Some Toronto Raptors alumni are well-known and beloved by the team’s fanbase, while others are forgotten because of undistinguished play. In the case of Nando de Colo, he falls into the second category.
On February 20, 2014, the Raptors traded Austin Daye to the San Antonio Spurs to acquire de Colo. There was a time when scooping up players that the Spurs didn’t want or need was a great way to start building your roster, as from 1999-2019, the Spurs were perennial playoff contenders and won five NBA Titles.
de Colo would play in 21 games for the Raptors, averaging 3.1 points and 1.6 assists per game. While he was on a playoff team, he didn’t make a huge impact, and he left shortly thereafter.
That summer, the French National returned to Europe. de Colo signed a three-year deal with the Russian club CSKA Moscow of the VTB United League. Against all odds, de Colo’s name surfaced as one of the unlikely heroes of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics
A member of the French men’s Basketball team competing at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, de Colo contributed big time in his countries opening game against Team USA. On a squad that features NBA talent like Rudy Gobert, Evan Fournier, and Nicholas Batum, De Colo running the French team’s offense didn’t look out of place.
In the third quarter, he scored seven straight points giving France a 55-54 lead after team USA held a 45-37 half-time lead. de Colo’s play helped France outscore the US 25-11 in that third quarter en-route to an 83-76 victory. What a story!
Toronto Raptors: Nando de Colo has excelled in the Euro leagues.
De Colo’s time in the NBA was not remarkable, but he has excelled in Europe. In 2015, he was chosen to the All-EuroLeague Second Team, and he was named to the Euro League team of the decade 2010-2020. He helped lead CSKA Moscow to Euro League titles in 2016 and 2019, and was named the Euro League MVP in 2016.
Will De Colo return to the Raptors or the NBA?
At age 34, it’s unlikely de Colo will play in the NBA again especially considering the success and guaranteed playing time he is enjoying in Europe. The Raptors hold restricted Bird rights on de Colo and could offer him a qualifying offer starting at $1.828 million per year.
If de Colo wants to return to the NBA, the Raptors will be able to match any contract offer in a process not unlike restricted free agency.
However, he did sign a three-year deal in 2019 to play with Fenerbache of the Turkish League. There is an option for the third season.
"Nando de Colo will remain with Fenerbahce for a third straight season, the Turkish club announced on Wednesday.De Colo agreed to an one-year extension with Fenerbahce and will be part of the club until the end of the 2021/22 season."
This year in the Euro League, de Colo averaged 27.5 minutes, 15.3 points, 3.9 assists, and shot the three at 40.3%. Unless his stats decline significantly in the coming season, De Colo is the man in Europe.
With three picks in the upcoming draft, a player like Jalen Suggs may be a new Raptors’ asset by Thursday night. He is a point guard. But aside from the draft, the Raptors already have Fred VanVleet and Malachi Flynn under contract at the point guard position.
De Colo, one of Europe’s best players, would merely be an emergency role player in Toronto. Still, if he keeps up this hot play in Tokyo, he might decide to give the NBA one last shot.