Raptors want to trade their way to championship - it won't be easy
The ideal trade partner is probably Phoenix. The Suns have only $ 70 Million in guaranteed salary in 2018-19, the #16 pick, and a roster with more holes than a porcupine’s underwear. Since they are in the lottery with an excellent chance at the #1 pick, they may be amenable to surrendering their second first-rounder. We would likely have to take back a bad contract (Jared Dudley’s last season at $ 9 Million?), but I could live with that.

Here’s a trade which roughly duplicates what Masai did last summer when dumping Cory Joseph because of the same salary-cap pressure he’s under now.
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9 weeks ago
Report: Sixers interested in trading for Kawhi Leonard, signing LeBron James – ProBasketballTalk
Don’t be surprised if they also try to acquire San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard in a trade. Sources have said the Sixers have expressed interest in the two-time all-star. While he is eligible for a five-year, $219-million “super-max” extension with the Spurs this summer, there are reports that Leonard wants out after staying away from the team for most of the season with a quad injury. He played in only nine games.

Leonard has a great relationship with Sixers coach Brett Brown. However, trading for him would be risky without first getting a guarantee that he’ll agree to a contract extension. Leonard is set to become a free agent on July 1, 2019.
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9 weeks ago
Detroit Pistons: The Pistons should not hire Dwane Casey.
The Raptors won a lot of regular season games under Dwane Casey. Including the first two years of his tenure when they struggled, he went 320-238 in his time in Toronto which is a really good record.

The Raptors consistently fell apart in the playoffs largely due to his flaws as a strategist.

Even in the regular season, the flaws were often obvious. The Raptors consistently ranked at the bottom of the NBA in passes per game as their offense largely was giving the ball to Lowry or DeRozan and hoping they score.

The offense was revamped at the behest of Masai Ujiri and under the tutelage of Nick Nurse, but Casey has been the first to say that he was not at the center of that change.
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9 weeks ago
Celtics news: Marcus Morris on the Raptors' destruction that LeBron James, Cavs left behind
Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris isn’t one to hold his punches. Going up against the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James, Morris recognizes the path of destruction that the Cavs superstar left behind on his way to a second-straight playoff series against the Beantown team.
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9 weeks ago
DeMar DeRozan Rumors: Mike Fisher's Source Doesn't Think Raptors Try to Trade SG | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights
If the Raptors are interested in shaking up the roster while remaining contenders, swapping DeRozan for Batum and assets or for Wiggins could make sense.

If the team is more interested in a full rebuild, the Mavericks' deal would be logical, as Dallas has the third-best lottery odds and is guaranteed a top-six pick (though Fisher reported the Mavericks wouldn't be interested in such a deal).

Under any circumstance, adding Leonard would work given his status as one of the best two-way players in the NBA when he's healthy. It's likely that a good portion of the NBA will be calling San Antonio this summer if there's any indication Leonard is on the block.

The team's firing of Dwane Casey this offseason after a 59-win season suggests other changes could be coming as well, though DeRozan isn't the only player who could be moved. The team could choose to deal star point guard Kyle Lowry, for instance, or move other expensive veterans such as Jonas Valanciunas or Serge Ibaka.
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9 weeks ago
Mike D'Antoni calls Raptors firing Dwane Casey ‘kind of laughable’ | NBA | Sporting News
D'Antoni addressed Casey’s firing when he spoke with reporters this week.


"I'm not criticizing anyone, everybody has their reasons for making decisions,” D'Antoni said. “It's just the nature of the business, but it's kind of laughable."

D'Antoni said he thinks Casey, who won the 2017-18 NBCA Coach of the Year Award, will “find another spot” in the NBA.

“I think all coaches are numb to that. You get Coach of the Year. You have the best (regular season) the franchise has ever had. You get fired. It's like really?” D'Antoni said. “He’s classy and good and he's one of the better coaches in the league.”
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9 weeks ago
LeBron’s Game-Winner Reportedly Led to ex-Raptors’ Coach Dwane Casey’s Firing | Complex
Casey declined to double-team James on what became yet another highlight for LeBron’s postseason highlight reel. That decision and a call to use O.G. Anunoby and C.J. Miles as primary defenders against James were both called into question before and after the Raptors were swept.

“Casey has little feel for how to manipulate matchups and anticipate problems,” wrote Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer in an article entitled “Tyronn Lue Is Running Circles Around Dwane Casey.” “He’s a reactive coach who comes into the series trying to stick with lineups he’s used all season, and then starts scrambling wildly when he’s forced to adjust.”

