The Toronto Raptors backcourt depth suffered a huge blow today when the team announced that Delon Wright will be out at least the next four months following arthroscopic surgery to repair and stabilize a labral tear in his right shoulder.Wright sustained the injury on July 16, in the fourth quarter of the Raptors Las Vegas Summer League game versus Minnesota.
Wright wasn’t likely to see a lot of time this season as he was projected to be the team’s fifth guard. However, the 24-year-old, who split time with the Raptors and the D-League, was expected to see an increase from the 229 minutes that he saw last year. The 6-foot-5 point guard was just okay in his five game summer league stint, producing 8.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game. He had two double-figure games and shot 41.0 percent from the floor though just 16.7 percent from long distance.
Last year, Wright averaged 3.5 points, 1.4 rebounds and 1.1 assists in the 27 games he appeared in. He also shot 45.0 percent from the floor and 38.5 percent beyond the three-point line.
With Wright out, Raptors Republic is reporting that the door is now open for Fred VanVleet to secure the team’s final roster spot. VanVleet, an undrafted rookie out of Wichita State, will battle fellow undrafted rookie Jarrod Uthoff as well as anyone else Toronto brings in.
The Raptors currently have 16 players under contract though only VanVleet and Uthoff have non-fully guaranteed deals, according to Basketball Insiders. VanVleet signed a two-year minimum contract with just $50,000 guaranteed, while Uthoff also signed a two-year deal, though it is unknown how much of the amount is guaranteed, per Shams Charania of the Vertical.
Sources: Undrafted Iowa forward Jarrod Uthoff has agreed to a partially guaranteed two-year deal with the Toronto Raptors.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 21, 2016
The 5-foot-11 VanVleet is a good shooter with range, but is kinda of on the smallish side and lacks elite athleticism. VanVleet rebounded the ball very well overall for the Raptors’ summer league squad, grabbing six rebounds in two of the five games. Overall, VanVleet averaged 6.2 points and 3.0 rebounds as well as 1.6 assists. He shot 41.7 percent from the field, but knocked down 54.5 percent (6-of-11) of his shots from beyond the arc.
The 6-foot-9 Uthoff is an athletic forward that can rebound, block shots and stretch the floor with his shooting. He’s also great at protecting the rim and has the ability to guard multiple positions.
Uthoff was not much of a factor in the summer league, appearing in four games for the Sacramento Kings. Uthoff averaged 4.5 points and 2.2 boards while shooting 40.0 percent from the field. His best game came against the San Antonio Spurs (July 15), producing eight points along with two boards and two dimes in 15 minutes of action.
If VanVleet does make the 15-man roster, he would be behind Kyle Lowery, Cory Joseph, DeMar DeRozan and Norman Powell on the depth chart. In the meanwhile, Uthoff would be the fourth small forward, though it would be conceivable that he would see some time at power forward. In the event that Uthoff does make the squad, Terrence Ross could move over to shooting guard.
There is a chance that both VanVleet and Uthoff make the squad, but that would only occur if Toronto was able to pull off a trade with the Atlanta Hawks for Paul Millsap as rumored. The Raptors are still a little thin in the frontcourt, despite signing Jared Sullinger, as they lost Bismack Biyombo and Luis Scola during free agency.
If Toronto was able to acquire Millsap, he would immediately step into the starting power forward spot that is currently owned by Patrick Patterson. The 31-year-old would provide the Raps’ frontcourt a much needed low-post scoring threat and an excellent defensive player. He is coming off perhaps his best season of his career, producing 17.1 points along with 9.0 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1.7 blocks a contest.
According to the Digital Journal, Toronto would have to give up two role players and possibly a draft choice in order to acquire Millsap. The deal that makes the most sense for the Raptors would be sending Ross and Patterson along with a future first round selection to Atlanta for the 6-foot-8 power forward-center. Millsap can become a free agent after this upcoming season by declining his player option.
Ross, 25, is an athletic wing who has the ability to shoot the ball and has three years left on his contract. The 6-foot-7 guard-forward is coming off a decent season, averaging 9.9 points and 2.3 rebounds, while shooting a career-high 43.1 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc.
Patterson, 27, is coming off a disappointing 2015-16 season. The 27-year-old averaged just 6.9 points and 4.3 rebounds in 25.6 minutes of action. He shot 41.4 percent from the floor and 36.2 percent from beyond the arc last season. Patterson is entering the last year of his contract.
Currently, Toronto’s frontcourt includes Patterson, Jonas Valanciunas, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam, Lucas Nogueira and Sullinger. Poeltl and Siakam are rookies while Nogueira has just 35 NBA games under his belt.
Despite the Raptors interest, it doesn’t mean that Atlanta will trade Millsap or if the Hawks do deal that veteran it doesn’t mean he will be going to Toronto. Bleacher Report proposed a trade that involved Millsap and Thabo Sefolosha going to Denver for Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Farried and Gary Harris. The Boston Celtics also are reportedly interested in Millsap.
[Photo by John Bazemore/AP Photo]