Grabbing a nap on the floor rather than the bench.
Grabbing a nap on the floor rather than the bench.

There were some who were surprised when the Toronto Raptors added defensive specialist utility man Dominic McGuire to the roster late in the offseason. As the 15th man under contract, his signing essentially signified the end of the Raptors’ offseason, unless trades or an unexpected waive of a player occurred.

So you can forgive that same group for raising an eyebrow when the Raptors followed that move up by signing Jamaal Magloire to a player contract rather than a coaching contract of some sort, bringing the roster up to 16. The signing meant that, even if it was Magloire just transitioning from the floor to the bench, someone from the group wasn’t going to make the team.

And then, while not an uncommon move for NBA teams, the Raptors signed a 17th and an 18th member to the training camp squad, inking Jerel McNeal and Chris Wright to non-guaranteed deals. These are the standard, likely boiler-plate training camp contracts players sign if they either think they have a chance to make a team with an open roster spot or are resigned to playing in the U.S. for the year and are trying to catch the attention of scouts around the league.

The Candidates
McGuire, most recently of the Golden State Warriors, is without a doubt an NBA caliber player. A solid defender at multiple positions, McGuire is also a good rebounder and facilitator, although his reputation as a zero in the scoring department precedes him just about everywhere. With 316 games of NBA experience with four different teams in just five years, signing with the Raptors may officially make McGuire a journeyman, but one with the tools to remain in that niche role for some time.

Magloire, a Raptor last season as well, is on his last legs as an NBA player. Once an All Star (to the chagrin of some), Magloire was mostly a public relations signing, becoming the first Canadian to play for the Raptors. While still just 34, Magloire hasn’t had an appreciable impact on the floor since 2006-07 with Portland. Magloire was more player-coach than player last season, and some expected him to transition to coaching immediately after last year.

McNeal, a Marquette grad with nine minutes of NBA preseason experience with the Los Angeles Clippers in 2009-10, seemed from the outset to be a longshot to make the team. While the shooting guard depth isn’t sensational, he would have had to pass too many players to make an impact, and his only real chance was outplaying Alan Anderson and convincing the team it was worthwhile to waive Anderson’s 2012-13 contract. Had he gone gangbusters, this was maybe a slight possibility, but it seems he was simply an extra body for practice. For McNeal, coming back to North America after a few seasons abroad, it seems likely he’ll hang around and try to catch on with another team or a D-League affiliate in hopes of being a convenient, relatively experienced, low-cost call-up.

Wright is in a similar situation, but with a potentially brighter outlook given he fit a position of greater need at the small forward spot. Wright also has some more recent and reliable scouting tape, having played 24 games with the Warriors last year and spending the rest of the year dominating in the D-League to the tune of 18-and-9 nightly. Word from camp has also been that Wright seems to be a great human being, for whatever that’s worth.

I feel I should include Quincy Acy and Alan Anderson in this section as well, although their situations appear more clear. Acy, a second round pick, was not thought to be a guarantee to make the club after the draft but was signed to a multi-year deal, effectively sealing his spot. Double-A, who signed a one-year deal after a semi-successful 17-game audition after four years out of the league, seemed relatively assured as well as the last wing, although McGuire’s signing muddied that somewhat.

So with 18 bodies, some thought it would be an interesting preseason in terms of how the minutes would shake out and if there would be competition at the end of the roster. As it is, that hasn’t been the case.

Preseason Minutes
Minutes have been hard to come by for these four men fighting for the 15th roster spot. Anderson and McGuire have received regular run, but Acy and the others have been used sparingly. While the preseason isn’t always a useful looking glass for the season, minutes are an important “stat” for any players on the roster bubble, and can highlight the difference between a practice body and someone in the running for a job.

Game 1
In the first exhibition game against Real Madrid, the Spanish club kept it close until the closing minutes, leaving Dwane Casey to use his main rotation players more than I expected for the first outing. While McGuire logged a busy nine minutes (two rebounds, an assist, a block, a turnover and three fouls) and Double-A played 14 (with seven points on 2/7 shooting with an assist), Acy saw just 19 seconds at the tail end of the game. Acy was a star compared to McNeal, Wright and Magloire though, who all kept their warmups on for the duration of the contest.