Those adjustments apparently didn’t come quickly enough, and Casey was shown the door and reportedly given an earful on the way out with one more year and $6.5 million remaining on his contract.
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9 weeks ago
Celtics playoffs: Boston has the answers for LeBron James that the Raptors didn’t have - SBNation.com
This season, Toronto’s two best players were, at best, borderline top-15 players. You can’t really argue that makes them different than Boston, though, not with their injuries. Horford might make an All-NBA team this season, but it’s not a lock. (He has been a top-10 player in these playoffs, however.)

Past those two, though, the Raptors had some flaws. As mentioned above, their centers got run off the floor way too quickly for comfort. Losing Fred VanVleet to injury (and then seeing him return while clearly not being 100 percent) was an enormous blow to the bench unit’s ultimate glue guy. They didn’t have a clear wing that stood out from the pack — OG Anunoby wasn’t always trustworthy, Delon Wright was streaky, Pascal Siakam’s lack of shooting forced him off the floor at times, and C.J. Miles didn’t give the team enough defensively.
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9 weeks ago
Metta World Peace thinks Drake should coach the Raptors
Metta World Peace knows who should replace Dwane Casey as the head coach of the Toronto Raptors.

TMZ Sports ran into World Peace in Beverly Hills, and actually broke the news to him that Casey was fired. The conversation quickly turned to the team’s global ambassador and rapper Drake, who World Peace thinks could be a good coach for the Raptors if he has the right people around him.

“If he had the right staff, he could do it,” World Peace told TMZ. “He should do it. Yeah, he should do it. I think he could do it.”
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9 weeks ago
NBA Offseason 2018: 8 Players The Raptors Should Chase And 7 To Stay Away From
Jabari Parker came into the league a few years ago with all the hype in the world behind him but like so many others, his career has unfortunately been hindered with injuries, and he hasn’t produced because of it. When he is on the court, he’s quite a decent player, but the Toronto Raptors are looking to add pieces to equip their team for a Finals run, and an inconsistent, unproven talent like Parker just doesn’t help their cause too much at the moment.

They’ve also got a pretty deep team at the moment and one of their biggest needs is a player off the bench that can score on their own. Parker just hasn’t shown that ability over his young career, and although he’s likely going to go to a team that has the time and patience to develop him, which will be good for him, he just doesn’t fit the needs of this Raptors team.

If he hadn’t suffered not one but two devastating knee injuries, he no doubt would have been on the Raptors radar, but at this point in time, Parker just doesn’t help this team succeed. They don’t have long together as a core group, so they need to succeed now, this means they should stay away from Parker.
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9 weeks ago
Four Toronto Raptors trades we'd like to see for DeMar DeRozan and more - NBA
Raptors get: Guard Nicolas Batum; Charlotte's 2019 first-round pick (top-10 protected in 2019, top-four protected in 2020 and 2021, converts to second-round picks in 2022 and 2023 if not conveyed); Utah's 2018 second-round pick

Hornets get: Guard DeMar DeRozan

Jazz get: Forward/center Frank Kaminsky

Kevin Pelton: This is the kind of trade the Raptors would make only if they believe DeRozan's game fundamentally can't translate to the postseason; they were outscored by 23.1 points per 100 possessions with him on the court in their loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, per NBA Advanced Stats. There's little question Toronto would be downgrading in the regular season -- that's the whole reason the Hornets, still hoping just to make the playoffs, would make the trade -- but Batum's playmaking from the wing would move the Raptors' starting lineup closer to the kind of pass-first style the team's young reserves play. He would also be an upgrade defensively.
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9 weeks ago
Rating the Raptors’ head coach options | The Star
The Raptors’ firing of Dwane Casey triggered immediate speculation about who might replace the most successful coach in franchise history. Here are five candidates who quickly spring to mind:
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10 weeks ago
With Casey out, Ujiri finally puts himself into the line of fire | Toronto Sun
Ujiri and Casey have butted heads at times, just as Casey and star point guard Kyle Lowry did, a callback to Casey’s old boss George Karl clashing with the great Gary Payton in their Seattle days. It’s natural for a general manager and his head coach to get into it at times. At some point, though, Ujiri decided that a new direction was needed, which was his prerogative and not necessarily the wrong call, as long as he doesn’t stop there.

