Pop: ‘Pau Gasol is an exceptional individual and the ultimate professional’

The San Antonio Spurs today announced that they had reached a buyout agreement with Pau Gasol, and according to ESPN, Gasol is expected to sign with the Milwaukee Bucks.

Currently, Milwaukee has the best record in basketball, and with the addition of Gasol, the Bucks add more size off the bench.

Interestingly enough, Gasol could battle his brother, Marc, who was recently acquired by the Raptors, at some point in the playoffs.

Gasol, 38, originally signed with the Spurs on July 14, 2016 and appeared in a total of 168 games with San Antonio, averaging 10.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 22.4 minutes. In 27 games, Gasol is averaging 4.2 points and 4.7 rebounds.

“Pau Gasol is an exceptional individual and the ultimate professional,” said Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich. “We are grateful for his contributions on the court, in the locker room and in our community.”

The 18-year NBA veteran and two-time champion is a four-time All-NBA selection and six-time All-Star. In 1,223 career NBA games (1,150 starts), Gasol has averaged 17.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.59 blocks in 33.5 minutes.

Gasol is one of four players in NBA history to record over 20,000 points, 11,000 rebounds, 3,500 assists and 1,500 blocks in his career, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Garnett.

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76ers acquire Richardson, Preldžić, 2022 second-round pick from Raptors

Philadelphia 76ers acquired Malachi Richardson, Toronto’s 2022 second-round pick and the draft rights to Emir Preldžić in a trade with the Raptors for cash considerations, the team announced today,

Richardson has appeared in 22 NBA games for Toronto this season, in addition to 12 contests with the team’s G League affiliate, Raptors 905. Across his 12 G League games, Richardson has averaged 20.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 35.2 minutes.

In the midst of his third NBA season, Richardson was originally selected by Charlotte with the No. 22 overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft before being dealt to Sacramento. He’s appeared in 70 career NBA games (four starts) with Toronto and Sacramento, averaging 2.8 points per contest. In 41 G League games (36 starts) over three seasons with Raptors 905 and Reno, Richardson has tallied 15.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 30.1 minutes per game. A native of Trenton, New Jersey, he played one collegiate season at Syracuse before entering the draft, helping lead the Orange to the 2016 Final Four after drawing a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Preldžić was originally selected by Phoenix with the No. 57 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He has played professionally since 2003 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia and Turkey.

Ex-NBA player Brown: ‘There’s just something about Kawhi; he brought a whole new defensive mentality’

When the Toronto Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs to acquire Kawhi Leonard this summer, they knew they were getting one of the best two-way players in the NBA, and so far this season, that has been the case.

After 32 games, Leonard and the Raptors(23-9) have the best record in basketball. The two-time All-Star has brought his defensive ways north of the border, including leading the team in steals.

Over the past three seasons, Toronto won 50 or more games, including a franchise-best 59 wins last year, but the regular season has not been the problem. The playoffs have been the issue, or should I say LeBron James has been the issue. Fortunately for Toronto, LeBron is out West with the Lakers.

The Raptors seem a little different with Leonard in the mix, so says former NBA player Chucky Brown.

 “I had a debate with my friend, and he said, ‘Toronto does this every year. They do that same thing every year.’ So I was saying that this year is different,” Brown recently told the Go4it podcast with host Paul Gant. “They got Kawhi there. No disrespect to DeRozan because I love DeMar DeRozan, but DeMar DeRozan doesn’t defend like Kawhi. There’s just something about Kawhi. He brought a whole new defensive mentality. Toronto has some long, young players. Then, you have Serge Ibaka, who’s a veteran player, so I think they could be a formidable opponent defensively.”

Toronto does have a lot of athletes on this roster, and more importantly, they have a healthy Kawhi Leonard, which means they have a great shot of going to the NBA Finals. It’s still early, and Boston, Philly, and Milwaukee won’t be easy to beat come playoff time, but the Raptors look like the best team in the Eastern Conference, and one of the best teams in the NBA.

