Sam Dekker

Turkey May Be Next Stop For Sam Dekker

Sam Dekker, who began the season with the Raptors, is expected to sign with Bahcesehir in the Turkish League, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

The 27-year-old forward was on Toronto’s opening night roster, but he was waived in early November before his contract became fully guaranteed. He got into one game and played just one minute during his time with the Raptors.

The move would mark a return to Turkey for Dekker, who played for Turk Telecom during the 2020/21 season. He also spent a season in Russia during his time away from the NBA.

Dekker was selected by the Rockets with the 18th pick in the 2015 draft. After two years in Houston, he was traded to the Clippers in the Chris Paul deal, then had short stays with the Cavaliers and Wizards. He appeared in 201 NBA games, averaging 5.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per night.

Raptors Notes: Dekker, Bonga, Siakam, Barnes

The Raptors‘ decision to waive Sam Dekker came down to Isaac Bonga having more of the qualities that the organization values, writes Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. Both players were signed to partially guaranteed deals and had agreed to delay their guarantee dates until today, but keeping both would have inhibited Toronto’s ability to get below the luxury tax threshold.

Dekker improved his outside shot while playing in Turkey last season, but Bonga is 6’8″ with a 7-foot wingspan and can play several positions. At 21, he’s five-and-a-half years younger than Dekker and may be a better investment for the future. Even though Dekker only got into one game for the Raptors, coach Nick Nurse said it wasn’t an easy choice on which player to keep.

“It was pretty close all the way,” Nurse said. “Isaac probably just kind of filled the role that we want. He’s got size, he’s kind of a versatile defender, he’s on the offensive glass. He’s kind of a real role-playing guy that we think we can throw in there at any time. He’s good enough to get into games right now, to be honest with you, but we can’t play everybody. … We were real close on it. Sam was awesome. He spent a lot of time with us from the moment, all the way back from when we first looked at him in the sort-of open run situation, and he spent a lot of time working the job. But it’s the tough side of it, man. Tough side. Sorry to see him go.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • Bonga has only played seven total minutes this season, but the Raptors believe he can handle a rotation spot, Murphy adds. He got consistent playing time during his two years with the Wizards, and Toronto identified him as a low-cost target in free agency. Murphy believes the best move for Bonga is to get consistent playing time in the G League, but he and the players union would have to sign off on the move because he’s in his fourth NBA season.
  • Pascal Siakam is ready for his season debut Sunday after recovering from shoulder surgery and he likes what he has seen from the Raptors in their 6-4 start, per Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. “I wanted to be out there throughout the whole process,” he said, “but I’m excited to be back out there and just be with your teammates and do whatever I can to help.”
  • Friday’s game with the Cavaliers featured a matchup between two early favorites for Rookie of the Year, and both Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley looked like worthy candidates, according to Steven Loung of Sportsnet.ca. While scoring has a major effect on the voting, Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff notes that Barnes and Mobley are special because of what they provide on defense. “Both of those guys are uniquely framed,” he said, “they’re mobile and agile and it gives them an opportunity to be impactful defensively.”

Raptors Waive Sam Dekker

NOVEMBER 6: The team has officially waived Dekker, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Bonga’s $1.67MM contract has been fully guaranteed, Lewenberg adds.


NOVEMBER 5: The Raptors are waiving forward Sam Dekker, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. Dekker was on a partially guaranteed deal, so he will still earn $350K, the guaranteed portion of his contract.

Dekker had been in a battle with Isaac Bonga for the 14th spot on the roster. Both players previously agreed to push back their guarantee date to November 6.

Dekker only appeared in one regular season game for the Raptors, logging one minute, though he had some nice performances in the preseason. He last played in the NBA in 2018/19, having spent the past two seasons playing in Europe.

The move allows the Raptors to stay under the luxury tax threshold, as was mentioned in our previous articles.

Assuming he clears waivers, Dekker will become an unrestricted free agent.

As for Bonga, it’s unclear if the Raptors intend to guarantee his minimum salary for 2021/22. It’s possible the two sides could agree to push his guarantee date back. He could even be waived too, though the team would have to get back up to 14 players within two weeks in that scenario. For now, his spot on the roster at least appears safer than Dekker’s.

Atlantic Notes: Thybulle, Walker, Noel, Dekker, Birch, Trent

Matisse Thybulle is the latest Sixers player placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey. Tobias Harris was placed under the protocols on Monday and Isaiah Joe was added to the list on Thursday. The entire team was tested for the virus before Thursday’s game against the Pistons and everyone else produced a negative test.

