Photo credit: MattAzevedo.com
Any thought that being waived by the New Orleans Pelicans this week could lead to a Raptors 905 return for Axel Toupane have been put to rest. Toupane has signed with BC Zalgiris Kaunas of the Lithuanian league, the team announced Thursday.
The timing of the move is a bit surprising, as it seemed like Toupane would have had numerous training camp invites from NBA teams. He probably would have had two-way contract offers, too. But leaving money on the table to once again try to edge on to an NBA roster may not have sat well with him after two consecutive G-League seasons (though he earned about $272,000 during that time), and he’ll surely be paid well on his one-and-one deal in Lithuania. Accepting a two-way deal would have capped him at an estimated $271,000 for this year, while a camp invite may not have guaranteed him much at all. It’s hard to fault a player for jumping on a contract offer early, and Toupane may have wanted some stability after playing for three different NBA teams and the 905 over the last two seasons.
Still just 25, Toupane should figure prominently for Zalgiris. Before coming to the G-League, Toupane was a steady reserve in the French league, and he’s improved leaps and bounds in the time since. He’ll join a team coming off of one of their best seasons ever, with an LKL championship and an appearance in Euroleague. Zalgiris are coached by legendary Lithuanian point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius, and Toupane will play alongside notable names like Dee Bost and Brandon Davies.
While it my not have been all that realistic to expect Toupane back for a third tour of duty with the 905, the news continues to thin them out in an official capacity. Here’s a look at their rights sheet at present:
They’ll also have regular access to Malcolm Miller and Lorenzo Brown, the Raptors’ pair of two-way players, any NBA assignees, and potentially Kennedy Meeks and any other Exhibit 10 contracts the Raptors bring in for camp.