All indications are he won’t. If all three of Jonas Valanciunas, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are back next fall, this corner would be surprised. The market will be tested and if somebody wants one of the team’s bad contracts with a reasonable sweetener, that will be looked at as well.
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10 weeks ago
Raptors Salary Cap Refresher: Toronto’s off-season is here - Raptors HQ
With the Raptors losing in the second round of the playoffs, preparations for next season are already beginning. Conversations are starting about whether there might be a coaching change, or which players will be heading out the door (if any), or which free agents can be brought back. It’s happening.

This might seem early, but technically, since the Raptors’ season is done, they are now free to trade with any other eliminated team, which is most of the league at this point. Pre-draft trades are rare, but not exceedingly so, as long-time Raptors fans can attest to — for example, the Reggie Evans for Jason Kapono deal happened in early June.
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10 weeks ago
Development program: What skill each Raptors player should focus on this summer – The Athletic
“Most of the guys on the bench are young and hungry, and I know that these playoffs will be in the back of our minds all summer,” Fred VanVleet said as the team cleared their lockers out Tuesday.

And hungry they should be. Coming off a two-round playoff run in which a number of young players got their first taste of the post-season – the five youths in the 10-man rotation had played a combined 65 playoff minutes before this year – the knowledge of where each player most needs to focus should be instructive.
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10 weeks ago
Koreen: Raptors get their 2018 playoff report cards – The Athletic
That is an understatement. Heading into the playoffs, the Raptors felt they were the best team in the Eastern Conference. A second-round matchup against the Cavaliers was not ideal, but at least it would provide a chance to legitimize their regular season. After the first round, when the Raptors coolly dispatched of the Wizards and the Cavaliers struggled to inch by the Pacers, confidence built.

Then, in the wake of a devastating Game 1, it disappeared.

“I know how confident how we came into the first game. Not just from us, not just from our fans, not just from the players, but even from (the media). Everybody felt good about it,” Ujiri said. “Even after that game everyone felt good about it. OK, why did we give that game away? But for me the margin of error when you play in the playoffs is this small. There those turning points and Game 1 for us was like that. We missed so many layups, we missed bunnies that could have won the game.”
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10 weeks ago
Toronto Raptors future: They don’t seem to realize they need to break up - SBNation.com
In Wednesday’s exit interviews, Casey and Ujiri fixated on the randomness of Game 1, which they both saw as a turning point. In their eyes, that loss featured two open potential game-winning threes, four tip-ins that rimmed out at the end of regulation, a blown double-digit lead, and a missed flagrant foul call on Kevin Love late in the game.

“If a flagrant foul is called and looked at, does it go a different way?” asked Ujiri, who got fined for confronting the officials in Game 3. “I don’t know. I know one thing: we’ve come to a point in this league where we deserved to go look at that play. That might not be the reason [we lost]. We missed a hundred layups. We had 400 turnovers. But all I’m saying is the margin of error is small. And that’s the playoffs.”
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10 weeks ago
The Case for Blowing Up the Raptors Core
Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri has to offer the proverbial sacrificial lamb or risk an angry mob. But in his case, it isn’t about appeasing them but saving the team.

Changes need to be made.

If another embarrassing playoff defeat at the hands of LeBron and the Cavs in which the Raptors became the first top seed in almost 50 years to get swept before the Conference Finals doesn’t demand change, then nothing will.
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10 weeks ago
‘It’s the people’s team’: Damon Stoudamire says Raptors are headed for success | The Star
Former Raptors star Damon Stoudamire leaned back on a couch in a downtown Toronto office and recalled the team’s early days when he anchored an expansion squad that would struggle for years.

The NBA team won just 21 games in its debut 1995-96 season, with Stoudamire’s rookie of the year award one of the few highlights from the team’s early era. The man nicknamed “Mighty Mouse” lasted only two-plus seasons in Toronto but always felt the franchise would eventually be successful.
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10 weeks ago
Change is coming for Raptors, only question is when it begins | Toronto Sun
Ujiri has been extremely patient since replacing his former mentor, Bryan Colangelo, and has done solid work in overseeing the finest run in Raptors history, but he’s no dummy. Nor is he satisfied. He’s not foolish enough to truly believe that the current group is good enough to take the next step, the leap Ujiri so desires his squad to make: Becoming a true contender.

