teague was 5 for 9 for 10 points in the first half for the Hawks, who shot just two free throws through two quarters compared to 12 attempts for Toronto.

TIP-INS

Hawks: Atlanta turned the ball over 18 times, leading to 25 Toronto points, compared to 11 turnovers by the Raptors for 12 Hawks points. . Atlanta hit 14 of 33 from 3-point range, compared to 11 of 23 for Toronto.

Raptors: Forward Luis Scola sat out with a sore right knee and Jason Thompson got the start in his place. . Powell has scored in double figures in four straight games.

 

Kings give Vlade Divac multi-year contract extension

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Vlade Divac is the Kings’ general manager.

The Kings also plan to hire a general manager this summer.

But don’t think Divac is leaving Sacramento’s front office.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

Divac’s big move to date: trading valuable draft considerations and Nik Stauskas to dump Jason Thompson and Carl Landry on the 76ers. That July trade cleared cap space – but only after most of the top free agents had chosen their destinations.

Sacramento used the resulting cap room to sign two of Rajon Rondo, Kosta Koufos and Marco Belinelli. The Kings could’ve afforded one of the three without the Philadelphia trade. You can guess which they would’ve chosen. The best of the three, Rondo, is on just a one-year contract. So, after rehabbing his on-court image (at what seemed to be an above-market salary), he can leave in free agency this summer if he desires.

And that’s how Divac built a 29-45 team with a rickety future.

He also bothered other general managers by not returning calls and undermined Kings coach George Karl. At least Karl will soon be out. Divac must still learn how to productively work with the rest of the league.

DeMarcus Cousins – talented, young and under contract for two more seasons – gives Sacramento hope. He’s an All-Star, a legitimate franchise player. But the next two years can fly by, and then he’ll be an unrestricted free agent. The Kings can’t afford to waste time.

Divac has potential to handle this difficult situation, but he clearly needs to grow into the job. Blame owner Vivek Ranadive for hiring someone so ill-prepared, not Divac for learning to swim once thrown in the deep end.

David Morway – the former Pacers GM who was let go by the Bucks as assistant GM before the season – could help. He has the experience to guide Divac, who – despite his long playing career providing helpful perspective – is new to this side of the league.

But Morway also previously interviewed to run Sacramento’s front office. Do the Kings, an organization already plagued by in-fighting and leaks, want to create a situation ripe for a power struggle?

Just last year, they gave Karl a multi-year contract. Now, they’re reportedly trying to find a way out of it.

How long until Ranadive again changes direction and Divac is in the same boat?

Update: The Kings officially announced a new deal for Divac.

DeRozan gets FT record; Raptors beat Lillard, Blazers

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TORONTO (AP) DeMar DeRozan set an NBA record by making 24 straight free throws on his way to a season-high 38 points and the Toronto Raptors overcame a huge game from Damian Lillard to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 117-115 on Friday night for their franchise-record 12th straight home win.

Lillard scored 50 points, one shy of his career high set last month in a 137-105 win over Golden State.

DeRozan went 24 for 25 from the free-throw line, both career highs. Kyle Lowry had 28 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto.

Portland lost the season series to Toronto for the first time since 1996-97. C.J. McCollum added 24 for Portland, but he and Lillard were the only Blazers in double figures.

Despite carrying a 90-77 lead into the fourth quarter, the Raptors allowed Portland back into the game when they missed eight of their first 11 shots from the floor. Portland went on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to just three points with 6:18 left.

The Trail Blazers cut the lead to two points on a couple of occasions, but the Raptors went shot for shot to stay in front. Gerald Henderson cut the lead to 108-105 with 2:08 to play, but Patrick Patterson responded with a 3-pointer 21 seconds later to push the lead out to six.

Lillard’s 3-pointer with 20 seconds to go brought the Trail Blazers to within three, but Lowry converted 1 of 2 free throws right after. Alan Crabbe made a finger roll with 8.3 seconds remaining, but Toronto responded with two free throws from DeRozan.

Another 3-pointer from Lillard, his sixth of the night, made the last 2.2 seconds uncomfortable for the Raptors, but DeRozan was sent to the free-throw line once again, registering his only miss of the night, to close out the game.

DeRozan started at small forward instead of shooting guard for the first time this season to accommodate Nick Powell, but he didn’t let it affect his rhythm, scoring 17 points in the first quarter. Lillard responded with 12 of his own, including a 40-foot basket at the buzzer to close Toronto’s lead to 31-30 after 12 minutes.

The Trail Blazers’ scoring touch deserted them somewhat in the second quarter. They missed 12 of their first 16 shots from the floor in the quarter, while 10 points from Lowry helped the Raptors establish a 58-52 lead at the half.

TIP-INS

Trail Blazers: Lillard has now scored at least 30 points in nine of his last 11 games, and he averaged 29.8 points during the month of February. He wasn’t selected for the All-Star Game in Toronto. Raptors coach Dwane Casey put Lillard’s recent hot streak down to the All-Star snub. “He’s playing with a huge chip on his shoulder,” Casey said. “He won’t admit it, but he is.”

Raptors: Jason Thompson, who signed with Toronto on Tuesday, saw his first action as a Raptor on Friday night, playing 1:12 in the second quarter. … The Raptors are now just one win from tying the franchise record for victories against Western Conference teams (16), a mark achieved three times previously. … DeRozan became the third player in Raptors history to score 9,000 points, following Vince Carter and Chris Bosh.

UP NEXT

Trail Blazers: Visit Detroit on Sunday.

Raptors: Host Houston on Sunday.