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#pounditThursday, September 29, 2022

Articles tagged: Toronto Raptors

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being eyed by 1 prominent East team?

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander looking in

Nov 4, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has played for the last three years in Oklahoma City, but a more fitting destination may be awaiting him.

Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports reported this week that the Toronto Raptors are closely monitoring Gilgeous-Alexander’s situation with the Thunder in case the 24-year-old eventually tires of leading a rebuild.

Gilgeous-Alexander, a lottery pick back in 2018, has become the face of the Thunder franchise at the moment. He is coming off a career year in 2021-22 where he averaged 24.5 points and 5.9 assists per game. He also begins a new five-year, $179.3 million deal this season (which runs through 2027).

For what it’s worth, Gilgeous-Alexander said in a recent interview that he remains committed to Oklahoma City.

But the Thunder are facing the potential of another lost season, especially after No. 2 draft pick Chet Holmgren was lost for the year with a foot injury. Gilgeous-Alexander is also a Toronto native and plays for Canada’s national team. Thus, the Raptors can make a very strong case to Gilgeous-Alexander (though they are not the only East team reportedly eyeing him right now).

Raptors bringing in former high lottery pick?

Nick Nurse in a suit

Mar 8, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse gives instructions during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors are known for finding uncut gems of talent, and now they could be taking a swing at another one.

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes spoke during a Twitch stream this week and seemed to hint at the team signing ex-No. 6 overall draft pick Jarrett Culver. Barnes noted that Culver was wearing Raptors gear while playing in a recent private run organized by new Toronto assistant Rico Hines.

Culver, 23, was an All-American and the Big 12 Player of the Year in college at Texas Tech. He began his NBA career with Minnesota in 2019 but never got consistent minutes after his rookie year. Culver was sent to Memphis last offseason in the Patrick Beverley trade and made 37 total spot-minute appearances off the bench for the Grizzlies last year, averaging 3.5 points per game. He still remains a free agent, at least officially.

With Svi Mykhailiuk as the only true 2 guard option behind starter Gary Trent Jr, Culver could be an impactful addition for Toronto. But Raptors fans are probably holding their breath for the team to make a bigger move.

Report: 3 teams considered most likely Kevin Durant suitors

Kevin Durant with a hood on

May 8, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) warms up before game against the Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant still wants the Brooklyn Nets to trade him, and there are at least three teams that remain interested in acquiring the 12-time All-Star.

Durant met with Nets team owner Joe Tsai in London over the weekend and essentially gave him an ultimatum, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports. The choice that he gave Tsai is to either keep Durant and get rid of GM Sean Marks and coach Steve Nash, or fulfill the trade request.

One of the primary reasons Durant has not been traded is the asking price. The Nets are said to have engaged with almost every team in the NBA, but no one is willing to meet their lofty demands. However, Charania notes that three teams are viewed as the “most significant candidates” to land Durant. Those teams are the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat.

The Celtics reportedly offered Brooklyn a package centered around Jaylen Brown. The Nets turned it down and asked for Brown, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and multiple draft picks. The belief is that the Nets are interested in what the Celtics could potentially offer. That may not be true for one of the other teams that is pursuing Durant.

The Nets added Royce O’Neale and TJ Warren this offseason. They also had Kyrie Irving opt into his contract and have yet to see how Ben Simmons will fit alongside Durant and Irving. Their preference would almost certainly be to keep Durant, so they may choose him over Nash and Marks.

Raptors player throws shade at Joel Embiid while playing video game

Joel Embiid with a straight face

Apr 16, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) before game one of the first round for the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Toronto Raptors at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

One Toronto Raptors player definitely has not forgotten about how Joel Embiid ended his team’s season a few months ago.

Raptors forward Scottie Barnes was streaming himself on Twitch playing the “NBA 2K” video game this week. Barnes opened up a pack of virtual cards in MyTeam mode and pulled the Philadelphia 76ers star Embiid.

“Ah s–t,” said Barnes in reaction. “[I’m] selling his a– immediately.”

Take a look at the funny video (but beware of the bad language).

For context, player cards can be used in the game or sold for points instead.

Barnes is obviously choosing the latter after Embiid and the 76ers defeated Toronto in the first round of the playoffs last April. It was a contentious series where Barnes even suffered an injury because of Embiid.

When it comes to his Twitch streams though, Barnes is quickly becoming a must-watch content creator. Earlier this summer, Barnes blasted another basketball figure while also playing a video game.

Report: Raptors reluctant to include 1 player in possible trades

Nick Nurse in a suit

Mar 8, 2020; Sacramento, California, USA; Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse gives instructions during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors are heavily in the mix when it comes to trade talks for Kevin Durant. But there is one player they reportedly are reluctant to include in a possible trade.

HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto reported on Tuesday that Toronto is hesitant to include Scottie Barnes in any possible trade. Barnes was the No. 4 overall pick by Toronto last year and won NBA Rookie of the Year.

Toronto, which is led by stellar executive Masai Ujiri, has done a tremendous job identifying and developing talent. In addition to Barnes, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet are all homegrown players.

The Raptors’ array of young talent makes them a viable candidate to acquire someone like Durant. But they definitely will not part with Barnes easily.

Barnes is under contract with the Raptors for three more seasons on his rookie deal. He averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game as a rookie.

Report: Raptors have made 1 player off limits in trade talks

Masai Ujiri at a press conference

Sep 25, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri during a press conference at media day at the BioSteel Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors are seemingly looking to make a big trade this offseason, but there is at least one player they are not willing to part with in any potential blockbuster deal.