Thybulle, whose locker is next to Joe’s, was placed in protocols for contact tracing. That could leave the Sixers will just eight available players for Saturday’s game against Chicago due to protocols, injuries and Ben Simmons‘ situation.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks point guard Kemba Walker has scored a total of nine points over the last two games and admits he needs to step up his play, particularly at the start of games, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Walker has shot 4-for-19 from the field in those games. “I have to get my guys going. I take ownership of that,” he said. “That’s who I can be. I have to do a better job at that. I have to be ready to start the game better.’’
  • With Nerlens Noel back in action for the Knicks, he notes that there’s always a shot-blocking presence when he shares the center spot with Mitchell Robinson, Berman relays in a separate story. “Me and Mitch do similar things but we do it different ways,” Noel said. “So I bring what I bring — being aggressive on the pick-and-rolls, hedging out and getting guys uncomfortable, as well as protecting the rim. Mitch brings what he brings with his size and physicality. … We want to get to the level of having two Twin Towers back and holding down the paint.’’ Noel returned this week after recovering from knee and hamstring injuries.
  • The Raptors decided to waive Sam Dekker before his $1.7MM contract became fully guaranteed on Saturday. That leaves the club $618,540 below the luxury tax, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. That has an added benefit, since tax distribution for teams below the line projects to be $13MM, Marks adds. That estimate figures to change by the end of the season as more projected taxpayers look to duck below the tax line or reduce their bills.
  • During the offseason, the Raptors re-signed Khem Birch on a three-year contract and did the same with Gary Trent. Thus far, both players are living up their deals, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports writes. “I always told myself if I ever got the opportunity, I would take advantage of it,” Birch said. “So now that I got a contract, I don’t think it’s time to rest. I think it’s time to take advantage of that and also prove myself.”

Early NBA Salary Guarantee Dates For 2021/22

There are currently 30 players on standard NBA contracts whose 2021/22 salaries aren’t yet fully guaranteed. In most cases, those players will receive their full guarantees if they remain under contract through January 7. Because the league-wide salary guarantee date is January 10, a player must clear waivers before that date if a team wants to avoid being on the hook for his full salary.

A handful of players have earlier trigger dates, however. Those players will receive either full guarantees or an increased partial guarantee on certain dates before January 7.

These dates are fairly malleable — if a player and team reach an agreement, they can be pushed back. The Raptors took that route with Isaac Bonga and Sam Dekker, for example. Both players were originally on track to have their full minimum-salary contracts for 2021/22 become guaranteed if they made the team’s opening-night roster. However, they agreed to push their guarantee dates back a few weeks, to November 6.

Those agreements between a player and team aren’t always reported right away, so our list of early salary guarantee dates is a tentative one, based on information from Basketball Insiders, Spotrac, and HoopsHype, as well as our own data.

Here are the salary guarantee dates to watch prior to January 7:

November 6:

  • Isaac Bonga (Raptors): Partial guarantee ($250,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,729,217).
  • Sam Dekker (Raptors): Partial guarantee ($350,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,789,256).

December 1:

  • Chimezie Metu (Kings): Partial guarantee ($881,398) increases to full guarantee ($1,762,796).

December 11:

  • PJ Dozier (Nuggets): Partial guarantee ($400,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,910,860).

December 15:

  • DeAndre’ Bembry (Nets): Partial guarantee ($750,000) increases to larger partial guarantee ($1,250,000).
  • Kenrich Williams (Thunder): Partial guarantee increases to full guarantee ($2,000,000).
    • Note: Williams’ partial guarantee is based on a salary of about $11,494 per day. For instance, 30 days into the regular season, he’ll have earned $344,828.

Raptors Notes: Dragic, Dekker, Bonga, Achiuwa, Barnes

The Raptors are on a four-game winning streak, but Goran Dragic has been a DNP-CD in all four games, raising questions about his place on the roster. While the veteran point guard clearly isn’t a long-term keeper for the Raptors, there’s no indication that he’ll be traded or bought out anytime soon, writes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.

As Grange explains, it’s too early in the season for any real trade market to develop for Dragic, and it’s unlikely that either the player or the team wants to make significant concessions in a buyout arrangement.

For now then, the two sides remain in an “amicable” holding pattern, says Grange — Dragic will remain on the roster as a respected veteran and talented backup, and his situation will be revisited closer to the February trade deadline.

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • Within the same story, Grange says the Raptors seem likely to cut either Sam Dekker or Isaac Bonga in the coming days. Both players’ salaries for 2021/22 will become guaranteed if they remain on the roster through November 6 and Toronto can duck under the luxury tax line by waiving one or the other. Dekker and Bonga have played a combined eight total minutes this season, and would be pushed further down the depth chart once Pascal Siakam and Yuta Watanabe return from their respective injuries.
  • Precious Achiuwa was one of the Raptors’ key offseason acquisitions, but the young center has experienced some growing pains so far this season. As Eric Koreen of The Athletic writes, head coach Nick Nurse benched Achiuwa in favor of backup center Khem Birch to open the second half of the team’s win over the Knicks on Monday. Although Birch doesn’t have Achiuwa’s upside, the veteran has exhibited better fundamentals, playing solid team defense, setting screens, and rebounding.
  • Rookie forward Scottie Barnes will miss a second straight game on Wednesday vs. Washington due to a right thumb sprain, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

Salary Guarantee Dates For Raptors’ Dekker, Bonga Pushed To Nov. 6

Raptors forwards Sam Dekker and Isaac Bonga earned spots on the team’s opening-night roster, but their minimum salaries won’t become fully guaranteed quite yet. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), both players have agreed to push back their salary guarantee dates to November 6. The two contracts were originally set to become guaranteed today.

