Justin Champagnie leaves Raptors for Eastern Conference foe

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 31: Justin Champagnie #11 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 31: Justin Champagnie #11 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images /

The Toronto Raptors have turned late first-round picks and undrafted free agents into stars over the last decade, so the idea of 2021 UDFA Justin Champagnie suddenly becoming a long-term contribution wasn’t outlandish. After an impressive rookie season, Champagnie’s contract proved to be the death of him in Toronto.

Champagnie was waived just a few weeks ago, as the Raptors didn’t want to guarantee a seven-figure sum to a player who has spent more time with the G League Raptors 905 than the big league club. After two seasons, his Raptors tenure officially came to an abrupt end.

Champagnie had a reasonably robust market for his services, as his performance in the NBA when called into action as a rookie helped get some eyeballs on the former undrafted free agent from Pitt. He decided to join a team that is simultaneously playing a style of basketball conducive to his skillset and is hellbent on winning now.

Champagnie agreed to join the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the G League affiliate of the rival Miami Heat. The former All-ACC performer could make Toronto look very foolish if his jumper is fixed and he proved to be a more creative offensive player.

Former Toronto Raptors SF Justin Champagnie joined the Miami Heat.

Toronto has already replaced Champagnie’s spot on the roster, signing former Spurs second-rounder and experienced sharpshooter Joe Wieskamp to a 10-day contract. He has not appeared in any games to this point, making it difficult to judge the validity of the signing.

Champagnie has averaged 22.5 points and 10.2 rebounds this season in the G League Showcase Cup, proving that he is already far too talented to stay at this level for an extended period of time. Champagnie has made 36% of his 3-pointers, which was his biggest question mark coming out of college.

Champagnie could not have landed in a better spot, as Miami is one of the few teams in the league that actually comes close to Toronto in terms of how much they prioritize versatile wings. Given the injury problems Miami has dealt with, Champagnie could claw back into the NBA.

While he wasn’t playing a ton of minutes, the decision to cut Champagnie clearly seemed like one motivated by finance more than his performance. He’s shown that he can be a robust backup forward in this league, and Miami might be more willing to give him a long leash.

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