The Raptors had a tremendous season, winning more regular-season games than any team besides the Houston Rockets, pacing the Eastern Conference, ranking in the top five in the NBA in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
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10 weeks ago
While speculation swirls, Dwane Casey remains Raptors’ head coach - The Globe and Mail
Ujiri said he has met with Casey, but he declined to say whether the coach, who took the Raptors to a franchise-record 59 wins this season, will keep his job. The Raps president said his evaluation of the year is continuing.

“Coach Casey has been unbelievable for our organization and I treat it the same exact way that we’ve done every year, including the years that we’ve done well – to go back and look at everything,” Ujiri said. “I met with Casey for two hours this morning, same thing. I’m meeting with him, the staff, and we go through every single thing. It’s just our routine. It’s my responsibility as a leader to do that and we’ll go from there.”
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10 weeks ago
Tough decisions to be made as Raptors begin off-season evaluation - Article - TSN
Ujiri spoke for over 25 minutes, saying an awful lot without saying much of anything at all, as usual. He’s always lamented the idea of having to sit up there with the wounds still fresh and answer questions about decisions he hasn’t made yet. If there was anything to take away from his press conference it was that: some hard decisions have to be made, changes – at least to some degree – are probably coming, and (also as usual) none of it will be rushed.

His first order of business, whenever he’s ready to get to it, will be determining the future of his head coach, Dwane Casey.

On Tuesday, TSN reported that the Raptors were strongly leaning towards making a coaching change. That remains the case, according to sources, but there are a number of moving pieces, which could delay a decision until later this month.
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10 weeks ago
Kostas Antetokounmpo among Raptors pre-draft workouts on Wednesday - Sportsnet.ca
The team will get an up-close look at a pair of guards — Giddy Potts and Joe Chealey — and two forwards — Alan Herndon and Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Potts, a gifted three-point shooter, averaged 13.3 points per game and over 40 per cent from beyond the arc for Middle Tennessee and reached double figures in all but seven games last season.

Chealey notched 18 points per game for Charleston and topped 20 points 13 times. Herndon averaged just shy of 12 points and six boards for Wyoming. Potts, Chealey, and Herndon were all seniors last season.
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10 weeks ago
This might be the off-seaon Raptors 905 boss Jerry Stackhouse lands an NBA head coaching job | The Star
Intensely competitive.

That’s the first thing you hear when it comes to Jerry Stackhouse, the former Detroit Pistons star and current coach of the Toronto Raptors’ G League team who is seen as one of the best young coaches on the market.
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10 weeks ago
Raptors’ Ujiri says, ‘Put it on me.’ | The Star
“I can’t pull the culture reset off this year, can I?” said Ujiri, grinning, as he opened his season-ending press conference.

Last season, of course, Ujiri pushed for a change in playing style, the culture reset that resulted in more youth and more passing and more three-point attempts, and it all went well until his 59-win team was crushed by a Cavaliers team that fully expected it to be a war.

Ujiri is not under pressure in terms of ownership, or job status, or even reputation. But, for the first time in Toronto, he has to deal with falling significantly short of expectations. It’s different.
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10 weeks ago
Raptors' Ujiri facing most challenging off-season yet - Sportsnet.ca
It was a clear-eyed, confident presentation that addressed the past, present and future while acknowledging that his chances to return as head coach for his eighth season are anything but assured after Toronto was pushed aside by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs for the third straight year, the second straight time in a sweep and this time as the East’s No. 1 seed.

“No, I don’t expect a vote of confidence,” said Casey, who holds the franchise record for wins, winning percentage and playoff wins and guided Toronto to a 59-win season and the NBA’s second-best record behind the Houston Rockets. “Like I said, I’m still here, nobody’s told me any different … I’ve read all the articles and texts and all this stuff, so I understand what’s being said. I’m not blind or in the dark, but I’m not looking for a vote of confidence or anything like that ’cause nobody’s said any different.”
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10 weeks ago
Raptors’ Dwane Casey ‘still here, still fighting’ | The Star
And you wouldn’t have expected him to fade meekly into the background as his job status remained in question amid the bitter disappointment of another Cleveland-induced sweep. Raptors president Masai Ujiri has told more than one NBA confidant that he was planning to fire Casey in the wake of Toronto’s second straight second-round post-season ouster. Such talk didn’t seem to surprise Casey, who has resided in Ujiri’s doghouse before.

