The fight to make the Raptors‘ 15-man regular season squad has been one of the NBA’s more competitive preseason roster battles, with Sam Dekker, Ishmail Wainright, and Isaac Bonga vying to earn two spots (or just one, if Toronto opens the season with 14 players). Addressing the competition today, Dekker said he’ll be happy for Wainright and/or Bonga if they beat him out for a roster spot.
“These are guys I’ll stay in touch with for a long time no matter what and I’m always going to cheer for them, because it’s the weakness of a man to root for someone to fail,” Dekker said, adding that his current teammates are some of the “kindest human beings” he knows (Twitter link via Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca).
Wainright also expressed gratitude for the opportunity to make his case for a regular season roster spot, regardless of what the Raptors decide.
“No matter how it goes, I’m not going to hang my head,” Wainright said (Twitter link via Lewenberg). “My family always told me when one door closes, another opens. I’m coming out of this a better man, a better basketball player, a better person, period… Whatever happens, I gave it my all from start to finish.”
All three players have had strong camps, according to Lewenberg (Twitter link). While many teams will set their rosters by Saturday, the Raptors could wait until Monday if they want, since Dekker, Wainright, and Bonga all have partial guarantees. That means their cap hits would remain unchanged if they don’t clear waivers until after the regular season begins, unlike a player on a non-guaranteed deal, who must be waived by Saturday for a team to avoid incurring a small cap charge.
Here’s more on the Raptors:
- Appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio on Tuesday, head coach Nick Nurse said that Pascal Siakam (shoulder) is starting contact work this week and may only be a few weeks away from returning, while big man Chris Boucher (finger) is about 10 days away (Twitter link via Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca).
- With Siakam sidelined to start the season and Kyle Lowry no longer a Raptor, the team is grooming OG Anunoby to be a centerpiece of its offense, writes Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “He’s our number one option right now,” Fred VanVleet said of his teammate. “He’s been great, he’s been assertive finding his spots, I think me and him are finding a little bit of rhythm together, so it’s good to see.”
- Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca takes a look at the battle between Goran Dragic and Gary Trent Jr. for the second starting spot in the backcourt alongside VanVleet, suggesting Dragic appears to have the upper hand.
- John Hollinger of The Athletic didn’t love the terms of the Raptors’ free agent contracts with Trent and Khem Birch, but praised the team for getting Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk on a minimum-salary deal. Hollinger projects the team to finish with a 40-42 record, good for ninth in the East.