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#pounditSaturday, November 27, 2021

Articles tagged: Toronto Raptors

Report: Pascal Siakam seeking max contract extension from Raptors

Pascal Siakam

Pascal Siakam had a breakout season with the Toronto Raptors last year en route to an NBA title, and the big man wants to be compensated accordingly.

Siakam has had contract discussions with the Raptors this offseason and is seeking a max extension, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. Siakam is eligible to sign either a four-year, $130 million max deal or a five-year, $170 million contract, and 2016 draftmates Ben Simmons and Jamal Murray have received five-year extensions from their respective teams this offseason.

Siakam is set to become a restricted free agent next summer, so the Raptors don’t really have to sign him to a max deal now. They will have the ability to match any offer he receives in free agency next year if they chose to wait that long. They also may not want to extend Siakam now so they can enter next offseason with more than $80 million in salary cap space and have more flexibility.

Sources told Charania that Siakam wants to remain in Toronto. The former No. 27 overall pick obliterated his career highs last season with averages of 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, and there’s no reason to think he can’t improve upon those numbers now that he may need to play an even bigger role this upcoming season.

The Raptors have rebuffed trade offers for their other key veterans since Leonard left, so president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri is clearly not interested in a total rebuild after his team’s championship season. If the Raptors want to continue to contend in the Eastern Conference for the next several years, keeping Siakam should be a priority.

Watch: Raptors get zero love in latest NBA 2K trailer

The Toronto Raptors have been, unfortunately, one of the losers of arguably the most wild offseason in NBA history, and the creators of the latest installment of the NBA 2K video game series seem to think the defending champions aren’t even worth mentioning.

Unless, of course, they’re being tooled on by the player who broke their hearts in free agency.

The latest trailer for NBA 2K20 was released on Thursday, and the overall theme was showing superstar players with their new teams. The only time the Raptors were featured was when Kawhi Leonard was depicted scoring on them, which you can see below at the 20-second mark:

A lot of people are saying the trailer showed Kawhi dunking on the Raptors, but if you watch closely he’s actually going up for a layup. Still, that has to sting for fans in Toronto.

Even if the Raptors stand little chance of repeating as champs with Leonard gone, you could argue that they deserve better treatment than that from NBA 2K. They probably should have at least had Leonard scoring on the team whose offseason he sabotaged, not the one he carried to a title.

Raptors reportedly not planning to trade any key players with Kawhi Leonard gone

Masai Ujiri Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were dealt a major blow last week when Kawhi Leonard decided to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers, but that does not mean they are giving up on contending in the Eastern Conference next season.

Several of Toronto’s key players — Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka — are set to become free agents a year from now, which has led to speculation that the Raptors might explore trade possibilities for one or more of them. TSN’s Josh Lewenberg reports that Masai Ujiri has no plans to hold a fire sale and would prefer to see things through.

Leonard may be gone, but the East is wide open. While the Raptors would have been the clear favorite if Leonard returned, the NBA Finals MVP went to a Western Conference team. Kyrie Irving also left the Boston Celtics to sign with the Brooklyn Nets, who will be without Kevin Durant for the entire 2019-20 season. The Philadelphia 76ers added Al Horford, but they lost Jimmy Butler. The Milwaukee Bucks lost Malcolm Brogdon to the Indiana Pacers. There are a handful of teams that could win the East, and the Raptors are still one of them.

Ujiri knew all offseason that Leonard leaving was a strong possibility, but that didn’t stop him from making some big promises for the future. There’s no need for a total rebuild, especially with how things stand elsewhere in the East.

Raptors’ Masai Ujiri issues statement on Kawhi Leonard departure

Masai Ujiri Raptors

The Toronto Raptors have issued their first public statement since learning Kawhi Leonard was leaving the organization.

Team president Masai Ujiri thanked both Leonard and Danny Green for their contributions to the Raptors’ title run, wishing them the best for the future while affirming the organization’s intent to continue winning championships.

It’s a fairly by-the-book statement, but a nice gesture all the same. Leonard’s legacy especially is quite secure after winning Finals MVP, and he’ll be long remembered in Toronto for his contributions, even if his tenure there only lasted one season. His year was so memorable, in fact, that it’s unlikely that any Raptor will wear his No. 2 again.

Raptors reportedly likely to retire Kawhi Leonard’s number

Kawhi Leonard

The Toronto Raptors only had Kawhi Leonard for a year, but the impact he made on the organization is immeasurable — and it sounds like it will be duly recognized.

Greg Brady of Sportsnet 590 believes the Raptors already intend to unofficially retire Leonard’s No. 2 by taking it out of circulation after the star forward delivered the team an NBA title in his lone year there.

This is pretty much the exact same arrangement the Golden State Warriors are giving Kevin Durant. It may seem excessive to retire a player’s number after a one year tenure, but the Raptors do not win a title without Leonard. It’s understandable.

Report: Thunder GM played Clippers, Raptors against each other

The Oklahoma City Thunder received an unprecedented haul from the Los Angeles Clippers in the Paul George trade, and that is because general manager Sam Presti played an unfortunate situation to perfection.

According to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Presti managed to play the Clippers and Toronto Raptors against each other once George asked to be traded, which was earlier in the week. Both the Clippers and Raptors knew acquiring George would likely be the move that would allow them to sign Leonard, and Presti used that to his advantage.

