The Toronto Raptors have never been above scouring the free agent market for underperforming assets that could hit their stride with just the right amount of seasoning and coaching. If anyone is in need of such a boost from Nick Nurse, it’s former No. 6 overall pick Jarrett Culver.
After leading Texas Tech to one win shy of a national championship, all of Culver’s confidence seemed to erode away during his tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves. After one year with the Grizzlies, in which he barely played, his pro career was hanging on by a thread.
Culver was linked to the Raptors heavily in the summer, due in part to his frequent appearances in Raptors gear at the Rico Hines runs and Scottie Barnes’ belief that Culver had agreed to a short-term contract. In defiance of all that speculation, Culver has signed with a playoff contender not named Toronto.
Culver agreed to join the Atlanta Hawks on a two-way contract. Considering how Toronto was unable to add Culver without deciding to cut one of the players already on the team, there was no way to add him unless they got creative with a trade or stunned us with a release.
Culver has averaged just 6,6 points per game while making 40% of his shots and 28% of his 3-point attempts. Considering how quickly Minnesota gave up on him, it’s clear that his status within the NBA was not highly regarded. Atlanta, like Toronto would have, is giving him a chance to prove the doubters wrong.
With Ron Harper Jr. and Jeff Dowtin taking up the two-way spots, Culver didn’t have anywhere to go. The Raptors were too enamored by Harper’s scoring to let someone else get the chance to sign him, while Dowtin was so impressive in Summer League that he earned a longer look.
The Raptors apparently decided that one former top-six reclamation project who plays on the wing was too many, as they chose to add No. 4 overall pick Josh Jackson on a non-guaranteed contract. Jackson could have a similar high return if he can get back to his full potential.
While the Raptors may not have ended up signing Culver, Atlanta should be a place where he could compete for some minutes and play a very small part in helping the Hawks make it to the playoffs. Culver getting back on track after a sluggish NBA start could be a feel-good story, even if the setting won’t be Toronto.