Game 2
The first of two against the Pistons saw Casey go 14-deep with his rotation, including all of the anticipated regulars except an injured Kyle Lowry. Anderson again played 14 minutes (8-3-3 with two turnovers and a foul) and McGuire logged eight (three assists, two steals, a rebound and a turnover). Acy saw four minutes of action, chipping in with a block and a foul, while Magloire, Wright and McNeal all remained in their cute little track suits.

Game 3
The second game against the Pistons was more of the same, although this time Acy kept his buddies Magloire and Wright company on the bench for all 48 minutes. Anderson stayed on the floor for 27 minutes (9-5-1 with a steal, two turnovers and a foul), while McGuire actually sat the entirety of the game. Jerel McNeal saw his first action, grabbing six minutes of spot duty with a pair of assists, a foul and a turnover, missing his only shot attempt.

Game 4
Aaron Gray joined the regulars with the night off for this game against the Wizards, keeping Acy, Magloire, Wright and McNeal company and leaving just McGuire and Anderson to grab minutes. Anderson played 13 (5-2-1 with two fouls and three steals) while McGuire played 11 (two points, two assists and a block).

Game 5
Ed Davis got the night off due to some soreness but it didn’t clear a path for Magloire or Acy, who remained glued to the wood. McNeal and Wright also sat, once again leaving just Double-A and McGuire to compete, potentially for an active roster spot, even. Anderson tallied 14 more minutes (4-3-1 with two fouls and a turnover) while McGuire played seven (two points, an assist and two turnovers).

Prognosis
With two games remaining and the regulars all relatively healthy, the time may have passed for any of the players other than Anderson and McGuire to make an impact. In the final preseason tune-up on Friday, Coach Casey may throw McNeal and Wright a bone and give them a few minutes, thus allowing them to showcase themselves while also protecting the rotation players for the regular season.

It seems pretty evident how the end of the roster is going to work out at this time, unless there are some surprises between now and the opener on Halloween. It seems likely that Wright and McNeal will be cut, perhaps with an invitation to join the Raptors’ D-League affiliate in Bakersfield (the Raptors would not have a claim to either player, but could keep them “in the family,” so to speak, in case a roster spot opened up and they had yet to be scooped up by another team). And it seems a near certainty that Magloire will “officially” retire and join the team as an assistant coach in some capacity.

As for the others, logic would hold that Acy will be sent to the D-League so that he can get playing time rather than being just a practice body. The Raptors utilized this option with Solomon Alabi at times last year, although they haven’t always been aggressive in this regard, probably since they share an affiliate with other teams (and therefore don’t have direct control over minutes, coaching, system, etc). With that said, it seems a better route for Acy’s development.

McGuire and Anderson, then, appeared tagged for duty on the inactive list, since you can only dress 12 of your 15 players on a given night. Even though both have seen appreciable playing time in the preseason, it seems unlikely either has usurped one of the 12 players ahead of them for the time being. They will be there in the event that injuries strike, and it’s perhaps possible that Anderson could be called on in the event an extra shooter is required one night, or McGuire if there is a particularly tough defensive matchup on the wing.

A lot can happen over the course of the season, so a D-League assignment or a spot on the inactive list is anything but a death knell. Instead, these are just how the roster battle appears to break down at this moment in time.

Potential Roster Breakdown
Starters: Lowry, DeRozan, Fields, Bargnani, Johnson/Valanciunas
Rotation: Calderon, Johnson/Valanciunas, Davis, Ross/Kleiza
Bench: Gray, Lucas, Kleiza/Ross
Inactive List: McGuire, Anderson
D-League: Acy
Waived: Wright, McNeal
Coaching but ready to play: Magloire, Boogie Williams


  • Changv10

    Lucas will definitely make the rotation. 
    Kleiza was not playing well … significantly worse than before.  Casey said he’d give more minutes to Fields in the regular season (thankfully). 

