Free Agency

Raptors announce signing of Jarrod Uthoff

Making things official.

The Toronto Raptors announced Tuesday that they have signed undrafted forward Jarrod Uthoff.

The news of Uthoff’s signing was reported back on July 21. Go read that to catch up, but here’s some of what we wrote at the time:

Similar to the Fred VanVleet deal, Uthoff’s will likely contain a guarantee in the $25,000-$75,000 range and means he’ll be in training camp with the team. As things stand now, it probably also means he’ll be competing with a handful of players for the team’s 15th roster spot, although plenty can change between now and camp, and the Raptors still have their $2.2-million bi-annual exception to use if there’s a more veteran name they like. As a reminder, the Raptors brought in four players on similar deals last year for a 19-man camp, and teams can go as high as 20 on the roster at any given time. The money is also mostly inconsequential to the Raptors, who are over the cap but aren’t threatening the luxury tax, barring a trade.

And like VanVleet, Uthoff’s a name the Raptors surely liked around draft time. He was among the 59 publicly named players the Raptors brought in to work out before the draft and was the fourth-highest ranked player on our Raptors Republic draft board to go undrafted. While we ranked him 54th, ESPN’s Chad Ford was even higher on him, ranking him 36th, while none of the prominent rankers had him outside of the top 60. In other words, this is a player most felt should have been drafted, even if it was late.

The Raptors surely see him as a potential role player down the line, capable of coming in and spacing the floor while playing solid-to-plus defense. Whether that manifests at the NBA level this season is unclear, and the Raptors would probably be thrilled to have him as an affiliate player with Raptors 905 if he clears waivers and opts not to sign overseas (where his partial guarantee would help supplement the paltry D-League salary).

While he averaged 18.9 points as a senior at Iowa last season, it’s probably the 38.3-percent career mark from long-range and the 1.8 blocks per-game over three seasons as a Hawkeye that stand out to Toronto here. A 6-foot-10 combo-forward with an 6-foot-11.5 wingspan, Uthoff uses his size and athleticism well to guard the small forward position and may be able to rebound well enough to play the four if he can add some size this summer (he’s only 214 pounds). His steal and block rates were strong when adjusting for pace, usually a good harbinger of how defense will translate, and he reads plays intelligently on or off the ball. He could stand to be more physical, which may come with additional bulk, but for now he should be passable, if not solid at that end.

On offense, he has great size for the three-spot or great range for the four, and he has a pretty enough jumper that he could be a plus as a low-usage option. As his role grew at Iowa this year, he also got to work more as a cutter and creating for himself, showing potential to expand his game beyond a catch-and-shoot threat at the NBA level. His turnover rate was also exceptionally low for someone using as many possessions as he did, though again, it’s the 3-point stroke that stands out here, because his handle isn’t terrific and he’s not exceptionally quick.

A First-Team All-Big Ten player and consensus Second-Team All-American, Uthoff also brings the type of off-court maturity the Raptors appreciate (he was the Academic All-American of the Year and a member of the Big Ten All-Defensive team, too).

The addition of Uthoff can probably be viewed a little differently after Monday’s news that Delon Wright will miss upwards of four months. While Uthoff looked like a more natural fit with the current roster balance a week ago, the team may now opt to keep Fred VanVleet for point guard depth. There also remains the chance they use their bi-annual exception (or veteran’s minimum) on a veteran to fill the 15th roster spot.

Uthoff’s deal is a partially guaranteed two-year deal. He’ll get the same $50,000 guarantee that VanVleet is, with the rest of his 2016-17 salary not becoming guaranteed until Jan. 10. Interestingly, Uthoff also has a $100,000 guarantee for 2017-18 if he’s on the roster past July 25 of next summer, whereas VanVleet’s deal becomes fully guaranteed for next year if he’s on the roster past July 20.

Consider Uthoff in the mix for the final roster spot, and failing that, his guarantee would be a nice supplement to a potential D-League salary if he’s willing to go that route and clears waivers.

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