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Fred VanVleet agrees to 4-year, $85 million deal to stay with the Toronto Raptors

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Fred VanVleet has agreed to a four-year, $85 million deal to re-sign with the Toronto Raptors, agent Brian Jungreis of Parlay Sports & Entertainment told The Athletic.

The deal includes a player option for the final season of the contract, a source confirmed to ESPN.

VanVleet’s journey to stardom was far from a sure bet, as the 6-foot-1 guard went undrafted out of Wichita State ahead of the 2016-17 season. Now he has the largest contract in NBA history for an undrafted player, surpassing Wesley Matthews‘ four-year, $70.1 million deal with the Dallas Mavericks in 2015.

On Saturday, VanVleet responded to his own tweet from 2016 in which he said “Bet on yourself”

After signing with the Raptors on a two-year, $1.45 million deal, VanVleet struggled to find consistent minutes behind a Kyle LowryDeMar DeRozan backcourt. After DeRozan was sent to San Antonio in the Kawhi Leonard deal two seasons ago, VanVleet helped fill the void.

His real breakout came in the playoffs that season, as VanVleet got hot from 3-point range after the birth of his son late in the Eastern Conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks.

In the Finals against the Golden State Warriors, VanVleet shot a blistering 40% on 6.7 3-point attempts per game to help the Raptors win the franchise’s first NBA championship.

VanVleet carried that momentum into last season, averaging career highs across the board. His 17.6 points per game were the most by an undrafted player since Mike James averaged 20.3 with Toronto in the 2005-06 season.

Not just a sharpshooter, VanVleet averaged 6.6 assists last season and got to the foul line nearly four times per game. VanVleet is also a tenacious defender despite his size. He was tied for third in the league in steals, averaging 1.9 per game.

Source:ESPN

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Pascal Siakam: Toronto Raptors forward to miss time due to health and safety protocols – NBA CA

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4h ago


Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors will be without All-Star forward Pascal Siakam for an undisclosed period of time due to the league’s health and safety protocols.

The announcement of Siakam’s upcoming absence came on the heels of the team’s statement that head coach Nick Nurse and five other members of the Raptors’ coaching staff would also miss time for the same reason.

Toronto is one of the few teams this season that have yet to have any games postponed due to coronavirus health and safety protocols. They currently have four games remaining in the first half of the season before the upcoming All-Star break that begins on March 5.

The rest of their first-half schedule is as follows.

The first of those four games will be tonight (Friday) against the Houston Rockets, where the Raptors will be without Siakam, Nurse and the five other members of the coaching staff. Assistant coach Sergio Scariolo will assume head coaching duties in Nurse’s absence, according to the team.

Following a slow start the season, Siakam was getting back into All-Star form prior to this hurdle, averaging 20.1 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. The Raptors currently stand in at 16-17, one game below .500 in a four-way tie for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

NBA.com will continue to provide updates on this developing situation.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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Red-hot Oilers type of challenge Maple Leafs have been waiting for – Sportsnet.ca

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The trip west to Edmonton required a quick layover in the trainer’s room.

That’s where Auston Matthews, Joe Thornton, Jake Muzzin, Frederik Andersen and other key members of the Toronto Maple Leafs had to spend time before heading out on a five-games-in-eight-days roadie featuring a tasty mini-series against the Oilers.

On the surface it didn’t look like an ideal way to prepare for the scorching-hot team challenging their North Division supremacy, but there’s an argument to be made that the opposite is in fact true.

Fundamentally, this is the kind of opportunity the Leafs have been waiting for. The grind is real right now, both with the injuries and the fact many of them probably won’t even step outside from the moment they check into the JW Marriott until they’re boarding a bus to the airport late Wednesday night after playing the Oilers for a third straight time.

Their reward?

A game in Vancouver the very next night.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” said Muzzin. “This whole season has been different.”

It’s the kind of stretch a dominant regular season team finds a way to navigate with only limited damage. And the Leafs, who’ve roared out of the gates with a 15-4-2 start, are setting the internal bar at dominance.

They’ve spoken with respect in the past about the way a former Atlantic Division foe like the Boston Bruins always seemed to be winning or challenging for the Presidents’ Trophy no matter what kind of absences they incurred along the way.

That has not historically been a hallmark of their own group, but there are encouraging signs of growth so far this season. Toronto is fresh off a 1-1 split with the Calgary Flames in games where they had to start No. 3 goaltender Michael Hutchinson while Thornton, Muzzin, Wayne Simmonds and other trusted veterans watched injured from the stands.

Matthews has played most of this season with a nagging wrist issue and wasn’t able to take faceoffs for the final 24 minutes of Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime win over the Flames. Still, he managed to keep his tremendously productive run going by picking up assists on both of William Nylander’s goals.

