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Why Raptors' Norman Powell is the secret star of the NBA trade deadline – CBS Sports

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A good rule of thumb in the buildup to the NBA trade deadline is to always remember that every available player is available for a reason. They’re old, they’re unhappy, they’re defective, they’re replaceable. Teams generally don’t find cornerstones at the deadline. They add niche pieces for specific roles or aging veterans with enough left in the tank for one last ride. Sellers don’t sell their younger players with premium skill sets. They keep them. 

That is especially true on offense. Multi-level scorers are usually impossible to find in the middle of the season. Vince Carter is the only player in NBA history to be traded in a season in which he averaged at least 20 points per game and shot above 40 percent on 3-pointers (on at least two attempts per game), and he himself pushed for that deal. Lower the scoring threshold to 15 and the list is still only 10 players long. Bump the shooting threshold up to 43 percent from there and the list drops back down to two: Cuttino Mobley in 2005 and Al Harrington in 2007. Both had more NBA experience at the time of their trades than Norman Powell does now. 

That, in part, explains Powell’s availability. He has started 119 games in his career, only 11 more than LeBron James did as a teenager. In fairness, Powell’s play didn’t warrant a starting slot earlier in his career. This is only his second season scoring in double figures. He shot 28.5 percent from behind the arc only three seasons ago. His ascent with the Toronto Raptors has been as meteoric as it was unexpected. Nothing from the early portion of Powell’s career suggested he was going to become one of the NBA’s best all-around scorers. 

Yet here we are, a day away from a deadline in which Powell might be the best scorer that gets traded. If he does get dealt, he would become the highest-scoring 43 percent 3-point shooter ever to be traded at 19.5 points per game. The ends aren’t as impressive as the means. Powell generates points in just about every way that an NBA player can do so. He shoots at least 41 percent on both pull-up and catch-and-shoot 3s. He draws more fouls on a per-possession basis than Kyrie Irving and Paul George, makes 64 percent of his field goals in the restricted area and ranks in the 85th percentile or better in terms of spot-up, isolation and pick-and-roll scoring efficiency. He is that preciously rare multi-level scorer, a possible deadline addition as capable of creating shots for himself as he is benefitting from the ones a superstar makes for him. 

This begs the question that frames most deadline deals: What’s the catch? Why is he available? He’s not old. At 27, he’s still quite young, and given how few minutes he’s played and games he’s started, there’s an argument to be made that he still has a fair bit of room to improve. Is he unhappy? Not that we know of. He’s not defective, either. His height (6-3) can prove a bit problematic on defense in certain matchups, but his 6-11 wingspan more than makes up for it, and Powell has never been a glaring negative on defense. He’s already played rotation minutes on a championship team before. Teams don’t need to worry about him getting played off the floor.

If anything, his defect is that he’s too valuable. Powell has an $11.6 million player option for next season. He is expected to decline that and seek a salary in the neighborhood of $20 million per year. It’s one that he’s earned. Jerami Grant earned a similar contract without ever posting the numbers Powell is putting up now. Paying Powell market value might not bother some teams. It seems to bother the Raptors, who have carefully spent the past several years carving out significant cap space for this offseason. They did so with Giannis Antetokounmpo in mind, but even with the superstars now spoken for, Toronto is nine games below .500 with Powell and Kyle Lowry in place. Wanting to retool around the existing core of Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam is understandable, and it’s not fully possible with Powell on the books. 

Teams with more modest offseason ambitions don’t need to worry about that. Powell will be expensive, yes, but acquiring him now could allow an interested party without 2021 cap space to get him, and use his Bird rights to keep him, when they otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to do so. That’s a chance to circumvent not only the salary cap, but historical norms. 

Players like Powell just don’t become available particularly often. That doesn’t make him a superstar, but it makes him the hidden star of the 2021 trade deadline. Some team is going to add the sort of player most of the league doesn’t have access to at this point in the season, and if the right team does so, it won’t only impact the coming postseason, but change the face of a contending roster for years to come. 

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Rafael Nadal rallies from set down to advance in Barcelona

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Top seed Rafael Nadal rallied from a set back to beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round at the Barcelona Open in Spain.