Both Kevin Durant and Deandre Ayton have been mentioned as possible trade targets for the Raptors. According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, Toronto is not willing to give up Scottie Barnes for either player.

The Raptors may have to make a difficult decision if they want to go after Durant. Fischer was told by sources that the Brooklyn Nets are not operating with any urgency to trade Durant. If Toronto tries to land Durant and is unable to do so, there would be a risk of Ayton landing with another team in the meantime.

Barnes is the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year. The 20-year-old averaged 15.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in his first NBA season. You can understand why the Raptors want to keep him, but their reported unwillingness to include him in any trade could merely be posturing.

Durant had high praise for Barnes in a recent viral video that got Raptors fans excited about the prospect of their team landing K.D. If Durant does wind up in Toronto, he would probably prefer if Barnes is there to play alongside him.

Kevin Durant video has Raptors fans all excited

Kevin Durant dribbles

Oct 11, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in action against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors are one of several teams that have been mentioned as a possible Kevin Durant suitor, and a video that went viral has fans in Toronto awfully excited.

A mashup video that has been making the rounds on social media features Durant saying all kinds of nice things about the Raptors and the city of Toronto. Durant is shown heaping praise on Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, who is expected to sign an extension with the team this offseason. K.D.’s flattering comments about Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes were also included, though Barnes would likely be included in any potential deal if the Brooklyn Nets traded Durant to Toronto.

“I have some great memories in Toronto. I love playing in Toronto,” Durant said. “The fans have been amazing to me.”

If nothing else, the video seems to debunk one NBA analyst’s theory that Durant would not be comfortable playing in Toronto.

Durant is not a free agent. He is under contract for four more seasons, so the Nets are under no obligation to send him to the team of his choice. They are going to look for the best offer possible.

It is worth noting that Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri has experience with blockbuster trades. His decision to give up a massive package for Kawhi Leonard resulted in a championship.

Durant may have one team at the top of his wish list, but the Nets are in a good position to do what is best for them.

Ex-Raptors player responds to Chris Broussard calling Toronto racist

Chris Broussard delivers a take

Chris Broussard has faced a ton of backlash for the comments he made about the city of Toronto on Monday, and one former Raptors player took to social media to defend the franchise’s fans.

Broussard spoke on FOX Sports 1’s “First Things First” about the possibility of Kevin Durant being traded to the Raptors. He said he does not think Durant would want to play in Toronto because there is too much racism in the city. Broussard mentioned how the Raptors have struggled to retain star players and said playing in Toronto is “a different situation than African Americans are used to being in.”

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who played for the Raptors during the 2019-20 season, strongly disagrees. He tweeted on Tuesday that he felt nothing but love from the people of Toronto while he was there.

The Raptors have certainly had trouble signing and keeping star players. We saw that most recently when Kawhi Leonard left after leading the team to a championship. That likely has more to do with the market than anything else.

Broussard is used to getting roasted for his basketball takes and beyond. We highly doubt many players are going to have his back with his latest.

Otto Porter Jr. leaves Warriors for Eastern Conference team

Otto Porter Jr. yelling

Jan 23, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Otto Porter Jr. (32) reacts after blocking a shot against the Utah Jazz in the fourth quarter at the Chase Center. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors have lost some key role players from their championship squad, and Otto Porter Jr. is the latest one to go.

On Friday, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported that Porter Jr. had agreed to a two-year deal with the Toronto Raptors. What made the decision to sign with the Raptors even more enticing for Porter Jr., according to Haynes, is that Porter Jr.’s wife is from Toronto.

Porter Jr. has been a bit of a journeyman during his 13-year NBA career. He has played for the Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls, Orlando Magic and the Golden State Warriors. But he played well during his first and only season with Golden State, averaging 8.2 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 46.4 percent from the field. In 19 postseason games this year, Porter Jr. shot 49.4 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from three-point range.

The 29-year-old was the third overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and is one of a few Warriors players from their recent championship run who have left this offseason. Gary Payton II signed a three-year contract with the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, while Juan Toscano-Anderson signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Warriors did sign guard Donte DeVincenzo to a two-year contract Friday. They also re-signed big man Kevon Looney on a three-year deal.

The Raptors may not be done adding to their roster either, as they could be a dark horse to acquire one superstar via trade.

Dark horse team emerging for Kevin Durant?

Kevin Durant dribbles

Oct 11, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) in action against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It is always the quiet ones that you have to watch out for … something that may also be true of the Kevin Durant trade sweepstakes this summer.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Friday on “NBA Today” that the Toronto Raptors are a team that may be lurking for the Brooklyn Nets star Durant. Wojnarowski notes that Toronto has both the young pieces and the draft capital necessary to make a run at the former NBA MVP.

After going 48-34 but losing in the first round this year, the Raptors have had a fairly muted offseason so far. They signed veteran forward Thaddeus Young and re-signed big man Chris Boucher but have not done much else.

Brooklyn reportedly wants a historic haul for Durant, and Toronto may be in a position to meet that. The Raptors have multiple All-Stars on their roster, namely, Pascal Siakam (28) and Fred VanVleet (28). They also have several coveted youngsters such as OG Anunoby (24), Gary Trent Jr. (23), Precious Achiuwa (22), rookie Christian Koloko (22), and Scottie Barnes (20).

There are some notable frontrunners right now in the race for Durant, including a couple of major contenders. But Toronto already pulled a shocker in trading for Kawhi Leonard in 2018, and now they could be priming themselves for an even bigger tsunami move.