“It’s part of the business. I take it. I’m a big boy. I've been through it,” Casey said Wednesday, at his season-ending news conference. “I'm not running from it. I know we're all in this together as far as our organization, our team, or whatever. I'm an easy target.”
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10 weeks ago
ZICARELLI: Time for dramatic change in Raptors land | Toronto Sun
Either way you look at it, the Raptors are in a very difficult spot because they need a legitimate superstar and there aren’t many, if any, on the market. The Raptors need to borrow a page from the Indiana Pacers, who traded Paul George to Oklahoma City in a package that netted Victor Oladipo.

No one will remember 50-win seasons, a No. 1 seed. And nor should they when you get swept for the second straight spring by James.
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10 weeks ago
Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has new plan to forge and less wiggle room | National Post
If that sounds like a tough spot, welcome to Masai Ujiri’s world.

The president of the Raptors is a thorough man. Knee-jerk reactions are not his style, so don’t expect an immediate answer on his next step.

Chances are Ujiri will do something similar to what he did a year ago and thoroughly investigate the Raptors failure to be even a game better than they were a year ago in the playoffs and only then forge his next plan.
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10 weeks ago
Are Raptors facing major changes after being swept by Cavs again?
The postseason, however, was the same, frustrating result: a third consecutive playoffs series loss to the Cavaliers and another sweep following last season’s sweep.

It doesn’t matter what style the Raptors play, they can’t beat Cleveland. More to the point, they can’t beat a team that has LeBron James.

They were no closer to winning the series than they were last season. Yes, two games were decided by three points, but two games were blowouts, and in those close games, the team that executed and made plays won. That wasn’t Toronto.
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10 weeks ago
The Raptors are reportedly 'leaning toward' firing Dwane Casey, but should they?
Casey has helped guide the development of all those bright young things who became the backbone of the best season in franchise history. When it looked like the Raptors’ best chance at winning came by putting the ball in the hands of his All-Star backcourt as much as possible for as long as possible, he did that. When it became evident after last year’s sweep that change was in order, he did that, too.

At Ujiri’s prompting, Casey went all-in on altering his approach and the team’s fundamental identity to emphasize increased ball and player movement, a quicker pace, more 3-point shooting. He democratized Toronto’s offensive environment, creating a world in which reserves stood shoulder-to-shoulder with stars, with everybody expected to read, react, make the right play and let many hands make light work. Lowry played fewer minutes. DeRozan passed more. Nearly everybody else did more, and did it better.
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10 weeks ago
Raptors could put the blame on Dwane | The Star
In 2015, after a humiliating sweep against Washington, Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey could have been fired. He wasn’t, and the Raptors rose higher the next season. In 2017, Casey could have been fired after a Cleveland sweep, but he was allowed to oversee the Raptors’ culture reset instead. He did a hell of a job, trusting the bench, overhauling the style. He might be the NBA’s coach of the year.

But that doesn’t mean everything is easy. Team president Masai Ujiri always prefers to be thorough, and to take all the time he needs. But league sources indicated that Ujiri was leaning toward firing Casey after Toronto’s franchise-shocking four-game sweep at the hands of the Cavaliers. At press time, there appeared to be no final decision; a decision like this would need to clear the board, and certain members have been fond of Casey.
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10 weeks ago
Reeling from a clean sweep, Raptors reach for answers on clean-out day - The Globe and Mail
The Raptors had completely changed their offence, won a franchise-record 59 games, seized the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and envisioned playing into June. Yet, the result was the same as last year: a second-round sweeping at the hands of the Cavaliers.

“Yep, it’s a wasted year for me,” Lowry said. “For me, it was championship or bust.”

This one was much tougher to swallow , the Raptors’ all-star point guard said. “It does feel a lot different because we felt we could possibly make the NBA finals,” he said. “That’s always been a real goal for us. That’s the only thing that matters.”
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10 weeks ago
As Raptors look forward, question remains: What if they had ‘It’? | Toronto Sun
raditionally, Raptors players on the cusp of fleeing south of the border for the summer, have struggled to put a finger on the perennially asked end-of-season queries: Why didn’t things work out this time? What was missing?

To their credit, for once, the Raptors provided some answers.

