Despite the fact that it’s been nearly two months since the Toronto Raptors used the No. 33 overall pick on Arizona center Christian Koloko, he remains unsigned by the team. Koloko is now the only second-round pick who has not been signed by the team who drafted him.
This is not a result of poor performance, as Koloko was one of the best defenders in the Vegas Summer League and profiles as someone who could be an impact player in the NBA. Rather, the ongoing trade discussions regarding Kevin Durant have something to do with Koloko.
Unlike first-round picks, second-round selections don’t have a rigid pay scale, giving teams more flexibility. While No. 32 pick Caleb Houstan and No. 34 pick Jaylin Williams have both signed four-year, $8.2 million contracts, the Raptors don’t have the cap space necessary to sign Koloko to that deal.
The Raptors do have some of their mid-level exception left over from the Otto Porter signing, but using that would trigger the hard cap and make it difficult for them to take on additional salary, like Durant. Essentially, the Raptors won’t sign Koloko until they either acquire Durant or are out of the running.
Why have the Toronto Raptors not signed Christian Koloko?
The biggest deal that Toronto could use to sign Koloko right now is a two-year, $2.7 million contract. Given what other high second-rounders received, there’s no way Koloko would accept that. Using the MLE might be the only way to compensate the Cameroonian big adequately.
If Durant decides to hold out and stretches this into the season, the Raptors will eventually reach a point of no return where they ultimately give Koloko the contract he is looking for. As long as the Raptors remain in the Durant mix following the offseason bluster, they need every dollar available to sweeten the deal for Brooklyn.
Koloko, who is coming off a season in which he won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, has already been ingratiating himself with his future teammates at the Rico Hines runs. It’s still lame for him that he can’t sign his first professional contract because of the NBA’s preposterous salary cap rules.
While Koloko is a raw player, it’s clear to anyone who saw Summer League that he has the tools needed to become a very effective scorer in this league should he be handled properly. The Raptors will eventually get him signed, even if this is a frustrating way to do it.