Among the teams that could make a move for Marc Gasol are Toronto, Cleveland, Boston, and Portland. The Celtics and Cavaliers are seen as the class of the East, with Toronto a notch below. That could set up a potential bidding war that Memphis could use to its advantage in landing the best package for Gasol, 32, a former defensive player of the year. Industry sources tell me that the Raptors are open to moving center Jonas Valanciunas and have young players the Griz might be interested in pursuing, including Jakob Poeltl and Lucas Nogueira. Gasol would be a marked upgrade for a “now” team that needs to get to a finals with core stars DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry.
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Maintaining that self-belief has been crucial, especially over the last 12 months. Like the rest of us, he’s seen his name pop up in trade rumours. He’s heard people speculate about his position becoming obsolete in the ever-evolving NBA. Has it motivated him? “That is not motivating me at all,” he insisted. “I know what is motivating me – my family, I’ve got my teammates motivating me, the front office who are [telling me] what they want to do motivates me. I understand people got to talk, people are meant to talk, it’s never going to be different these days with social media and all that stuff, I see some [expletive] things but I just don’t give a [expletive]. I know what I’ve got to do, I know what my role is on this team and the team is the most important thing.”
Toronto called dangling Jonas Valanciunas before the deadline, and Sacramento and Phoenix also expressed strong interest in Drummond in June, per sources. There’s enough grease to ultimately move the wheels and find Drummond a new home before the season starts, and he’s almost certainly not finishing out the final four years of his five-year, max contract in Detroit.
It’s no secret that the Raptors have been shopping the 7-footer for the better part of the last six months. It’s been widely reported and Ujiri made little attempt to hide it on Tuesday. “Every player, from all the processes that we went through this summer, every player’s name was in trade talks,” Ujiri insisted. “That’s me being black and white. The players know, the agents know.” “I’ll be transparent,” he continued later, “there were some scenarios where if we’re trying to create [salary cap] space and do some other things in some of the other scenarios we had that maybe we made a move [with Valanciunas]. But with this team now we’re very comfortable.”
They spoke with several teams and a couple of them were willing to simply absorb the salary, according to sources, but the Raptors were reluctant to give Valanciunas away without recouping any value. They had drafted him fifth overall in 2011 and have spent five years’ worth of time and resources developing him. Most importantly, while his market value has crashed, he still has value to them, even in a situational role. He’s a nice luxury to have, assuming you can afford that luxury.
Jonas Valanciunas is still very much a part of the Raptors’ future plans, according to team president Masai Ujiri. Sporting News NBA insider Sean Deveney reported Monday that Toronto has been trying unsuccessfully since the trade deadline to find a taker for the 7-foot center, who’d fallen out of favor in the offseason remake of the team’s rotation players. Ujiri responded with a vote of confidence in the big man.
“We’re very comfortable with JV. We’re not trying to give JV away,” Ujiri told reporters during a press conference Tuesday to introduce newly acquired veteran C.J. Miles. “I’ll be transparent, there were some scenarios where if we’re trying to create space and do some other things in some of the other scenarios we had that maybe we make a move, but with this team now we’re very comfortable.”
Toronto held conversations with Detroit and New Orleans at the deadline and again during the draft, sources told SN. Sacramento, Phoenix, Charlotte, Portland and Atlanta also kicked the tires, but talks never materialized.
Toronto has sought to deal Valanciunas since the February trade deadline. They’d had conversations with Detroit and New Orleans then, sources said, and continued to have discussions around Valanciunas at the draft, but talks with the likes of Sacramento, Phoenix, Charlotte, Portland and Atlanta did not get very far.
Valanciunas could wind up being eclipsed in Toronto, even without a deal. One of the aims of the offseason for the Raptors was to both unload some salary and clear up playing time for some younger, hungrier players the Raptors have been developing. Among those are second-year men Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam, and both had very good showings this summer.
Michael Grange: A couple of league sources have told me that Raps are looking into moving Jonas Valanciunas and the No.23 pick.
Trading Jonas Valanciunas loomed as the alternate cost-cutting measure, but no one needs a center. The most likely Valanciunas deals would return someone else’s unwanted big fella.
Kevin Arnovitz: Valanciunas was in some trade talks.
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January 16, 2018 | 9:59 pm EST Update
After the Mavericks’ shootaround at Pepsi Center on Tuesday, Dennis Smith Jr. clearly laid out his thoughts on the Verizon Slam Dunk event that will be on Saturday night, Feb. 17, in Los Angeles. “That’s something I’d like to do,” the 20-year-old said. “If I’m given the opportunity, I’m definitely willing to do it. That’s the event that I watched a lot growing up, and it’s probably the most exciting event of the All-Star weekend, except the actual game.”
If the league sticks with four dunkers, that means that a lot of quality rim-benders will be left out. “I don’t know when it happens,” Smith said, adding that he has not heard anything yet about the possibility of being in the event. “But it feels like I should be given the opportunity. It’s not my decision, though.”
Allan Horton: Bjelica postgame on his altercation with Afflalo… “I was just trying to protect myself & thank god I reacted that way [moving back to avoid the punch]. He was wild, I don’t know what’s wrong with that guy but I was just trying to protect myself.”
LeBron James reclaimed his kingdom in China from Stephen Curry — arguably the most popular current NBA star in China — in terms of jersey sales, according to the latest NBA China jersey and merchandise sales for the 2017-18 season.
Kobe Bryant, who retired at the end of the 2015-16 season, finally dropped from the top ranks of jersey sales in China. Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers were No. 1 on jersey and team merchandise lists at the beginning of 2017 and fell only to No. 2 by the end of last season.
January 16, 2018 | 9:14 pm EST Update
The reigning slam dunk champion won’t be back in time to defend his crown but would like to see Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell participate in Los Angeles just like the rest of the world. “Definitely. Just based off the highlights that I’ve seen and just watching his game. I like his game,” Glenn Robinson III said. “I know a lot of people do and a lot of fans is excited and that’s the most important part. So I think that he definitely is going to be on that list to be in it.”