“Toughness. Physical toughness,” said Kyle Lowry, the team’s highest-paid and best all-around player.
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10 weeks ago
Raptors offseason outlook: Summer of change could be coming in Toronto | NBA | Sporting News
The ideal piece of trade bait may be Jonas Valanciunas, despite the fact that he’s 26 and coming off arguably his best season as a pro. Valanciunas is a relic, the kind of slow 7-foot center that many GMs instinctively feel they need, even as it’s become clear that the game has passed by such players. Valanciunas has a reasonable two years and $34 million left on his contract, but there’s virtually no market for big men these days, and shopping him likely is a waste of time.
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10 weeks ago
Change is coming after biggest letdown in Raptors history | The Star
But as the buzzer sounded on Toronto’s season Monday night — the Cavaliers putting an exclamation point on a four-game sweep with a 128-93 throttling that counted as the biggest margin of defeat by a No. 1 seed at the hands of a lower seed in an elimination game in NBA history — you could only consider its strategic choices to be abysmal failures. They tried to take away James’s teammates; they took away nothing. No fewer than five of James’s teammates averaged double figures in points for the series.
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10 weeks ago
Moving on from Dwane Casey a gamble Raptors might have to make - Sportsnet.ca
Officially it was done at shortly after 11 p.m., the final score 128-93. Four up, four down.

But it was over much before that. Maybe when the Raptors coughed up Game 1 at home?

When James was able to freelance all through Game 2? When he put a dagger in at the end of Game 3 with his impossible-for-anyone-else game winner? In Game 4 it was over at half time as the Cavs jumped out to a 16-point lead and extended it into a rout.
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10 weeks ago
Toronto Raptors' season of promise ends in disappointment in Cleveland | CTV News
For the second game in a row, Toronto coach Dwane Casey changed his starting lineup. Serge Ibaka, who gave way to Fred VanVleet in Game 3, returned to start at centre in place of Valanciunas. Miles also slotted into the starting five with VanVleet back on the bench.

While Ibaka had five early points, Cleveland had success going straight through the heart of the Toronto defence - often unimpeded. Two early fouls forced Miles to the bench before the quarter was halfway over.

Cleveland was good on 12 of its first 15 shots, mixing in some good defence to pull ahead as the first quarter wore on.
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10 weeks ago
Over-matched Raptors bow out with barely a whimper | Toronto Sun
The series was close, no one will argue that, but it was still four in a row and by anyone’s standards that’s just not good enough.

The Cavs targeted DeMar DeRozan and took him out of the series. The team’s leading scorer averaged just 18 points a night in the series and had an offensive rating lower than every other Raptor who appeared in the series. Through three games with DeRozan on the floor his offensive rating was a disturbing 95 points per 100 possessions. It only got worse in Game 4.
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10 weeks ago
Miles, Ibaka start for Raptors in Game 4 vs. Cavaliers | The Star
Casey started guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan on Monday night along with forwards C.J. Miles, rookie OG Anunoby and centre Serge Ibaka as the Raptors look to force a Game 5 at home.

Miles is making his first start of the Eastern Conference semifinal while Ibaka is back after not starting Game 3. Guard Fred VanVleet is coming off the bench as is centre Jonas Valanciunas, who started the first three games.
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10 weeks ago
Requiem for a Raptors Dream - The Ringer
Over the past three seasons, the ebbing of LeBron’s tide has consistently revealed the Raptors as we know them: self-fulfilling prophets trapped by both LeBron-induced existential dread and their own sense of fatalism. It’s as though their identity as a team was never truly theirs and was instead piloted by the public’s (and LeBron’s) complete and utter lack of conviction in them.
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10 weeks ago
Raptors melt away in Game 4 blowout loss to Cavs | The Star
And at ground level, the Raptors were unable to prove anyone wrong. It was 51-47 with three minutes left in the first half of Game 4; coach Dwane Casey inserted Bebe into the game, even after Jonas Valanciunas had a dominant little run earlier in the game. Casey wanted their best big man passer in there, despite the fact he had barely played since early April. Bebe doesn’t try to score, and can’t guard Kevin Love. At halftime Cleveland was up 16.

They melted away. The top-seeded, 59-win Raptors lost 128-93, and the season ends the same way last season did, swept and humiliated. Last year, team president Masai Ujiri declared a culture reset and the team reinvented itself. And at the end it blew a series that should have been much less punchline-friendly than this.
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10 weeks ago
LeBron dominates as Cavs shoot lights out, sweep Raptors, advance to East finals
LeBron James ripped the Toronto Raptors’ hearts out in Game 3. On Monday night, he and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers finished the job, putting the East’s No. 1 seed out of its misery and reminding anyone who’d ever dared to doubt — and in this rag-tag Cavs season, that was an awful lot of us — just who continues to control this conference.

