The Toronto Raptors have 12 guaranteed contracts at the moment, though that number will likely increase when Christian Koloko signs his rookie contract. Like last year, Toronto is looking forward to a preseason competition in order to fill out the rest of the roster.
There are four players on partially guaranteed contracts that may have an inside track on making the roster and playing a significant role going forward. Justin Champagnie and Dalano Banton showed flashes in their rookie seasons that will likely earn them one more look.
After both Armoni Brooks and DJ Wilson were cut loose by the Houston Rockets, they found a new home in Toronto. While only two roster spots are available to those four right now, the latest quote from management suggests that Toronto might try to squeeze all of them on the roster.
Head coach Nick Nurse, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN, has recently weighed in on his expectations in particular as it relates to three players all on partially guaranteed contracts. In so doing, he may have hinted at a Raptors’ roster shakeup:
“I would imagine all three of those guys have a really good chance of being on the roster,”
He was referring to the three players: Wilson, Champagnie, and Banton. Brooks can still make an impact in the right role. For all of those players to make the roster and play a significant role on the team going forward, guaranteed contracts will have to be moved to create room.
Will the Toronto Raptors keep their non-guaranteed players?
While the team develops the rim threat and shot-blocking potential of Koloko, Wilson may fill a role as a solid defender. With rebounding potential and a developing three-point shot, Toronto didn’t really have someone with his style of play in the last two seasons.
Banton, a 6-9 point guard, might be at the forefront of the race to be Fred VanVleet’s backup following a strong Summer League showing. A Rexdale native who appeared to be more in command of the offense in Vegas, Banton may have a leg up.
Champagnie is an exceptional rebounder and a player Nurse appears to like. His effort and defense are solid, and he may be a more improved shooter. Brooks remains a firestarter who can get hot at the drop of a hat.
With Svi Mykhailiuk and pro-am superstar Malachi Flynn being very inconsistent in 2022, and 30-year-old Khem Birch in and out of the lineup due to knee problems, the Raptors bench is due for a makeover.
Teams like the Utah Jazz might be willing to take some of Toronto’s excess baggage if they part with a first-round pick. Perhaps a team like the San Antonio Spurs will look to be up their week bench by taking some of these guaranteed deals off the Raptors’ hands.
Doing so would create room for Banton, Wilson, Champagnie, and Brooks to all coexist.
Whatever decision Raptors’ management makes, a front-of-mind concern has to be creating a reliable, complete roster. The Raptors’ 2022 season might have been more satisfying if they had the “next man up” mentality that existed around their bench in 2020.
Management now needs to make the right decisions on who stays and who goes if the team is to improve on its win total from 2022 and make more of an impact in next year’s playoff battles.