“While he had to adapt his game and I had to adapt how we used him a little bit, he still competed his ass off right till the very end,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said Friday of Matthews. “In fact, (he) makes a great play to give Willy the space to make the play he made on the overtime-winning goal.

“That’s a good sign for both: The fact that we feel like the injury isn’t something that’s going to slow him down too much here, but also just the fact that he just competes and finds ways to adapt and has done the things that he’s able to.”

The guess here is we’ll see Matthews go head-to-head with Connor McDavid on Saturday even though he didn’t take part in Friday’s practice. A final determination on his availability for the game won’t be made until the hours before puck drop, but he’s found a way to score a league-best 18 goals while managing the situation so far.

There will also be an “all hands on deck” approach with the way the Oilers have been rolling. They’ve picked up 11 wins in 13 games starting with the last meeting between the teams — a 4-3 overtime victory that ended with McDavid’s goal at Rogers Place on Jan. 30 — and are now within a whisper of the Leafs, just four points behind in the standings.

“They’re playing great team hockey right now,” said Thornton.

“We’re going to have to be ready. We looked at some stuff today,” added Muzzin. “They’re a team that’s firing right now. They’ve got good goaltending, their defence is doing well and the stars are playing hard.”

He’ll return for Saturday’s game and not a moment too soon. The Leafs have somewhat managed to contain McDavid in the 5-on-5 minutes against their top shutdown pair of Muzzin and Justin Holl this season, and that duo has had success against Leon Draisaitl as well.

Muzzin missed a week after breaking a bone below his right eye last Saturday night when Tyler Toffoli’s stick hit him on the follow through of a shot and described it as a harrowing experience.

“Yeah, a little bit scary, I’m not going to lie,” said Muzzin. “When you get hit in the face, you kind of black out a little bit and then you see the blood coming. So I was just praying that the eye was OK.”

Thornton also got nicked-up during that visit to Montreal and missed the subsequent two games. He hopes to return against Edmonton. And Jack Campbell should be ready to start in goal for the first time since injuring his leg on Jan. 24.

But even some of the guys who’ve been dressing are doing so at less than 100 per cent — Zach Hyman, notably, didn’t participate in special team’s drills during Friday’s practice after taking a couple of recent shots off the skate boot — because we’ve simply reached that point in the schedule.

The difference between good and great can be established by teams when they’re tired, banged-up and operating at reduced physical capacity. Everyone has to deal with those stretches at some point during the season.

Toronto is in one at a moment when the Oilers have eaten into their division lead and they’ve got three straight head-to-head meetings on deck.

“We feel like we’ve been going pretty well as a team here and it’s still real close [in the standings],” said Keefe. “You can’t take any games or any days off.”

If they can take care of their own business, the path ahead should get easier.

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Sergio Scariolo coaches Raptors with Nick Nurse and five assistants out under NBA protocols. Pascal Siakam, too – Toronto Star

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The NBA’s extensive and ubiquitous health and safety protocols caught up with the Raptors in a big way on Friday.

Head coach Nick Nurse, five members of his coaching staff and star forward Pascal Siakam were forced to miss Friday night’s game with the Houston Rockets in Tampa because of health concerns surrounding the league’s battle against the coronavirus.

General manager Bobby Webster would not say how long any of the coaches or Siakam would be unavailable, citing privacy concerns. Nor would he say whether there were positive test results or if personnel were being held out because of contact tracing protocols or inconclusive tests.

It was also unclear whether Siakam’s absence, announced hours after the coaching news broke, was related.

“Obviously, the NBA is being extremely careful here,” Webster said before the game. “It’s early in what’s going on here, so I think we’re all being conscientious and not taking any risks, so I think that’s more of what’s going on. But … we’ll see what tomorrow brings us, as we’re all diligently getting tested and awaiting the results every day.”

Sergio Scariolo, who just cleared the NBA’s quarantine program Friday morning after returning from a stint coaching the Spanish national team last weekend, was the acting head coach Friday night. The decision to play the game rested with the NBA, Webster said.

“The NBA is looking out for the best interests of both teams and … obviously we have to trust and have a high degree of comfort that they’re making a decision,” he said. “They’re not exposing us, they’re not exposing the other team and they’re playing it safe as well.”

The Raptors have been one of just four teams to escape any significant issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic this season. No player or coach had missed a game before Friday, and they have not had a game postponed.

Scariolo, who had been away for EuroBasket qualifying, was the clear choice to fill in, Webster said.

“Not a difficult decision,” said the GM. “Probably more of a difficult decision to figure out who’s left, who’s around him, what’s the game plan, substitution patterns and all of that. But designating Sergio was not a difficult decision for us.”

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