Cleveland scored at will on Monday, shooting 65 percent from the field in the first quarter and never letting up in an offensive onslaught that left the reeling Raptors staring at the ceiling, wondering what just hit them. The Cavs hit the gas late in the second quarter and Toronto just buckled, failing to offer even token resistance after halftime as Cleveland cruised to a 128-93 win to finish a four-game sweep of the Raptors for the second consecutive season, and to do so in the most dominant fashion any James team ever has:
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10 weeks ago
LeBron James, Cavaliers sweep Raptors to reach Eastern Conference finals: Takeaways - CBSSports.com
More so than any other summer, the Raptors will have a difficult few months ahead. They overhauled their entire system and philosophy, earned the No. 1 seed for the first time in franchise history, finished the regular season with a top-five offense and defense and it just didn't matter. That's tough to deal with. 

Now, they'll have some difficult questions to ask themselves. Do they just try running things back and hoping either LeBron leaves and goes to the Western Conference, or things break their way in the playoffs? Or do they try to make some sort of drastic change, whether that's to the roster or the coaching staff? Given how little flexibility they have with the roster and cap space, and how strong the team was up until this series, it seems the wise move would be to just try again next season. But these are the type of failures that seem to bring about some sort of radical change in NBA organizations. Everyone will have a close eye on the Raptors this summer. 
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10 weeks ago
Woz Blog: Are these Raptors fatally flawed, or is it just LeBron? | Toronto Sun
One of the biggest challenges Masai Ujiri will face moving forward is figuring out exactly what he has in these Raptors.

He’s been evaluating for years and been rewarded for his unusual patience in the regular season (franchise bests after franchise bests, boffo attendance and merchandise sales, etc.), but what now?

Ujiri needs to reach an important conclusion to whether or not it’s just the great LeBron James his group can’t compete with, or would any solid opponent also be insurmountable?
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10 weeks ago
Koreen: The case for Masai Ujiri to keep the Raptors intact going forward – The Athletic
“It seems like it’s one play, but it’s a lot of things,” Kyle Lowry said on Sunday, a day before the Raptors play possibly their last game of the season in Cleveland. “It’s just just one play that wins or loses a game. It comes down to us missing four shots or five shots including overtime in Game 1. But we had plenty of mistakes in the first quarter, second quarter. (Saturday) night we had plenty of mistakes. It’s not just one play. It’s a lot of plays, an accumulation of plays throughout the whole game.”
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10 weeks ago
Raptors left wondering what could have been after Game 3 heartbreak - Sportsnet.ca
“We know what the issues are, what they were,” Casey said. “From a team standpoint, 17 turnovers broke our back, some of our schematic things that we didn’t cover properly broke our back.

“We worked on some of the things today in practice. And tomorrow, we’ll watch them and show them. Cleveland, they didn’t do anything differently as far as plays, sets, positioning. we just have to do a better job in covering them.”
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10 weeks ago
Despite their stars, the Raptors’ playoff equation keeps yielding nothing - The Globe and Mail
But the Toronto Raptors have been so disappointing for so long that Thaddeus Young of the Indiana Pacers felt the freedom to be cruel. A week ago, the Pacers – who lost their only bonafide superstar in the off-season – pushed LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to within a few minutes of defeat.

And then the Raptors tripped over the ropes on the way into the ring.

“Toronto has to win at least a couple games,” Young told HoopsHype. “We’re sitting at home and watching these games like, ’Man, we would’ve at least been in a game. We would’ve at least gotten ourselves back into the game and made it a fight.”
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10 weeks ago
SIMMONS: Is it too late for DeRozan to regain some reputation? | Toronto Sun
On Sunday morning, after the disappointment of the night before, Casey met with DeRozan. Just the two of them. There was no yelling or shouting. There was some explanation. Casey told DeRozan why he didn’t use him in the fourth quarter of Game 3 against the Cavaliers. Casey told him what he needed to do to be more efficient and more effective.

Still, it is remarkably rare for an NBA coach to sit a star for an entire quarter of a playoff game that comes down to the last shot. Not many would make that kind of call. Casey doesn’t care much for the history or attention or this kind of decision-making. He was trying to win a game. He wasn’t trying to embarrass anyone.
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10 weeks ago
DeRozan a symbol of limbo the Raptors seem trapped in - Sportsnet.ca
The Toronto Raptors went in that direction with DeRozan in Game 3 against Cleveland. But they were rewarded with one of their best quarters of the series as they came oh-so-close to completing a 17-point second-half comeback, only to be undone with by James’s running, fading, one-legged, game-winning bank shot as the clock expired.

