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The Raptors’ loss of Serge Ibaka leaves a big hole, on the court and off – Toronto Star

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The chance of the Raptors getting a new, impact face for their frontcourt in free agency has dwindled to nothing but there remain options — familiar, mostly — to fill a major void.

They have lost out on retaining Serge Ibaka, which may not be a calamity but it certainly can’t be spun as good news, and they are getting close to being in scramble mode with the pickings getting slimmer by the hour.

“All will be well,” a highly placed team source said Sunday morning, but that may be as much wishful thinking as anything.

Ibaka fled Toronto for a two-year, $19-million (U.S.) deal with the Los Angeles Clippers late Saturday, spoiling the feel-good mood of earlier in the day when Fred VanVleet agreed to a four-year, $85 million contract to stay.

It was more important for the Raptors retain a 26-year-old guard still ascendant in his career rather than a 31-year-old power forward who would have only gotten a one-year deal, so Toronto had a net free agency win Saturday. But it’s time to look at the possibilities of Ibaka’s replacement and there isn’t any reason to think any major player is coming.

A combination of the labour force — the likes of DeMarcus Cousins, Aron Baynes and Hassan Whiteside are available — and the desire to limit any contract to one year to protect 2021 cap space leaves Ujiri and Webster with few legitimate options.

Marc Gasol and Chris Boucher would be near the top of the list and would provide the familiarity and consistency good teams need.

But Gasol will turn 36 about a month into next season and he’s coming off a year where injuries and the pandemic layoff robbed him of a lot of his effectiveness. He is also attracting interest around the league, although the Raptors have the upper hand in salary they can offer him. Reports indicate both the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors are intrigued by the possibility of signing him.

Boucher has never logged big minutes in the NBA and it might be a reach to trust him to be a regular on a top-four conference team might be a reach.

The others? They’re just guys for the most part, good but not great, intriguing to some degree if you can talk yourself into their usefulness. None would swing the balance of power in the East and trying to convince them that a one-year deal is worth taking might prove difficult.

The Raptors do have money to spend, if they can find someone they feel worth spending it on. Under salary cap rules, they can pay Gasol anything they want. There are limits to what they can offer the restricted free agent Boucher but they do have up to $9.2 million to spend on a mid-level exception.

One option that remains for Ujiri and Webster is to find a trade that will fill the frontcourt void. What it would cost might be an issue — the only player likely to fetch something on the market who could be a difference maker is Norm Powell.

But Powell is coming off an excellent season and the Raptors see him as a key piece of the future. It’s incomprehensible they wold consider moving Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby, and it would be a stunning development if Kyle Lowry’s $31-million contract was moved, with his value to the franchise.

Even if nothing happens between now and the Dec. 1 opening of training camps, the team’s front office has a proven history of making deals under the right circumstances.

The loss of Ibaka, regardless of what comes next, is a bitter pill for the Raptors. His evolution since arriving in a February 2017 trade for Terrence Ross was quite something to see unfold.

He arrived a tentative and somewhat reluctant addition, unsure of where he fit in the organization’s plans and even what position he would play. He morphed into an integral part of a championship team — its best rim protector, a big man with deep shooting range, a tenacious defender and a mentor to young players like Anunoby and Terence Davis II.

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Off the court, he thrived and became one of the team’s most popular players, able to connect with fans on a variety of levels. His YouTube cooking show “How Hungry Are You?” was a huge hit — sautéed worms for DeMar DeRozan and pizza topped with bull penis for Kawhi Leonard were memorable episodes — and his “How Bored Are You?” social media hits at the start of the pandemic were entertaining.

With his fashion pursuits and his presence, Ibaka was a fun piece of a roster that was one of the best blends of basketball talent and personalities around Toronto in years.

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Lions fire Matt Patricia, GM Bob Quinn – theScore

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The Detroit Lions fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn on Saturday, the team announced.

Patricia is the third NFL head coach to be fired this season. The Houston Texans parted ways with Bill O’Brien and the Atlanta Falcons cut ties with Dan Quinn earlier in the year.

Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will take over as interim head coach, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Patricia and Quinn entered the season firmly on the hot seat, as Lions ownership said the team must be a playoff contender for their jobs to be saved. However, a blowout loss to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving pushed Detroit to 4-7 and ended any remaining postseason hopes.

Patricia finishes his time in Detroit with a 13-29-1 record and no playoff appearances.

The former New England Patriots defensive coordinator was hired in the 2018 offseason.

Detroit won 36 games in the four seasons prior under Jim Caldwell but struggled against winning teams and was bounced immediately in two playoff appearances (2014, 2016).

Quinn, who also used to work for the Patriots as an executive, was hired as general manager in 2016.

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SIMMONS: Rogers needs to spend on ball team not ballpark – Toronto Sun

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Article content continued

ssimmons@postmedia.com
twitter.com/simmonssteve

IBAKA COULD HAVE STAYED WITH RAPTORS, HE CHOSE NOT TO

“How to explain what Toronto, Canada, and the Raptors mean to me?

“I was welcomed to a new country and a new team more than three years ago and I felt at home from day one. I feel really blessed to have played for this city, these fans, and this organization.”

That was Serge Ibaka’s emotional goodbye to the city. It was also pretty much social-media, agent-driven packaged bunk.

Ibaka had a choice to make about his NBA career. He was a free agent, had earned that right, and the key word being free. From that, you can decide what you, as a player, want to do and where you want to play and if there’s more than one offer, and there was in this case, then the decision gets a little more complicated.

Let’s be clear here: For all Ibaka loved Toronto, Canada and the Raptors, and how much it apparently tore him apart to leave, the first opportunity he had, he left. He signed on with the Los Angeles Clippers. With Kawhi Leonard. He was championship chasing here, not unusual in the NBA, and in this case it’s championship chasing and getting the opportunity to live in LA.

Serge Ibaka could have stayed and played with the Raptors at least one more season, maybe more. He made a decision in his best interest. It was his choice to leave.

TORONTO DESERVES NEW BALLPARK. MAYBE JUST NOT NOW

In downtown Pittsburgh, hardly the economic centre of the U.S., there is one of the great ballparks in all of America.

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Lions fire head coach Patricia, GM Quinn – TSN

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The Detroit Lions are making a change at head coach and general manager.

The team announced the firing of head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn on Saturday, two day after his team fell 41-25 to the Houston Texans.

Patricia’s tenure with the team concludes midway through his third season at the helm of the Lions. With the team currently sitting at 4-7, Patricia finishes with a 13-29-1 record over the three seasons.

Patricia’s Lions teams did not make the playoffs in his first two seasons.

The 46-year-old Sherrill, NY native succeeded Jim Caldwell, who led the Lions to the playoffs twice in four seasons becoming the first Lions coach to reach the postseason on multiple occasions since Bobby Ross in 1999.

Prior to joining the Lions, Patricia spent over a decade as a coach under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots. Starting as an offensive assistant in 2004, Patricia worked his way up to defensive coordinator, a role he spent six seasons in from 2012 to 2017. With the Pats, Patricia won three Super Bowl titles.

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will serve as the Lions’ interim head coach, according to a report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The team returns to action on Dec. 6 when they visit the Chicago Bears.

Patricia becomes the second NFL coached fired in season in 2020. The Texans fired Bill O’Brien after an 0-4 start in October.

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