So much for August being a quiet month in the NBA.
Typically after the free agent frenzy in July, news of signings and trades levels off considerably until training camps begin in October. As for the 2014 offseason, it hasn’t exactly fit into this model.
The best example would be the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have been busy wheeling and dealing early this month in an effort to build a championship contender for next season.
The Knicks have also stayed busy so far in August, agreeing on a four-player trade with the Sacramento Kings.
Most importantly, for this column anyway, even the Toronto Raptors have managed to keep themselves in the headlines of the daily newspapers.
To summarize the first week of August, here are some news and notes from Raptorland.
1. Raptors remaining roster spots filled
At the beginning of August, I wrote about the approach the Raptors might take to fill out their roster for next season. Even after acquiring Lou Williams and the rights to Lucas Nogueira from the Atlanta Hawks, signing James Johnson, and agreeing to new contracts with Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson, and Greivis Vasquez, the Raptors still had two openings on their roster.
All along it was expected that one of those spots would go to Nogueira, a 7′ center from Brazil. The 22-year old had been playing professionally in Spain since 2009 and was under contract for next season, so the hold up was that a buyout had to be reached before he could officially join the Raptors.
Nogueira, also known as “Bebe,” agreed to terms with the Raptors on Sunday, Aug. 3.
He played five games for the Raptors in the Las Vegas Summer League and averaged five points and 5.8 rebounds in 20 minutes per contest.
The Raptors were in need of a big man capable of blocking shots and protecting the rim. Whether Nogueira can provide that, in what will be his rookie season, is a matter of debate.
At this point, Nogueira, who was drafted 16th overall by the Boston Celtics in 2013, would seem to fall behind starter Jonas Valanciunas and reserves Tyler Hansbrough, and Chuck Hayes on the depth chart at the center position. However, a strong training camp performance by Nogueira might earn him some playing time in the front-court.
At the very least, Bebe is a young player for the Raptors to develop.
The Raptors also addressed the recognized need for a third-string point guard, by signing Will Cherry. He was also signed on Sunday, Aug. 3. According to CBSSports.com, the deal is for two years at the league minimum salary.
The University of Montana product went undrafted in 2013, but he went on to play 18 games in the D-League in 2013-14 for the Canton Charge, posting averages of 11.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists.
Cherry reportedly caught the attention of the Raptors during the Las Vegas Summer League, when on July 17 as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers he poured in 21 points against the Houston Rockets and went toe-to-toe with Isaiah Canaan.
He also amassed 21 points, seven rebounds, and four assists against the San Antonio Spurs in summer league action on July 13.
According to NBADraft.net, the 23-year-old Cherry is a “tough player who prides himself on defense.” Much like Nogueira, Cherry will find himself at the bottom of the depth chart at his position, but a commitment to defense could help him earn minutes in coach Dwane Casey’s system.
2. Raptors preseason schedule announced
To give us something to think about for the next two months, the Raptors also announced their eight-game preseason schedule on Wednesday, Aug. 6.
The schedule is book-ended with dates in Canadian cities, other than Toronto of course.
On Oct. 5, the Raptors will face the Sacramento Kings at Rogers Arena in Vancouver and their exhibition schedule concludes on Oct. 24 at the Bell Centre in Montreal against the New York Knicks.
What comes to mind at this point is that this will be the first opportunity for most of us to see 20th overall pick Bruno Caboclo play basketball — not just against NBA competition, but in general.
3. DeRozan among finalists for Team USA
On Monday, Aug. 4, the roster for the U.S. national team was trimmed down to 16 players.
Washington Wizards teammates John Wall and Bradley Beal and Hawks forward Paul Millsap were cut from the team, while DeMar DeRozan remains in consideration to play for the United States at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The Tournament will take place in Spain and is set to begin on Aug. 30.
Between now and then, four more players (actually three now that Kevin Durant has withdrawn from consideration) will have to be cut to get the roster down to 12. As reported by Holly MacKenzie of Raptors.com, DeRozan, who turned 25 on Thursday, Aug. 7, is eager to earn one of those spots.
“It’s a big deal for me because I kind of represent my country and the country of Canada. I get to show off the two countries that root for me. It’s always fun just to be mentioned in a pool of players that are able to make your country’s team and represent them. It’s a great honor.”
After being named an All-Star for the first time in 2013-14, this would be an exciting next step in DeRozan’s professional career.
While these three news items may or may not have peaked anyone’s interest, at least there is actually something to talk about during the dog days of the NBA calendar.