NBA AM: Raptors Still Looking For A Big Man

Are the Raptors still looking for help in the front court?

Alan Draper profile picture
Sports Editor
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Still Looking For A Big Man:  The Toronto Raptors have found their mojo again, but that doesn’t mean they have tabled trade talks.

The Raptors are one of several teams sniffing around for a roster upgrade, specifically at the power forward spot. A few names continue to surface around league sources when talking about Toronto, the biggest being Indiana’s David West, the next is Chicago’s Taj Gibson, then Denver’s Kenneth Faried and then there is a long list of B and C tier names that Toronto might consider at the deadline if all else fails.

The Raptors are not offering much and that’s likely why there has been so little traction. There has been a long running joke among hoop heads that when Raptors president Masai Ujiri calls, you should say you are busy as you are about to get fleeced.

In this case, the Raptors truly are looking to offload ending roster parts in an attempt to upgrade the talent pool in the frontcourt.

The Raptors have five ending contracts: Amir Johnson ($7 million), Landry Fields ($6.25 million), Chuck Hayes ($5.95 million), Lou Williams ($5.45 million) and Tyler Hansbrough ($3.32 million).

It’s unlikely the Raptors look at anything involving Williams, but it seems that any combination of the others would get traction from Toronto’s side. The Raptors do own almost all of their future picks both in the first round and the second round, with their 2015 second going to Atlanta as the only traded pick at this point. The Raptors do have a couple of pick swap options, but for the most part they have draft picks to play with if so inclined.

There was a long running rumor that Raptors swing man Terrence Ross could be the chip that gets a deal done, however league sources continue to say Toronto won’t engage on anything involving Ross.

With the deadline getting closer, teams may start to get serious about deals and it looks like the Raptors are ready to catch a power forward if one shakes loose over the next two weeks.

Will The Knicks Keep Amar’e?:  The New York Knicks swung hard at the free agent class of 2010. They took on mountains of bad ending contract money to be in a position to land two of the big fish from 2010, a free agent class that included Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Carlos Boozer and Amar’e Stoudemire.

The Knicks pulled off a sign-and-trade to land Stoudemire, and held out hope with a top flight free agent in the fold they could land James too. James chose Miami, and the Knicks were left with Stoudemire.

Fresh off signing a five-year, $99.7 million contract, Stoudemire became the face of the Knicks franchise and carrying the weight of a team with crushing expectations.

As good as Stoudemire seemed on the surface, he wasn’t James or Wade, but he tried his very best that first year logging 78 gamesn 25.3 points per contest and 8.2 rebounds. It was the second best statistical season of his career. The Knicks won 42 games that first year and made the playoffs after a mid-season trade for star forward Carmelo Anthony.

The Knicks were supposed to be set. They had bookend stars that played at a high level and all was supposed to be right in the world.

The Knicks would go on to post two more postseason appearances before Stoudemire’s body started to give out.

Over the last four seasons Stoudemire’s has logged 173 games out of a possible 279 (62 percent). In that same span the Knicks have won 137 games (49.1 percent) in four years.

Midway through his final contract year with the Knicks, a deal that will pay him $23.4 million, the player once viewed as the franchise face man, is now the player most want to see traded or cut.

The Knicks have tried to move Stoudemire a few times over the last year, most notably this summer in an attempt to free up cap space for free agency, but found zero interest, even when the Knicks tried to pack in favorable inducements, like rookie scale players and future draft picks.

With the 2015 NBA Trade Deadline just 14 days away, the Knicks have been active in trying to find deals to clean up their cap and would again be open to move Stoudemire, but it seems more likely than not that they will be stuck with.

The question then becomes do the Knicks try and convince Stoudemire to accept a buyout or just out right cut him to open up roster spots.

Word is Stoudemire would like finish what he started with the Knicks and stay for the season. There are a few selfish reasons behind that, the biggest being he’d retain his Bird rights for contract negotiations next season.

It’s unlikely that anyone in free agency is going to offer Stoudemire a ton of cash, but having Bird rights keeps options open and that’s most desirable to Stoudemire.

While the Knicks will want to free up Stoudemire’s cap cash by renouncing his rights, there is a 10-day window in July in which Stoudemire’s agents could find him a deal and get him a sign-and-trade deal before the Knicks have to remove him from the books for their own free agency.

The narrative that Stoudemire would welcome a buyout in order to join a playoff team isn’t exactly true. He’d rather not uproot his family while retaining his Bird rights, which means Stoudemire would not do what some players do and leave a little cash on the table in exchange for a clean exit.

The Knicks can still cut him, but as they are approaching the free agent marketplace is that really the story that you want out there – that you tossed out the guy who said ‘yes’, when everyone else said ‘no’?

The end is near for New York and Stoudemire, the question is will he go out on his terms or theirs?

Dwight’s Knee:  Houston Rocket’s big man Dwight Howard underwent a slightly different knee procedure yesterday called Bone Marrow Cell Concentrate (BMCC). If you have followed sports and basketball long enough you have likely heard of things like Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) or Orthokine. Both procedures require removing a player’s own blood and synthesizing it into its basic parts and re-injecting it into the player where they may have developed problems. PRP and Orthokine are very similar, with blood platelets being injected into problematic knees or joints to help speed up the healing process.

The results on both have been mixed. Some players like Laker guard Kobe Bryant and free agent big man Jermaine O’Neal swear by the results of Orthokine, and others have said the procedure didn’t help them. PRP gets a similar reaction from players who have had it.

BMCC, the procedure Howard underwent yesterday, is a little different in that instead of just extracting and treating a player with his own blood, the treatment involves extracting bone marrow from the player’s hip. That marrow is then synthesized to extract stem cells, and those stem cells are injected into the problematic area to help not only heal, but potentially help regenerate damaged or degrading conditions.

Howard has had issues with his knee since entering the NBA, but the issues never got to the point where he needed to miss a bunch of games. Postgame Howard would routinely be seen thoroughly icing his problematic knee to manage the swelling.

This latest injury was more about overall soreness in his knee that doctors described as bone related pain from the fluid that was building up in his knee.

The decision to undergo BMCC was more preventative in its approach. Not only were they trying to clear up the swelling and fluid buildup, but also try and get in front of some issues that could become more severe in time.

The recovery time on BMCC is fairly short, however the process usually requires about four weeks for results to appear on a MRI. Howard is expected to start light rehab work in a couple of weeks, and then be re-evaluated throughout the recovery.

There is a chance that Howard might require knee surgery at some point, but the initial hope is that the BMCC treatment would clear up the issue, at least enough for Howard to get through the season and explore his options during the summer.

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Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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