The Raptors‘ decision to waive Sam Dekker came down to Isaac Bonga having more of the qualities that the organization values, writes Blake Murphy of SportsNet. Both players were signed to partially guaranteed deals and had agreed to delay their guarantee dates until today, but keeping both would have inhibited Toronto’s ability to get below the luxury tax threshold.
Dekker improved his outside shot while playing in Turkey last season, but Bonga is 6’8″ with a 7-foot wingspan and can play several positions. At 21, he’s five and a half years younger than Dekker and may be a better investment for the future. Even though Dekker only got into one game for the Raptors, coach Nick Nurse said it wasn’t an easy choice on which player to keep.
“It was pretty close all the way,” Nurse said. “Isaac probably just kind of filled the role that we want. He’s got size, he’s kind of a versatile defender, he’s on the offensive glass. He’s kind of a real role-playing guy that we think we can throw in there at any time. He’s good enough to get into games right now, to be honest with you, but we can’t play everybody. … We were real close on it. Sam was awesome. He spent a lot of time with us from the moment, all the way back from when we first looked at him in the sort-of open run situation, and he spent a lot of time working the job. But it’s the tough side of it, man. Tough side. Sorry to see him go.”
There’s more from Toronto:
- Bonga has only played seven total minutes this season, but the Raptors believe he can handle a rotation spot, Murphy adds. He got consistent playing time during his two years with the Wizards, and Toronto identified him as a low-cost target in free agency. Murphy believes the best move for Bonga is to get consistent playing time in the G League, but he and the players union would have to sign off on the move because he’s in his fourth NBA season.
- Pascal Siakam is ready for his season debut Sunday after recovering from shoulder surgery and he likes what he has seen from the Raptors in their 6-4 start, per Michael Grange of SportsNet. “I wanted to be out there throughout the whole process,” he said, “but I’m excited to be back out there and just be with your teammates and do whatever I can to help.”
- Friday’s game with the Cavaliers featured a matchup between two early favorites for Rookie of the Year, and both Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley looked like worthy candidates, according to Steven Loung of SportsNet. While scoring has a major effect on the voting, Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff notes that Barnes and Mobley are special because of what they provide on defense. “Both of those guys are uniquely framed,” he said, “they’re mobile and agile and it gives them an opportunity to be impactful defensively.”