Another international flop
The 2002-03 season was miserable for the Raptors. After appearing in the NBA Playoffs for three consecutive years, the Raptors would win just 24 games in 2003. Team superstar Vince Carter only played in 43 games due to injuries. Free-agent signing Voshon Leonard who played in 63 games, averaging over 14 points per game, was not enough to help the team continue its playoff streak.
Another free agent signing meant to help was the signing of free agent and international star center Nate Huffman. Huffman had played for Tel Aviv Maccabi from 1999-2002, helping the team win three Israeli Premier League titles. Unfortunately, Huffman passed away in 2015 due to a battle with bladder cancer.
He was signed in July 2002 to a three-year, $5.2 million contract. As seems to be the case with the Toronto Raptors regularly when signing centers, he played in seven games and averaged 3,3 points per game and 3.3 rebounds per game.
Knee problems were the issue, and by January 17th, 2003, the team canceled his contract. In a theglobeandmail.com article, the Toronto Raptors released a statement claiming that Nate Huffman:
"“materially breached [his]contract by failing to disclose material facts regarding his medical condition. Huffman failed to disclose his history of knee problems. Had those injuries been disclosed as required, the club would not have entered into the contract.”"
In the end, Huffman would sue the Raptors and an arbitrator a year later ruled that the Raptors were responsible for his contract. It’s standard practice in the NBA to put a player you are signing or trading for through a physical, making the Raptors position unbelievable.
This is yet another poor contract signing by Grunwald as general manager of the Raptors.