Players whose contracts are non-guaranteed are typically paid by the day until their guarantee date, but Dekker has a $350K partial guarantee on his full-season salary of $1,789,256, while Bonga’s $1,729,217 salary includes a partial guarantee of $200K. That means the first 20 days of Bonga’s season are already covered by his partial guarantee, while Dekker’s partial guarantee covers the first 35 days of the season.

It’s perhaps no coincidence that November 6 is the 19th day of the NBA season, meaning the Raptors won’t be on the hook for any extra money for either Dekker or Bonga up until that date. If either player is waived on November 6, he’d still just be owed the amount of his partial guarantee. In essence, Toronto is extending the competition for the 14th roster spot by another few weeks.

It’s possible the Raptors could opt to keep both Dekker and Bonga beyond November 6, fully guaranteeing both of their salaries for 2021/22. However, it seems somewhat unlikely, since doing so would put the team over the tax line, as Marks notes (via Twitter).

Additionally, as Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca observes (via Twitter), the Raptors hope to have a healthier roster by early November. Yuta Watanabe (calf) and Chris Boucher (finger) may be back by that point, with Pascal Siakam (shoulder) getting closer to a return. That would reduce the need to carry a 15th man.

Dekker, a 2015 first-round pick who has been out of the NBA since the end of the 2018/19 season, spent time in Russia and Turkey before getting an opportunity with Toronto. Bonga signed with the Raptors this summer after spending his first three seasons with the Lakers and Wizards. He started 49 games for Washington in 2019/20, but saw his role cut back significantly last season.

Raptors Waive Ishmail Wainright

The Raptors have placed Ishmail Wainright on waivers, according to Blake Murphy of Sportsnet (Twitter links). That could clear the way for Sam Dekker and Isaac Bonga to make the team’s 15-man roster, though the final roster deadline isn’t until Monday.

Wainwright, 27, had been playing overseas since going undrafted out of Baylor in 2017. Murphy expects other teams to have interest in Wainwright because of his versatility on defense.

Dekker, a 2015 first-round pick, has been out of the league since the end of the 2018/19 season. He spent time in Russia and Turkey before getting an opportunity with Toronto.

Bonga signed with the Raptors as an unrestricted free agent this summer after the Wizards opted not to give him a qualifying offer. The 2018 second-round pick started 49 of 66 games in 2019/20, averaging 5.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 18.9 MPG. His playing time dropped dramatically this past season, as he played in 40 games (eight starts) and posted modest stats (2.0 PPG, 1.7 RPG in 10.8 MPG).

Toronto will take on some dead money for Wainright if he goes unclaimed on waivers, since he had some partial guarantees on his minimum-salary contract. He’s owed $250K this season and $125K in 2022/23.

Dekker and Bonga have partial guarantees too, but their salaries for 2021/22 will reportedly become fully guaranteed if they make the opening-night roster. If the Raptors want to avoid locking in both of those cap hits, they could still decide to cut one of them before Monday’s deadline.

Raptors Notes: Roster Battle, Siakam, Boucher, Anunoby

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.

Atlantic Notes: Watanabe, Gillespie, Schroder, Williams, Maxey

The Raptors have 12 players with guaranteed contracts and five others with non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed deals. Eric Koreen of The Athletic speculates on who might grab the remaining roster openings, with Yuta Watanabe and Freddie Gillespie most likely to nail down spots. That would leave Sam Dekker, Ishmail Wainright and Isaac Bonga in a battle for the final spot, unless Toronto chooses to carry 14 players on the regular roster.

We have more on the Atlantic Division:

  • Dennis Schroder cost himself serious money but passing on a four-year, $84MM extension offer from the Lakers but he’s taking a lighthearted approach to that mistake, Brianna Williams of ESPN relays. In an Instagram post, the Celtics guard — who settled for a one-year, $5.9MM contract — said he “fumbled the bag” and invited fans to insert their best joke about his bad free agent gamble.
  • Details on Robert Williams‘ extension with the Celtics were reported late last month and now Keith Smith provides more specifics on the incentives in the four-year deal (Twitter link). Williams will make $446,429 if he plays 69 games; an additional $223,215 if the team reaches the conference semifinals along with meeting the games criteria; $223,214 more if the Celtics make the Eastern Conference finals; and $446,429 if he’s named to the league’s All-Defense First Team, or $223,215 if he’s named to the All-Defense Second Team. Those incentives will increase by 8% per year after the deal goes into effect in 2022/23.
  • Would the Sixers benefit from Tyrese Maxey‘s offensive skills in the starting lineup? Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice takes a closer look at whether playing Maxey with the other starters would make Philadelphia a better postseason team in the long run.