Wojnarowski reports that Presti pursued a blockbuster deal that would have sent both George and Russell Westbrook to Toronto with Pascal Siakam as the centerpiece of the return package. Raptors president Masai Ujiri was not interested, feeling that any factors that might lead Leonard to want to sign with the Clippers — such as Kawhi’s Southern California roots — were out of his control. While Ujiri may have never really considered making the deal, the negotiations undoubtedly put more pressure on the Clippers.

In the end, Presti was able to secure four unprotected first-round picks and one protected first-round pick in addition to swapping some picks with the Clippers. Oklahoma City also got Danilo Gallinari and 2018 first-round pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Between the Raptors still fighting to keep Leonard and the Lakers appearing on the verge of assembling a dynasty, Presti was essentially able to name his asking price.

Leonard probably was not going to sign with the Lakers anyway, but Magic Johnson may have sealed their fate with his big mouth. Still, their presence in the sweepstakes combined with George being a key factor allowed Presti to get as much as the Thunder could have hoped for in the deal.

Report: Raptors rumors not coming from Kawhi Leonard’s camp

Rumors about Kawhi Leonard’s NBA future hit fever pitch Wednesday, but it’s not clear where it’s all coming from.

ESPN’s Jalen Rose said on the air Wednesday that he had heard that Leonard is 99% likely to stay with the Toronto Raptors. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, another player who will likely be impacted by Leonard’s decision heard the same — but that chatter is not coming from the Leonard camp.

How would other players be affected by Leonard’s decision? The Lakers, Clippers and Raptors are all keeping enough salary cap space open to sign Leonard in case he chooses them. If he doesn’t, two of those teams will have money to spend and will have to sign other players. So some players are waiting on Leonard’s decision to know which team they will end up with.

While one source says it’s Toronto, another says Leonard remains completely undecided. There’s a lot going on, but whatever the case, it doesn’t seem that Leonard is the one showing his cards.

Report: Lakers not ahead of Clippers, Raptors in Kawhi Leonard chase

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard appears to have narrowed his decision down to three teams, but one report says rumblings that the Los Angeles Lakers are the frontrunner are inaccurate.

Cris Carter of FOX Sports 1, who has claimed to have sources connected to Leonard dating back to before the San Antonio Spurs traded the three-time All-Star, reported on Tuesday that Leonard has not yet made a decision. He also said it is wrong to think the Lakers have the edge over the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Clippers.

Leonard’s announcement is not expected to come until later in the week, so it wouldn’t make much sense for him to wait if he had already made up his mind. There were several reports that he wanted to play for the Lakers before they signed LeBron James last summer, and perhaps he is weighing that desire against the idea of being teammates with LeBron.

If the questions Leonard asked Magic Johnson are any indication, the Lakers are certainly in the hunt. However, signing with the Clippers would give Leonard an opportunity to be the clear-cut No. 1 while still playing in LA. And the Raptors, of course, are already his team and would be the favorites in the Eastern Conference if Leonard re-signed. You can understand why the decision is a difficult one.

Lou Williams explains why it’s hard for Raptors to keep players

Lou Williams

NBA veteran Lou Williams shared some interesting insight about why it’s difficult for the Toronto Raptors to keep players.

The Raptors just won their first championship in franchise history and are trying to convince Kawhi Leonard to remain with them rather than sign elsewhere. Williams, a three-time NBA Sixth Man of the Year winner, played for the Raptors in the 2014-2015 season. During an appearance on “The No Chill Podcast” with Gilbert Arenas and Mike Botticello, Williams provided some excellent insight about American players in Toronto.

“Once you’re there, you’ll love playing for the Raptors, you’ll love playing for the country. But that fourth, fifth month into the season, you’re like ‘goddamn, I want to go home,'” Williams said.

“Because when you play in Toronto, you feel like you’re playing overseas. We can’t wait to go on the road sometimes, just to be in America. It’s like little s— you don’t think of. Channels on your TV, phone bill, you got to get a Canadian bank account. S— like that that people don’t think about. That s— is hard. And if you have kids, you’re raising your kids in Canada.

“One you’re there, you’re like ‘oh, this is dope.’ But the hard part is keeping guys.”

Williams played just the one season for the Raptors, winning his first Sixth Man of the Year award that season. They didn’t offer him a contract to return, and he signed a 3-year, $21 million deal with the Lakers instead.

As for Leonard, he’s believed to be deciding between the Raptors and Clippers, though the Lakers reportedly think they have a chance too.

Below is a clip of Williams’ comments, but beware of the curse words.

Report: Kawhi Leonard seriously considering staying with Raptors

Kawhi Leonard is set to officially decline his player option to become a free agent, and the Toronto Raptors may have done enough to convince him to stay.

According to Chris B. Haynes of Yahoo Sports, Leonard will officially decline his player option, as expected. However, sources told Haynes that Leonard is “seriously considering” re-signing with Toronto despite widespread interest from elsewhere.

The Raptors have one major advantage, as they are the only team that can offer Leonard a five year, $190 million supermax contract. He also had a year to get familiar with the city and won an NBA title as the team’s unquestioned leader, adding another Finals MVP trophy to his cabinet.

The belief has been that Leonard would like to return to his native California, likely with the Los Angeles Clippers. However, they may not be the favorite after all after his wildly successful year in Canada.