Toronto Raptors: Terence Davis’ legal troubles is Matt Thomas’ gain

Toronto Raptors - Matt Thomas (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Matt Thomas (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors signed sharpshooting guard Matt Thomas in 2019 to a three-year deal.  This season, Terence Davis’ legal entanglements could provide a huge opportunity for Matt Thomas.

The police charged Toronto Raptors‘ sophomore guard Terence Davis in New York with domestic violence in late October. The charges are definitely serious and could derail his career just as it’s getting started.

The Toronto Raptors have agreed to support the NBA’s investigation into the matter and take a wait-see approach. For their part, it’s the right move.

Everyone deserves the opportunity to prove themselves innocent of any accusation made against them. If Terence Davis is found guilty or pleads guilty to the charges, the NBA will fine and suspend him, and then the Toronto Raptors could act by severing ties with the player by waiving his contract. Further, the team has spoken to Terence Davis, and he has a scheduled court date for December 11th, 2020.

Terence Davis’ legal woes could be an opportunity in waiting for his teammate Matt Thomas.

Toronto Raptors depth chart at guard

Last season, Matt Thomas and Terence Davis made their debuts for the Toronto Raptors, but Terence Davis distinguished himself. In last season’s opening game for the Toronto Raptors @ New Orleans, a game that went into overtime, Terence Davis was one of the eight Raptors players to compete in that game.

Further, Davis was the only Toronto Raptor to play in all 72 regular season games averaging 16.8 minutes and 7.5 points per game and shot 38.8 percent on three-point shots. In comparison, Matt Thomas managed to play just 41 games averaging 10.7 minutes and 4.9 points a game. He did shoot an efficient 47.5 percent on long-range shots.

Matt Thomas was fifth on the Raptors depth chart after Kyle Lowry, and Fred VanVleet, who started games, and Norman Powell and Terence Davis were big parts of the second unit that head coach Nick Nurse relied on.

Should Terence Davis find himself suspended by the NBA for his conduct, Matt Thomas will be next in line to replace the minutes played vacated by Terence Davis.

Terence Davis’ Expiring Contract with Toronto Raptors

Both Terence Davis and Matt Thomas signed with the Toronto Raptors as free agents in 2019. Terence Davis had a partially guaranteed contract for two years. Management of the Toronto Raptors missed the deadline recently to waive Davis without being held responsible for the 1.5 million he is due this season.

Should it become necessary to remove Davis from the lineup, general manager Bobby Webster would only be handicapping the team’s salary cap flexibility until this coming off-season when Terence Davis’ contract expires anyway.

If Matt Thomas’s defensive play is not up to par, the Raptors could trade Terence Davis’ contract to a team that would waive him just to hold the expiring cap space, and the Toronto Raptors could sign another free agent player (veteran minimum) or a ten-day contract type player.

However, when healthy last season, Matt Thomas made it tough on head coach Nick Nurse to hold him out of the lineup. In a Toronto Sun article, when asked if Thomas’s play had earned him more playing time in February, Nick Nurse responded:

"“Yeah, probably …. I’ve, yeah, probably, I’m just trying to think of, you know, what to say. I think we get into these rotations, I get into these rotations, and the games seem to be going pretty well a lot, you know, when you’re winning, what’d we win, 13 in a row or something like that?"

Matt Thomas made an impression on his coach and needs an opportunity to prove himself.

NBA history of suspending players with domestic violence problems

The NBA has been around since its inception back in 1946. The league has suspended players for many different reasons, including domestic violence. The most recent suspension for domestic violence was imposed on Willie Reed back in 2017 while playing for the Detroit Pistons.

After he missed the first game of the suspension, the Detroit Pistons traded him to the Chicago Bulls for Jameer Nelson on February 8th, 2017.

The Chicago Bulls then immediately waived Reed. As Willie Reed only served one game of a six-game suspension when and if he returns to the NBA, the remainder of the suspension still applies.

If precedent applies, then Terence Davis could face a similar sanction if he is found guilty of the charges against him. Matt Thomas would then have this time to showcase what he is capable of doing in an effort to outplay Davis and move up the team’s depth chart.

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