Now that Danny Ainge has finally let go of the past, the Celtics can begin an uninhibited rebuilding process. Rajon Rondo may have been part of the present for too long in Boston, but at least now we know heís no longer the future. Read More. Written by Andrew Perna on Dec 18, 2014
The Toronto Raptors have six players on expiring contracts worth a total of $30 million with only Amir Johnson and Lou Williams being defined as core assets in that group.
Masai Ujiri is unhurried to make a move despite being at the top of the Eastern Conference with a chance to go deep in the playoffs.
“We’ve got young players,” he said. “When you take a job, you have to assess the guys you need and the guys you don’t. Some of that we did right away and some of it we waited.
“But now we’re at the stage where we let the players grow. You need to let your players grow. We will continue to look at our team, but the key is we have young players and they players will hopefully continue to get better and continue to grow.”
It has been exactly a year since the Raptors traded Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings, but Ujiri doesn't want to make another bold move at this time.
“This is the time to let it sit and play itself out,” Ujiri said. “It’s not the time to play poker, not now.”
Kyle Lowry and LaMarcus Aldridge have been named the NBA's Players of the Week for games played between Dec. 1 and Dec. 7.
Lowry led the Raptors to a 2-1 week behind an NBA-best 29.3 points. He handed out 8.7 assists, grabbed 3.0 rebounds and recorded 1.3 steals as Toronto won road games in Sacramento and Utah on back-to-back nights. On Dec. 3, when the Raptors topped the Jazz 123-104, Lowry recorded a career-high 39 points (13-of-22 field goals) and added five rebounds and four assists.
Aldridge helped the Trail Blazers to a 3-0 week, which included road wins at Denver and New York. He ranked third in the league in scoring (27.0 ppg) and sixth in rebounding (11.7 rpg). Aldridge posted a point-rebound double-double in all three contests, including a 39-point, 11-rebound effort on Dec. 2, as the Trail Blazers beat the Nuggets 105-103.
The Dallas Mavericks' brass heaped praise on Dwane Casey before the two teams squared off on Friday in Toronto.
Mark Cuban recommended that the Raptors hire Casey shortly after the 2011 NBA Finals run. Casey was an assistant coach on the Mavs' title team.
“I was very complimentary of him to them because of the attention he pays to detail, his understanding of the game, his ability to relate to players, he’s the total package,” Cuban said.
“I think he didn’t get a fair shake where he was as a head coach prior (in Minnesota). I mean, he was the difference-maker for us. We don’t win a championship without him.”
“There were a lot more established coaches that he passed on,” Rick Carlisle added.
“He really targeted Dwane as a guy that he knew could take a group of younger guys, mould them and instill a defensive philosophy and a defensive disposition in how they played. The very first year the record wasn’t great but the defensive numbers did a 180. From there they have built it up each year. Dwane has earned the right to have a team this good and he has done a great job of building it up to this point.”
The Toronto Raptors recognized Vince Carter during a first quarter timeout of Wednesday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Carter requested a trade from the Raptors in 2004 and has largely been booed in his return visits ever since.
“Amazing,” Carter said. “It’s just an amazing feeling to see it, to relive it, to see all the people react as each play was happening. It was an honest reaction. It was in the moment, the feel of the moment.”
“I think when we were all growing up we all got to witness what he was doing here in Toronto,” Quincy Pondexter said. “He was Air Canada. He was the man. A big piece of him is still in the city and he loves it. I knew there was something (special) about it from the time we got on the plane. I usually sit next to him and he was really focused on this day. It means a lot to him.”