Raptors not signing Jeff Dowtin shows disconnect between Masai Ujiri, Nick Nurse

CLEVELAND, OHIO - FEBRUARY 26: Jeff Dowtin Jr. #20 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OHIO - FEBRUARY 26: Jeff Dowtin Jr. #20 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors appeared to have finally found a backup point guard, as Jeff Dowtin managed to leapfrog two Masai Ujiri draft picks in Malachi Flynn and Dalano Banton while becoming the second unit ball-handler of choice for Nick Nurse and his 40-40 ballclub.

Dowtin ran out of eligibility for the remainder of the regular season and postseason due to the constricting nature placed on him by his two-way contract. Signing Dowtin to a deal seemed like the easiest home run the Raptors could have hit, but the front office managed to foul this situation up.

Michael Grange of Sportsnet confirmed that Dowtin would not have his contract converted, with Toronto not willing to cut a seldom-used benchwarmer like Joe Wieskamp or Thad Young in order to make room for a player that did everything he could to earn a spot in the NBA.

Nurse clearly valued him enough to make him a member of the rotation at the expense of names like Flynn and Young, while Ujiri thinks that a player like Wieskamp, who hasn’t played a minute outside of garbage time in over a month, is more valuable. Ujiri and Nurse are not in lockstep at all, which could make for a very messy offseason.

Jeff Dowtin shows Raptors’ Nick Nurse, Masai Ujiri have a disconnect

Dowtin has averaged a modest 2.4 points and 1.2 assists per game this season, but those numbers don’t tell the whole story of his impact. A tremendous on-ball defender and speedster with the ball, Dowtin’s effort and timely playmaking proved he is a worthy NBA player.

Dowtin may just be a pawn in a power struggle between Nurse and Ujiri. Nurse clearly has trust in Dowtin, but Ujiri is either unmoved by his performances this season or unwilling to compensate him financially. No wonder Nurse might want to leave. 

The Raptors, led by Nurse and Ujiri, have preached a culture of development and hard work to promote their top internal performers. Why is it that when a player like Dowtin plays well, he isn’t afforded that same commitment? Why did Ujiri even sign him to a two-way deal anyway if he knew that roster spot wasn’t opening up?

Let me get this straight. Jeff Dowtin is good enough to be a rotation player, but not good enough to sign over Joe Wieskamp, who is not a rotation player? Taking one of the team’s top reserves out of the mix completely right before the postseason starts is baffling, and it shows that Ujiri and Nurse have entirely different ideas of what is good for the team.

Next. 7 players the Raptors gave up on too soon. dark