Tue Jun 18 3:10am ET
By IAN HARRISON
TORONTO (AP) Fresh off leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA title, Kawhi Leonard received the key to the city at Monday's championship parade.
For now, however, the two-way star and two-time NBA Finals MVP still isn't saying whether he'll use it to keep a door open, or close it behind him and move on.
Leonard spent several days partying with his teammates in Las Vegas and Los Angeles after last Thursday's Game 6 clincher, returning to Toronto in time to ride in one of five open-top double decker buses that carried the Raptors along a crowded parade route.
A three-time All-Star and two-time NBA defensive player of the year, Leonard is expected to decline the player option on the final year of his contract and become a free agent. Toronto can offer him a five-year deal worth around $190 million, one year and some $50 million more than any other team.
Before stepping on stage Monday for a ceremony in the square outside Toronto's City Hall, Leonard said he hasn't been thinking about his future. Instead, he's trying to extend the celebratory vibe as long as possible.
''I'm enjoying this'' he said. ''It's not time to stress, it's still time to have some fun. I've just been enjoying my experience.''
After precisely two months of playoff basketball, Leonard doesn't have a lot of time left to be a fun guy - free agency gets underway at 6 p.m. on June 30.
''I'm going to take the right time,'' he said. ''You don't need too many days to figure it out. We'll see what happens. Once that time comes, then we'll all lay the pros and cons out.''
Visibly bothered by soreness during stretches of the Eastern Conference Finals against Milwaukee, Leonard declined to say how much pain he endured en route to winning his second career title.
''We're always battling through things,'' he said. ''You know, knee pains, ankles, fingers. Everybody was just grinding it out.''
Injured for all but nine games in his final season with San Antonio, Leonard played 60 regular-season games for Toronto and another 24 in the postseason, upping his minutes once April arrived.
While winning a trophy was an obvious success, Leonard said he's enjoyed all aspects of his season north of the border, even the varied Canadian weather.
''It was a good experience, experiencing Mother Nature, all four seasons,'' he said. ''Man, it was a great experience. Everybody off the court was great. The fans, just meeting people in Canada. It's been fun.''
Fans chanted `Stay! Stay! Stay!' when Toronto mayor John Tory presented Leonard with the key.
Later, the festive mood of the event was marred by gunfire. Four people were shot, leading to a stampede. Three people were arrested and two guns were recovered, Toronto police said.
Leonard is one of three Raptors starters with uncertain futures. Center Marc Gasol also has a player option, while guard Danny Green is a free agent.
Guards Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, and forward Serge Ibaka, are heading into the final year of their deals.
Ibaka and Leonard have become friends in their time together as teammates.
''I've been talking with him a lot during the season and in the playoffs, but after we won, I can see the man is happy,'' Ibaka said. ''That's the most important. We play this sport because we want to enjoy and have fun and be happy and be somewhere people love you. I'm sure he feels that people here love him, and after this moment, that's the most important.''
Lowry attended the parade wearing a game-worn Damon Stoudamire pinstripe Raptors jersey. Stoudamire was the first player drafted by Toronto in 1995, and won rookie of the year honors in 1996. Lowry and Stoudamire were teammates in Memphis from 2006 to 2008.
San Antonio Spurs point guard Derrick White continued his good run of form with 23 points in Wednesday's loss to Denver. He shot 6-for-15 from the field and 4-for-10 from downtown with a 7-for-8 record at the line. White added seven assists, three rebounds, two steals, and one block to his line. The 26-year-old guard has really picked up his game in Orlando, producing three 20-point performances in four games. He has also been a good source for assists and rebounds. Meeting Utah on Friday offers another good opportunity for White, as the Jazz haven't defended well against guards this season.
Denver Nuggets forward Jerami Grant had a very productive bench outing in Wednesday's win over San Antonio, scoring 22 points on 8-for-14 shooting. He also had a pair of rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 35 minutes of action. Grant managed only two points in 34 minutes in Monday's overtime win against OKC, so this was a very nice bounce-back effort. He returned to form at a perfect time as well, with Denver taking on a defensively-challenged Portland on Thursday. Only three teams boast a poorer defensive rating this season.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic produced a double-double with 25 points and 11 assists on Wednesday against the Spurs. He shot 10-for-17 from the floor and 3-for-5 from outside. The Joker's stat line also included four assists and one steal with five turnovers. Jokic is rolling nicely in Orlando, and he gets a fascinating matchup against former teammate Jusuf Nurkic on Thursday. He has averaged a 23-12-6 line in the previous three appearances against Portland this season, shooting a sensational 53 percent from downtown.
Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. came up big for the team once more on Wednesday, recording his second consecutive 30-point night. He followed up Monday's 37-point effort with a 30-point game on 11-for-19 shooting. Porter Jr. led all scorers, while also grabbing a game-high 15 rebounds. T.J. Warren suddenly seems to have a rival for the NBA Bubble MVP award. Porter Jr., who went 5-for-9 from deep, should be in a very confident mood ahead of Thursday's clash with Portland, as the Blazers have one of the worst defensive ratings in the league.
Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic was not his dominant self against the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night. In 33 minutes of action, Vucevic provided 12 points and nine rebounds along with three assists and two steals. It was the fewest amount of points Vucevic has scored since the restart after posting back-to-back 20-plus point performances to begin the resumed season. Vucevic has become so reliable that it is unusual to see him not post a double-double. Daily fantasy managers that will automatically put him back in their lineups should be wary. The Magic's next opponent is the Philadelphia 76ers with their third-best defense versus opposing centers.
Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam had a quiet night on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic. In a 109-99 win that almost guarantees Toronto the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Siakam registered 15 points, six rebounds, one assist, and one steal in 34 minutes. Last season's Most Improved Player has been quiet during the NBA restart. The forward is averaging 17.3 points, seven rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. Those are all below his season averages. Hopefully, he can return to his usual form during the final five games of the regular season and turn the corner before the playoffs begin.
In a 109-99 win over the Orlando Magic, Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry did a little bit of everything on Wednesday night. The point guard came almost as close as you can to recording a triple-double without recording a double-double. Lowry had eight points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists in 38 minutes. After a dominating performance against the Lakers on Saturday, the 34-year-old has been quieter in the box score over the last two games. The Raptors take on the Philadelhpia 76ers next, and could be without Ben Simmons for the game. If Lowry's price tag is lowered because of his previous two statistical outings, I like the idea of slotting him in my daily lineup on Friday night.
Toronto Raptors guard Fred Vanvleet scored a game-high 21 points on Wednesday night. In a 109-99 win over the Orlando Magic, FVV scored 21 points to go along with 10 assists, four rebounds, and one steal. The 26-year-old shot 8-for-13 from the field and made two of his five attempts from behind the three-point line. The guard is averaging 23.3 points, 8.3 assists, and 4.7 rebounds in a massive 39 minutes per game. VanVleet is having a good run since the season restarted at Disney World, and Toronto has almost locked up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. FVV's numbers may dip towards the end of the regular season, but, for now, you can pencil him into your daily fantasy rosters and expect a high return in value.
Washington Wizards power forward Rui Hachimura saw a game-high 39 minutes during Wednesdays loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, but was unable to cash in on his time on the floor, shooting just 2-for-11 overall. Over his last three outings, Hachimura has shot 8-for-29, failing to reach double figures in scoring in any of those games. A solid contributor on the glass (eight rebounds Wednesday), Hachimura holds DFS cash play value at this stage, but hell need to see a significant price drop before many owners buy in.
Washington Wizards shooting guard/small forward Jerome Robinson continued to lead the teams second unit against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, dropping 19 points on 5-for-11 shooting. Since entering the bubble, Robinson has been the Wizard who arguably has benefited most from the absence of Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, staples of the teams offense at the time of the shutdown. Having appeared sparingly as a reserve for the Clippers earlier in the year, Robinson now represents a multi-category contributor, having added three rebounds, three assists, and two steals in his 29 minutes. His DFS price tag should remain reasonable heading into Fridays matchup with the ultra-paced Pelicans.
Memphis Grizzlies guard Grayson Allen scored 20 points and made a career-high six threes in 27 minutes off the bench on Wednesday. Allen cashed in on spot-up opportunities all night as Memphis got into the painted area and repeatedly dished it out to him. The 24-year-old has averaged 17.3 points and 4.3 made three-pointers per game in three contests since the NBA's return. While he won't produce many other stats besides points and threes, he's certainly a spark for this Memphis team. He can be a real sneaky DFS play, though he probably shouldn't be used against the Thunder on Friday. They've been stingy in their defense of the arc this year.