Kawhi Leonard on playing in Toronto: ‘I came here with an open mind’

The Toronto made a bunch of big moves in the offseason. They brought in a new coach in Nick Nurse and traded their leading scorer DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs to acquire two-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard.

The 27-year-old Leonard, who played in only nine games last season due to a quad injury, can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, and according to reports, he wants to play in Los Angeles.

At this point, the Raptors main goal is to try to sell Leonard on the city of Toronto, which in the past has not always been appealing to NBA stars, but Leonard seems to willing to give the city of Toronto and the Raptors a chance.

“I want to play here. As long as I have on a jersey, I want to play basketball,” Leonard said at the team’s media day on Monday. “I came here with an open mind. I want to do great things. I want to make sure that I put my all effort on the court each and every night. By winning games, this how you get star caliber players to want to come here and play.”

If the Raptors have a successful season, which is very possible with the roster they have assembled. Leonard would probably be willing to stay in Toronto. However, if the team struggles, expect Leonard to be elsewhere.

Just like the Thunder did with Paul George, Toronto is going to have to take a wait and see approach with Kawhi Leonard.

Ex-Raptor Jamario Moon: ‘I think Kawhi is going to love Toronto(VIDEO)

Over the past few seasons, the Toronto Raptors had a lot of regular season success, but in the playoffs, specifically against LeBron James and the Cavaliers, the Raptors had some serious struggles, which caused their former head coach Dwane Casey to lose his job and led to the trade of DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs for two-time All-Star Kawhi Leonard.

On paper, the Raptors look like a better team, but it’s imperative for the Raptors to have a lot of success. First, because they want to win a championship, and the other reason is they want to keep Leonard, who can opt out of his contract next summer. Leonard reportedly wants to be in Los Angeles, but as we saw with Paul George, nothing is guaranteed.

Former Raptor Jamario Moon, who started his NBA career with the Raptors, believes Leonard will fall in love with Toronto.

“For me, Toronto was the first city I played in, and I loved it,” Moon recently told Paul Gant. “Toronto is like a cold Miami, or a cold Los Angles, so I love Toronto, me personally, but everybody got different opinions about different places. But I think Kawhi will love Toronto; the fans are going to treat him like God. They treated me like one of their own, so I feel like he’s going to love it because I loved my time.”

In the end, you don’t know what is going to happen, until it happens, but Toronto can get to the NBA Finals, especially with LeBron James out of the Eastern Conference.

Listen below as Moon talks the BIG3, Raptors chances in the Eastern Conference and Kawhi Leonard:

Stephen A. Smith warns Boston about the new look Raptors(VIDEO)

After LeBron James decided to leave Cleveland to play with the Lakers, the East has become wide open. The Raptors, who were the number one seed in Eastern Conference last season, should be better after acquiring Kawhi Leonard. The Philadelphia 76ers have two cornerstone players in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Boston Celtics will get back maybe their two best players in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving.

“Oh, we’re getting to the Finals. No question about it,” Celtics’ Jaylen Brown told CJ McCollum’s “Pull Up” podcast.

Brown is confident, and the Celtics are confident, but Toronto with Leonard is going to be tough beat, so says ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

Listen below as Smith talks Raptors and Celtics:

The East will come down to Boston, Philly, and Toronto with the Celtics being the favorite, but there are no guarantees that the Celtics won’t have any chemistry issues next season. With the return of Hayward and Irving, guys who were getting a lot of minutes last year, won’t be getting those same type of minutes next season. Therefore, that is something to keep an eye on going into the 2018-19 NBA season.

Stephen A. Smith: Kawhi Leonard to Lakers is not a sure thing(VIDEO)

With Kawhi Leonard on the roster, the Toronto Raptors have put themselves in position to be one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors won a franchise-best 59 games last season, but because they failed in the playoffs, changes were made. They fired their head coach, Dwane Casey, and traded their leading scorer in DeMar DeRozan. Now, Toronto has reloaded and looking to take that next step.