  • Andre

    is Aaron gray really that good? I would love to see them rotate McGuire, Anderson and Grey depending on the match ups that night. 

    • Sheptor

       You could do far worse than Gray. Anderson will see some limited burn as will McGuire but Gray will see more as our only big bodied center. If Jonas fouls early, and also Amir who can pick up quick ones, then all of sudden you`re playing them with foul trouble or moving Bargs or Davis over if Gray is in street clothes.

      • Destro

        You cant do much worse actually…

  • http://twitter.com/lgsshedden L. Graham Smith

    I think Gray dresses and is #12 to be used when fouls and big bodies dictate.
    I am not so sure about Anderson: he has looked good pre-season and may get into the rotation ahead of either Ross or Kleiza — Macquire has also done well as the defensive stopper in last 2 minutes role (aka Caron Butler role).
    Upshot is, both Linus and Ross will have to earn playing time, rather than is being a given based on their contract i.e. draft pick and FA — be interesting to see if Casey has that clout over the team now: if he does, the Raptors will be a better team because of it.

  • Brain Colangelo

    For what it’s worth, I hope we keep McGuire over AA.  AA seems to be a low-rent version of Kleiza and Ross and has no reason to be on the roster when those guys are not likely to get more than 20 mins between them most night. 

    McGuire has a role as a lock-down wing defender who can (give an honest attempt to) defend the many big and talented SFs in our division (LeBron, Pierce, Melo) and elswhere in the East.

    • why

      Don’t know that much about him – didn’t Antoine Wright and Julian Wright have the same rep when they joined The Raptors? I believe neither is in the NBA.

      • Blasterfi9

        Umm, lets see from what i rmbr antoine was ight… and Julian was genuinely good i don’t know what happened there jay juss kept him glued even though he did fine in the minutes he got, and was good defensively, and competent on offense. Even he got frustrated that he was getting shoved aside to the point that he got in trouble for bad behavior.

      • Brain Colangelo

        Both were goofs.  Antoine was fake tough and a malcontent and Jules was a poet/philosopher and a malcontent and, most importantly, both were too small to check the three guys I noted above. 

        In any event, only one of the above was in the East when those guys were Raps. 

        As a sidebar, the size and athleticism of opposing wings in the East had me surprised that we let James Johnson go – he must have really proved to Casey that he did not have the head for playing high-level defence.  JJ was a favourite of mine and I was dissapointed to see him exit. 

        • EmarErozan

          Erik koreen:

          That is not the Raptors’ concern. With the absence of such a supernova wing player, the Raptors brought in Dominic McGuire on a non-guaranteed contract. He will likely make the team, in no small part because of the shift to small: You need a player that can plausibly run with those players on the wing and muscle up with them in the paint.

          “I don’t think anybody’s going to stop Carmelo or LeBron,” Casey said. “But we’ve got some people who can stay in front of them and contain them and give some resistance.

          “[McGuire] is a tough guy. He talks on defence. He takes pride in guarding his position. He’s a utility guy. A guy like that can have a long career in the league, doing that, guarding [shooting guards, small forwards or power forwards] and taking pride in it. He cannot play a whole game and come in and then … give us some valuable minutes.”

          Every team needs a Swiss Army Knife, at least for defensive purposes.

    • Nilanka15

      I mentioned this in a previous article, but I think I may like Anderson over Kleiza.

      Kleiza’s contract would keep him dressed most nights, but in terms of preseason play so far, Kleiza hasn’t impressed one bit.

      • Brain Colangelo

        Maybe that’s because Kleiza has played in the NBA before, knows he’s not going to lose his job to a one-dimensional journeyman chucker, and is using pre-season to get into shape?

        • Destro

          You described Kleiza tho…kleiza is a one dimensional chucker whos never been more than a 6th man in his career and never will be…

          • Brain Colangelo

            Don’t get me wrong, Kleiza is by no means a good player.  Just good enough to not worry about Allen Anderson.

