Gasol could make Raptors debut vs. lowly Knicks
The Toronto Raptors and New York Knicks were both busy at the NBA trade deadline, albeit with entirely different goals in mind.
Both teams might move closer to their objectives Saturday night, when the free-falling Knicks host the Raptors at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks closed in on matching an ignoble record Friday night, when they absorbed their 15th consecutive defeat in falling to the host Detroit Pistons, 120-103. The Raptors earned their third straight win Thursday when they beat the Hawks in Atlanta, 119-101.
If the Knicks, who have also lost 23 of their past 24 and 28 of their past 30 to fall to an NBA-worst 10-44, lose to the Raptors on Saturday, they would match the longest losing streak in franchise history. The 2014-15 team dropped 16 straight on its way to finishing 17-65, the worst record in New York's 72 NBA seasons.
New York, which also has lost 15 straight home games, fully committed to the tank on Feb. 1 by trading Kristaps Porzingis to the Dallas Mavericks in a six-player blockbuster. The 7-foot-3 power forward once appeared ready to become the Knicks' franchise player.
The trade positioned the Knicks to continue vying for one of the three worst records in the league -- and a 14 percent chance at winning the draft lottery and the chance to pick Duke freshman Zion Williamson. New York also heads into the summer with enough cap room to pursue two top free agents.
The Knicks could improve in a hurry if all goes according to plan. Until then, though, there are some bleak days and nights ahead.
"Everyone's situation is different," first-year Knicks head coach David Fizdale said Thursday, shortly after the team waived two more veterans, Enes Kanter and Wesley Matthews. "It just so happens that our situation is calling for building through the draft and free agency."
The Raptors' situation is much different.
Toronto, which has finished first or second in the Atlantic Division in each of the last five years but has gotten to the Eastern Conference finals just once, signaled it was going all-in on the pursuit of the first championship in team history by acquiring center Marc Gasol from the Grizzlies on Thursday.
The Raptors sent center Jonas Valanciunas, guard Delon Wright, guard/forward C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round draft pick to Memphis.
The trade allowed the Raptors, who have the second-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Milwaukee, to keep pace with the Bucks as well as the Philadelphia 76ers, each of whom also made blockbuster deals in hopes of ending decades-long championship droughts.
Milwaukee, which won its lone NBA title in 1971, acquired Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans. Philadelphia, which hasn't won it all since 1983, obtained Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers.
Gasol, who played in 59 postseason games for the Grizzlies and helped them get to the 2013 Western Conference finals, should provide the Raptors with a steady hand once the playoffs arrive.
"Marc brings significant playoff experience to our team, which along with his savviness and leadership skills really helps position us for our ultimate postseason goal," Raptors president Masai Ujiri said.
Assuming Gasol makes his Raptors debut Saturday, he will be playing for the first time since last Sunday. He sat out Memphis' Tuesday game for rest amid the trade rumors.
Gasol, 34, is averaging 15.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game this season.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 9, 2019