Nadal lost serve in the opening game of the match and wasn’t able to break Ivashka’s serve throughout the first set. He won just 70.6 percent of points on his first serve, was broken twice and had two double faults in an uncharacteristically poor showing on service in the opening set.

By the second set, he had righted his serve, winning 86.7 percent of points on his first serve in the second set and 83.3 percent in the third. He didn’t face a break point in either set.

In other action, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 3 Andrey Rublev of Russia, No. 4 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 6 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada were among those advancing.

No. 9 Fabio Fognini of Italy defaulted for verbal abuse. He was losing 6-0, 4-4 to Zapata Miralles of Spain when the line judge reported him for swearing after a foot fault. He had been warned earlier in the match

Serbia Open

Top seed and home-country favorite Novak Djokovic needed just 68 minutes to top South Korean Soon-woo Kwon 6-1, 6-3 and advance to the quarterfinals in Belgrade, Serbia.

Djokovic capitalized on five of his eight service break opportunities in the win. In the next round, he’ll meet fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, the eighth seed, who needed three sets to oust Arthur Rinderknech of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Also advancing was the No. 2 seed, Matteo Berrettini, who defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-3. Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic beat Nikola Milojevic 6-1, 6-1 in an all-Serb match.

 

(Field Level Media)

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Ice hockey-Women’s world championships cancelled due to COVID-19

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(Reuters) -The women’s ice hockey world championships set to be played in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia have been cancelled because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Canada, Hockey Canada said on Wednesday.

The announcement came one day before the 10 teams were to arrive to begin their quarantine ahead of the May 6-16 tournament.

“This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin,” said International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel in a statement.

“We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

The IIHF and Hockey Canada were informed by the Nova Scotia provincial government on Wednesday that the 10-country tournament could not go ahead due to safety concerns associated with COVID-19.

Still the news came as a shock after Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer had 24 hours earlier given the event the thumbs- up.

“At five o’clock this morning we were full go and at 7:30 am we were not,” explained Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney. “That is the way the world is right now and there is only so much we can control.

“At the end of the day there is a bigger game than the one we play here and quite honestly it is about the safety of the general public.”

The cancellation was another blow for the women’s game that has endured a number of recent setbacks, including the folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

It was also the second consecutive year the Nova Scotia world championships have been stopped by COVID-19.

“Definitely, a little bit of disbelief, a little shock, a lot of emotion,” said Canadian coach Gina Kingsbury, who pulled some players off the ice to deliver the bad news. “This is a group that has been through a lot this past year and two years so they are definitely familiar with disappointing news.”

Both the IIHF and Hockey Canada indicated they plan to play the world championships this year, possibly this summer, in Canada.

“Our intention, and that of the IIHF, is to reconnect with this event as a world championship in 2021 in Canada,” said Renney. “That’s our number one objective. We have every desire to hold this event in Canada.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Nick Foligno hopes to make Leafs debut Thursday vs. Jets

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Former Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno is eyeing Thursday as his potential debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he said on an NHL.com podcast.

The Maple Leafs acquired the left wing on April 11 in a three-team trade with Columbus and the San Jose Sharks, with each team retaining a portion of Foligno’s salary so he can join the North Division leaders for their Stanley Cup pursuit. Toronto visits the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.

Because he moved from the U.S. to Canada, Foligno was required to quarantine for seven days before joining his new team for practices and games, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.

“Seven days of just nothing, and then you jump right into it, it would be nice to probably have a practice, but I rather just that — let’s go,” Foligno said on “The Chirp with Darren Millard.” “I’m here to play for them and get this thing rolling, so I probably prefer just to jump right into it and get going.”

If the Leafs put Foligno in their lineup Thursday at Winnipeg, he’ll get to play against his former Columbus teammate, Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Foligno played eight-plus seasons for the Blue Jackets and his first five NHL seasons with the Ottawa Senators. In 950 career games, he has tallied 203 goals and 279 assists.

The Maple Leafs sent their 2021 first-round pick and 2022 fourth-rounder to Columbus and their 2021 fourth-rounder to San Jose in order to add Foligno to their stacked group of forwards, which includes NHL goal-scoring leader Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Mitch Marner.

 

Foligno’s father, Mike Foligno, was an NHL veteran who played parts of four seasons for the Leafs

 

(Field Level Media)

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