The Toronto Raptors are waiving K.J. McDaniels, according to a report from Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. (The team has since confirmed.)
The move comes as a little bit of a surprise after McDaniels broke camp with the Raptors. With $100,000 guaranteed on his deal, the “cost” of keeping McDaniels was negligible until Oct. 28, when he’d pass that guarantee mark and begin counting for more against the team’s salary cap as they look to duck the luxury tax line. But with a six-game west-coast road-trip about to begin, it makes sense not to bring McDaniels along if the intention was to waive him next week, anyway.
It has to be a disappointing turn for McDaniels, who beat out four others for one of the final two roster spots but was inactive for both regular season games and played sparingly in the preseason. Once an incredibly promising rookie, McDaniels has now played for four teams in parts of four NBA seasons and struggled to rediscover traction. What the next step is for the 24-year-old is unclear – because he earned a guarantee of more than $50,000, he’s ineligible to be made an Affiliate Player with Raptors 905, and his openness to fighting his way back to the NBA via the G-League is unknown. McDaniels could likely make a good living overseas, but the allure of a call-up or 10-day later in the year may be too much to pass up.
By cutting McDaniels now, the Raptors trim their roster to the league minimum of 14 and give themselves a bit of breathing room underneath the luxury tax line and tax apron. I went into greater detail about the financial implications of a move like this last week.
This also comes as big news for Alfonzo McKinnie, who appears to be in the clear for the time being. McKinnie had the same guarantee as McDaniels and could have been the one to be waived, but he had a much stronger preseason and even got into the team’s season opener off the end of the bench. While McDaniels is a bit more of a known commodity, McKinnie possesses a higher upside, particularly if he can consistently knock down the corner three. Adding to that upside is that McKinnie’s deal has a non-guaranteed minimum salary for next season, too, so if the Raptors hit on this bet, they’ll get another cheap season out of it.
The plan for McKinnie from here will include a fair amount of G-League time to help continue his development into a 3-and-D combo-forward. An All-Star as a rookie at that level last year, McKinnie should give the 905 plenty of rebounding and defense, and head coach Jerry Stackhouse will give him as steady a diet of 3-point attempts as he can handle. When McKinnie’s first assignment may come should be clear at some time after this road trip – the 905 don’t open their season until Nov. 5, and the Raptors may want to keep a 14th man around in the event Jonas Valanciunas’ ankle is in rough shape or another injury strikes.
After weeks of speculating, this should be the roster moving forward, at least until the team’s situation dictates an addition is necessary.