“It was one of them games,” said DeRozan in explaining his absence.

“He had a tough night,” said Raptors head coach Dwane Casey.

But it’s not the first time DeRozan hasn’t seen the floor in the fourth quarter of important games. When the Raptors desperately needed to hold off the Boston Celtics to clinch the first seed in the Eastern Conference? DeRozan was on the bench.
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10 weeks ago
Raptors rookie Anunoby’s stock is growing in Cavs series | Toronto Sun
“There’s nobody that’s going to stop James one-on-one, but I think he’s making him work for every inch of the court, and that’s what you’ve got to do,” coach Dwane Casey said. “But his confidence level, his maturity, his composure is huge for a rookie. Because the moment is big. Again, you say: ‘What was the plan?’ But a lot of times, experienced players will read a situation and make a play, and that’s what he’s doing. There were a couple of plays last night, it wasn’t his ‘base-go’, to get him to cover the (James) drive, but he read it and made the play. So those are the plays that mature, veteran players make in those situations, that are reads. He’s doing little things like that also.”
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10 weeks ago
DeMar DeRozan of Toronto Raptors frustrated being benched, despite poor play in Game 3
"It's extremely hard, extremely hard," DeRozan said. "I just want to be out there helping my team, way more than anything. It definitely sucks to be watching ... we've got to give credit to those guys. We fought hard and gave ourselves a chance to win."

Casey did not discuss his decision to bench DeRozan after the game. The coach did hint that the decision wasn't just about DeRozan's poor shooting. He was a team-worst minus-23 on the night.
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10 weeks ago
James leaves Raptors no wiggle room heading into Game 4 | Toronto Sun
“You choose to continue to fight,” Raptors’ head coach Dwane Casey said of his message to his team. “I remember back in Seattle we were down 3-0 in the finals in ‘96, and everybody wrote us off, against Chicago. But at that time, guys just made up their minds that we’re not going to quit. We’ve got too much sweat equity, we won the regular-season conference title, guys put in the work to get where they are and we’ve got a group of young players who committed to getting better and they did.

“So again, the easy thing to do is just to write us off, and write ourselves off,” Casey said. “But you choose to be a warrior. You choose to continue to fight. And I think he have a roomful of guys who showed that in the fourth quarter Saturday night. Whatever narrative comes out of that, you know, people choose to write or talk about, let them do it. But don’t let the narrative be that you didn’t choose to continue to fight.”
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10 weeks ago
Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri fined $25,000 for walking onto court at halftime of Game 3 loss to Cleveland Cavaliers
Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri has been fined $25,000 for walking onto the playing court at halftime of Saturday's Game 3 to verbally confront game officials, NBA president of league operations Byron Spruell announced Sunday.

The incident apparently was triggered by a call that went against the Raptors toward the end of the first half in Cleveland.

A basket by Serge Ibaka was originally counted and then waved off by the referees after they consulted. The call led to DeMar DeRozan, coach Dwane Casey and his assistants screaming at the officials, and Ujiri also joined in.
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10 weeks ago
Despite long odds, Toronto Raptors will 'continue to fight' | NBA.com
At 0-3, the story essentially has been written, a struggling team’s fate decided. In the NBA, there is no wiggle room whatsoever – 129 teams in league playoff history have fallen behind 0-3 in a best-of-seven, 129 teams have lost those series. Only three such teams even rallied enough to force a Game 7: the 1951 Rochester Royals against New York, the 1994 Denver Nuggets against Utah and the 2003 Portland Trailblazers against Dallas.

And yet, nothing is official.

The plug hasn’t been pulled, flatline or not. That was evident Sunday when someone asked Toronto’s Kyle Lowry one of those big-picture, assess-this-season questions.
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10 weeks ago
How LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers flipped the script in one week
Playoff story lines change day-to-day – that’s the nature of a seven-game series – but the narrative surrounding this Cavaliers team oscillated from one extreme (they’re washed) to the other (with James, all things are possible) in a week.

"At the end of the day, you have to do whatever it takes to win, and we found a way to get another win, so, it doesn’t matter how it happens. We’ve just got to be a little better," James said. "That’s basically what I’m trying to say. We’ve got to be a lot better, especially coming into Game 4."
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10 weeks ago
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