Memphis Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas notched a double-double for the third straight game on Wednesday against the Utah Jazz. Valanciunas held his own against two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert, scoring 21 points with 14 rebounds and three assists. The former first-round pick wasn't as efficient as he was in the past two games, but made up for it with his point, rebound and assist totals. Playing on a Memphis team trying to fight for the eighth seed, Valanciunas should be a sneaky double-double machine down the stretch. He'll be a good start on Friday against the Thunder, as he had no trouble with Steven Adams earlier in the year.
Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley recorded 23 points with seven assists, five rebounds, four triples and a steal in a 124-115 win over his former team, the Grizzlies. After a slow start in the bubble, Conley is heating up. The Ohio State product has averaged 23.5 points, 7.5 assists and 3.5 triples per game over the last two contests. Most importantly, Conley has excelled at the same time as Donovan Mitchell, which is a good sign because it shows they can both eat for fantasy purposes. Conley is a good bet to stay hot against the Spurs on Friday.
Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles was a marksman on Wednesday, drilling six triples en route to a 25-point performance in a win over the Grizzlies. Ingles scored just 12 points in his previous two games combined, so this game was sorely needed. Though he wasn't scoring much, he has been a sneaky source of assists, logging 14 in three bubble games. More importantly, the minutes have been there for the 32-year-old now that Bojan Bogdanovic (wrist) is out for the rest of the season. Ingles should be used in DFS against the Spurs on Friday, considering they rank in the bottom-half of the league in both three-pointers and assists allowed.
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert double-doubled for the second straight game on Wednesday. Gobert scored 21 points, pulled down 16 boards and added three blocks, two steals and an assist in the victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. Amazingly, the veteran big man has hit on 85 percent of his free-throws after making them at a 62.3 percent clip prior to the shutdown. While the shooting almost certainly won't continue, DFS players can count on Gobert as a double-double and blocks machine in the bubble. He gets a great matchup on Friday against the Spurs, who just surrendered a double-double to Nikola Jokic.
Washington Wizards center Thomas Bryant continued his masterful development inside the NBA bubble, compiling his third straight double-double during Wednesdays loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Bryant battled All-Star Joel Embiid and managed to finish with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks. Prior to the restart of the NBA season, Bryant attempted more than two three-pointers just three times this year; over his last three games, he has fired up a combined 15 attempts, which could be an extra element he adds to his game. With Bradley Beal, John Wall, and Davis Bertans all absent from Orlando, Bryant will have the opportunity to be a massive impact star on both ends of the court for as long as Washington is on the floor in 2019-20.
Philadelphia 76ers point guard/power forward Ben Simmons made it just 23 minutes into Wednesdays contest against the Washington Wizards before sustaining a knee injury that forced him from the game. While he was seen walking away from the court without crutches, he appeared to be in considerable discomfort near the conclusion of the contest. In addition to missing four free throws, Simmons scuffled from the field to the tune of 2-for-10. He managed to compile eight points, six rebounds, four assists, and two steals during his time on the court, but those numbers fell well below what DFS owners were anticipating. Tobias Harris figures to continue seeing a sizable offensive role if Simmons is out of the mix Friday against Orlando, while Al Horford could see a larger role on the glass.
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid compiled 30 points and 11 rebounds during Wednesdays victory over the Wizards, now having averaged just shy of 33 points per game inside of the bubble. Embiid packed the stat sheet by adding three assists, three steals and two blocks across his 33 minutes, continuing to deliver contributions in ancillary categories. With Ben Simmons (knee) having departed early, Embiid may be looking at an even larger offensive role when he next takes the floor Friday against Orlando. Embiids most recent meeting versus the Magic resulted in him tying his season high with four made triples.
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard (knee) is listed as questionable for Wednesday's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. He was limited to non-contact portions of practice on Tuesday due to soreness in his right knee. The Lakers have already locked up the No. 1 seed, so they can afford to be cautious. JaVale McGee would likely be looking at a boost in playing time if Howard sits out. He could be a low-cost DFS option, but it's tough to trust McGee right now.
Brooklyn Nets guard Caris Levert (thigh) should be back in the starting five for Wednesday's game against the Boston Celtics. The Nets rested LeVert, Joe Harris, and Jarrett Allen on Tuesday because it was the front end of a back-to-back set. It doesn't sound like the Nets are planning to limit LeVert or Harris at all. LeVert has struggled a bit during the bubble, but he is the Nets best scoring threat right now. He'll remain a reliable DFS option going forward.