Raptors: Waiving Freddie Gillespie had to happen after bad preseason

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Freddie Gillespie #55 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Freddie Gillespie #55 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors ended their preseason with a very impressive victory against the Washington Wizards, and that game was of extra significance to players like Freddie Gillespie, Sam Dekker, and Isaac Bonga, as these non-guaranteed players were fighting for space on the Opening Night roster.

Gillespie looked like a lock to secure one of those final spots, as he averaged 5.6 points and 4.9 rebounds during his cameo with the team last year and could’ve used his size to help Toronto secure the paint on defense. Unfortunately for the former Baylor stud, he has been a huge disappointment through Summer League and the preseason.

With players like Dekker putting on a fabulous offensive performance and Bonga showing that he can impact the game as an on-ball defender and passer, this poor stretch could not have come at a worse time for No. 55. Nick Nurse needed to get the best 17 players possible on the roster, and Gillespie was not one of them.

The Raptors waived Gillespie and another young big man in Reggie Perry, leaving Bonga, Wainright, and Dekker to fight for the two remaining vacant spots. While Perry, a 2020 second-round pick of the Nets, will likely be headed to Raptors 905, it’s unclear what the next steps are for Gillespie, as the Grizzlies own his G League rights.

It would’ve been very hard to keep him on the roster after a showing like that in the preseason.

The Toronto Raptors parted ways with Freddie Gillespie.

Gillespie looked like he had no idea what he was doing in Summer League play. Despite the fact he rarely ventures out of the paint on either end of the floor, he made just 22.7% of his shots and averaged around four fouls per game in just over 17 minutes of action. Gillespie looked rattled and never seemed to regain his confidence.

In five preseason games, Gillespie averaged 1.0 points and 2.8 rebounds per game on 33% shooting. With Bonga showing his defensive skills, Wainright’s two-way versatility, and Dekker’s hot shooting, that performance is simply not good enough to convince Nurse he should stick around.

The Raptors might be thin on frontcourt depth, especially with Pascal Siakam and Chris Boucher on the mend, but the likes of Scottie Barnes and Precious Achiuwa were exceptional in the preseason, and their showing made it less of a necessity to keep a center like Gillespie on the back end of the roster.

If he wants to make the NBA again, Gillespie needs to overhaul and improve his interior finishing.

This shouldn’t be the end of Gillespie’s basketball journey in North America, as he has plenty of positive traits to work with from a developmental point of view. Still, if Nick Nurse wanted to reward solid preseason play with a roster spot, there is no way he could’ve justified keeping Gillespie from a meritocratic point of view.

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