Despite dealing with a calf strain, Yuta Watanabe is a safe bet to make the Raptors’ opening-night roster, according to Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. Watanabe is a multi-position defender and the coaching staff is looking for him to play a bigger offensive role. His partially guaranteed contract becomes fully guaranteed if he’s on the 15-man after training camp.
Freddie Gillespie, whose partially-guaranteed deal also becomes fully guaranteed on opening night, may be playing his way off the Raptors’ roster, Murphy writes. Gillespie struggled in summer league games and hasn’t looked any better in preseason action.
We have more from the Atlantic Division:
- Raptors center Khem Birch was cleared to make his preseason debut on Monday after a bout with COVID-19, Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca tweets. Birch, along with his wife and daughter, caught the virus and he experienced symptoms despite being fully vaccinated. Birch re-signed with Toronto on a three-year deal this summer.
- Birch and Precious Achiuwa will split the minutes at the center spot on an almost even platoon when the regular season commences, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. It’s not certain who will start but the Raptors will ease Birch back into action. Chris Boucher will be out at least another 2-3 weeks as he recovers from finger surgery.
- Amid reports that the possibility of Ben Simmons reporting to the Sixers is growing, coach Doc Rivers said on Monday that “we would love to get him back,” Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. Rivers has spoken with Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, adding that “our position hasn’t changed at all.”
- Nets forward Paul Millsap was also sidelined briefly by the league’s health and safety protocols during camp but he was cleared to play in Monday’s preseason game, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Millsap only missed one preseason contest.