At this point, Leonard can become a free agent at the end of the season, and the two-time All-Star reportedly wants to play with the Lakers. However, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Leonard to the Los Angeles is not a sure thing:

Take a listen:


In the end, anything can happen, but for now, the Raptors have a player that can take them to the next level, especially with LeBron James out of the Eastern Conference.

Ibaka on beating Cavs: ‘It’s not about LeBron, it’s about us’

The Toronto Raptors had a tremendous regular season, but after winning a franchise-best 59 games this season, they ran into LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ultimately, Toronto was swept in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second straight season by the Cavaliers. After getting ousted from the playoffs, the Raptors decided to move on from their head coach Dwane Casey.

Now, for the Raptors, they have to figure out what’s next step. First, Toronto must hire a head coach. According to reports, Toronto interviewed Spurs assistants Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka. Secondly, Toronto has to figure out whether they can win a title with a team built around DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. Finally, the Toronto has to figure out a way to get by LeBron James.

However, for Raptors F Serge Ibaka, it’s not about “King James”:

It’s not about LeBron, it’s about us,” Ibaka told TMZ Sports. “We have to learn from this playoffs and work hard this summer and get ready.”

No one knows what LeBron will do this summer, but one thing is for sure, both Boston and Philly should be better next season, so the Raptors might have a new set of issues moving forward. However, if Toronto’s young players get better, if they can find a coach that can take them to the next level, and Lowry and DeRozan stay healthy, the Raptors are definitely contenders next season in the Eastern Conference.

The future is still bright in Toronto, but they must make all the right moves this summer.

 

 

Stephen A. Smith on Casey firing: ‘I don’t think he deserved it’

The Raptors fired their head coach Dwane Casey today after seven seasons with the team. During his seven years in Toronto, Casey became the Raptors all-time winningest coach and led the Raptors to a franchise-best 59 wins this season.

“After careful consideration, I have decided this is a very difficult but necessary step the franchise must take,” Raptors president Masai Ujiri said in a statement.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith does not like the move.

Here’s what he had to say about it on First Take today:

Unfortunately for Casey, he ran into LeBron James. The Raptors were eliminated in each of the last three seasons by the Cavaliers. However, this was the first year that Toronto was probably better than Cleveland, but again, they ran into LeBron James. Casey was voted coach of the year by his fellow coaches in the league.

Good luck finding a coach as good as Casey, Toronto.

Stephen A. Smith on Raptors: ‘They’re not good enough'(WATCH)

For the Toronto Raptors, the season ended in a familiar way. Unfortunately, that familiar way is losing to LeBron and the Cavaliers. Yesterday, Toronto lost a playoff series to the Cavaliers for the third straight season, and for the second straight season, the Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Now, Toronto has a lot of questions to answer as they go into the offseason. Are the tandem of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan good enough? Is Dwane Casey the right man for the job?

Let’s start with Casey. I think Casey is the right man for the job. This team has improved under Casey. They won a franchise best 59 games this season. You’re not going to find many coaches as good as Casey. He’s not the problem.

Regarding the Lowry and DeRozan, maybe it is time to think about trading one of these guys. If LeBron stays in Cleveland, they will continue to be tough to beat. Plus, Philly and Boston are coming. Lowry and DeRozan have proven that they are very good players, but they have proven that they are not good enough to win a title.

The Raptors have close to a $100 million tied up in Lowry, DeRozan, Serge Ibaka, and Jonas Valanciunas next season, so unless they want can find a trade partner, they are pretty much stuck was their current roster.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith thinks it might be time to make some changes in Toronto. Here is what he had to say on First Take on Tuesday:

 

In the 90s, Hall of Famers Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing were great players, but they ran into Michael Jordan. Sadly, for the Raptors, they keep running into “King James.”