            Kleiza is a chucker who rebounds and can exploit mismatches on offence.  AA is only a chucker.

      • what the

        what about your boy gary forbes? aka future all-star

        • CJT

          What about moving to the right calendar year?

          • Nilanka15

            ….or moving out of his made-up dream world.

  • why

    Ideally your 10th, 11th, 12th players are professional and prepared when called upon to play so while they might not win games for you, they also don’t lose games for you – examples from The Raptors recent past would be Derrick Martin, Rasho, and perhaps even Marcus Banks.

    I think AA and AG fit this mold.

  • Vlado

    I would never give minutes to LK before AA. I’m not saying that AA is a true rotation player but he certainly seems better than Klieza right now.

    Lowry/Calderon
    DeRozan/Ross
    Fields/AA
    Bargnani/Davis
    Valanciunas/Johnson

    Lucas will get minutes playing the 1 and 2 with Calderon or Lowry in the second unit until Jose is finally traded. I also think that Casey will keep McGuire active most night for his defense. 

  • cesco

    Off topic , NBA.com posted the GM’s survey ( they do that every year ) . Jonas is the only Rap to get a top mention by being elected by the GM’s as the ‘ The international player most likely to have a breakout year ‘ . KL , TR , Quincy got some votes in other categories but not top 3 votes .

    nba.com/news/2012-13-gm-survey/index.html

    • cesco

      JV also is #4 in the category ‘ Which rookie will be the best player in five years ‘ after AD ( of course) , Beal and Lillard .

       

  • FAQ

    BC will keep Kleiza to help JonasV should he get ‘homesick’ … and Lithuanian countryman Kleiza will help him through his NBA puberty pains…. unless JonasV brings  his mother to Canada….

    • cesco

      I thought JV had a beautiful blonde GF at his table on lottery night . You think he prefer his mother company to his GF’s ? .

      • ZZ

         That was the other JV, Jan Vesely

      • FAQ

        A mother’s presence cures ‘homesickness’.. because she can cook up his favourite food, wash his clothes, makes his bed up, wipe his tears away after losing games night after night.

        What can a GF do for him except weaken him..??!!!

  • Philoveritas

    +1. Kleiza is there to act as an interpreter to Valancuinas in the huddle and to be the veteran mentor to help Jonas transition to the NA game.

    • Nilanka15

      Not buying it.  I have yet to see Jonas even sitting beside Kleiza, let alone see one interpreting for the other.  Jonas’ English is just fine.  Kleiza really doesn’t provide this team with anything unique.

  • BlakeMurphy

    For those of you watching tonight’s preseason contest and wondering – T-Ross is out with the flu. Not in the building. I’m covering the game and will pop in here occasionally if we want to maybe turn this thread into a game thread, like the usual pre-game posts in the regular season.

  • BlakeMurphy

    Wright and McNeal have been waived.

  • Otty

    JV will make Bargs better, not just because he opens up space and draws attention, but because he will show him up with hustle. I know its preseason, but you can sense that these guys wanna win, and playing soft isnt going to be tolerated. On top of that, im sick of the word “swag” because its worn out, but Lowry has that, and you can see he challenges the rest of them. not only him, the rest of the team seems to be confident.

    • Nilanka15

      Bargs has played with a PLETHORA of teammates who hustle (i.e. Garbajosa, Humphries, MoPete, Parker, Marion, Mensa-Bonsu, Evans, Dorsey, etc.).  Having Jonas around won’t make the slightest lick of difference in that department.  Wishful thinking, my friend.

  • 511

    Nice to see JV’s dunk against the Wiz last week is #2 in top ten dunks of the week on NBA.com. (So, they did see it. Finally.)

  • And one

    Anyone having problem with Nba broadband league ? Raptors matches (last 3) are freezing all times (every 20/30 sec) while others (NYK,Boston/LA) are very smooth streaming.
    I m watching them not live, sent email to Newlion support already