The Toronto Raptors and guard Norman Powell agreed to a four-year, $42 million contract extension Thursday, which will keep him with the team through 2021-22. Powell, 24, averaged 8.4 points and 2.2 rebounds last season. The 2015 second-round pick became an integral bench cog on the wing and made 18 spot starts. Because Powell was a second-round pick, he was due for restricted free agency after his third NBA season. That meant he was eligible for an extension of either 120 percent of his 2017-18 salary or 120 percent of the projected average NBA salary for next season. Considering he makes $1.4 million this season, it was a no-brainer what the starting rate for his extension would be. While the terms of Powell’s extension are sound, the Raptors have put themselves deep into luxury-tax territory next season. Toronto now has $124 million in guaranteed contracts on its books, putting it well above the threshold.
Charlotte Hornets shooting guard Nicolas Batum suffered a torn ligament in his left elbow and will be out eight to 12 weeks. Batum took to Twitter:” It’s my left arm guys! Everybody knows I’m not using my left hand (that’s what the scooting report says).We have a deep roster we’ll be fine”. Batum is a versatile across-the-board producer for the Hornets. He averaged 15.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists across his first two seasons with the organization after spending the first seven years of his career with the Blazers. The 28-year-old France national team stalwart has remained mostly durable during his decade in the NBA. The only season he missed significant time was 2009-10 with the Blazers when he sat out 45 games with a shoulder injury that required surgery. With Batum now sidelined for the next two to three months, No. 11 overall pick Malik Monk figures to see the biggest uptick in playing time. Jeremy Lamb and Michael Carter-Williams could also carve out larger roles in the team’s rotation.
Not that it should be a surprise based on his history, but Mike D’Antoni’s plan to beat the Golden State Warriors is to simply outscore them. The Houston Rockets coach gave his thoughts on facing the defending champions: “You’re not gonna stop them. It’s just not gonna happen. They’re not gonna stop us either. Should be fun.”
D’Antoni, who has employed fast-paced systems with an offensive focus in stops with the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers, had a similar approach in his first year with the Rockets last season. Houston finished second in the league with an average of 115.3 points per game, although the 109.6 points allowed per game ranked 26th in the NBA. It was enough to earn the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and a trip to the conference semifinals before losing in six games to the San Antonio Spurs. However, the team added nine-time All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who could help the offense even more by finding top scorers like James Harden, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and others. After leading the league in three-pointers last year, the approach could be similar this time around. Of course, it will always be difficult for anyone in the NBA to keep up with the Warriors, which led the NBA with 115.9 points per game last season and return four All-Stars in the starting lineup.