Ronald Roberts won’t be with the Toronto Raptors as they look to bring home a Las Vegas Summer League title in July. Instead, the D-League All-Star will be suiting up with the Milwaukee Bucks, Raptors Republic has learned.
Gery Woelfel first reported that Roberts had agree to a deal with the Bucks, but sources tell Raptors Republic that no agreement has been reached, in part because such deals can’t be made until July. At that point, it’s possible Roberts could land a guarantee from the Bucks similar to last summer, when the Raptors guaranteed him a reported $75,000 to participate in summer league and training camp, and to compete for a roster spot.
For now, Roberts is simply playing for the Bucks’ Vegas squad.
The annual summer tournament takes place July 8-18 this year, and a handful of players will be signed to non- or partially guaranteed deals over the coming weeks to help fill out those rosters. The larger signing boom will come afterward, as teams scramble to lock down those who impressed to training camp deals, either with a chance to make the main roster or to become a D-League affiliate player after training camp.
In the case of Roberts, this would appear to be Step One in finally pushing his way to an overdue NBA opportunity.
Unquestionably the best player on Raptors 905 this season, Roberts was limited by injury, preventing him from that long overdue NBA call-up. He’s got nothing left to prove at the D-League level, so Summer League may simply be a chance for him to show that he’s healthy coming off of a PRP injection in his knee. That injury was particularly disappointing for Roberts, who spent the entire D-League season knocking on the NBA’s door and seemed to be close to a call-up at several points. At one point ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the league, Roberts eschewed overseas opportunities before the season and overtures from Maccabi Tel Aviv during the year in order to remain close to the NBA, where he spent two days during the 2014-15 season but never got into a game. He stood as one of the D-League’s best rebounders and energy players, and had spent the season displaying refined skill and finesse on offense.
In 24 games, he averaged 18.1 points on 61.7-percent shooting, while adding 12.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1.5 blocks. It was his second consecutive season dominating the paint in the D-League, as he averaged 17.5 points and 11.9 rebounds the season prior, too. The lack of a call-up was almost astonishing, given his production, and it wasn’t based solely on athleticism, either. While the 6-foot-8 Roberts is an obscene athlete, he’s also greatly improved his footwork and patience in the post, made strides as a passer, and extended his range out close to the 3-point line (he even hit a corner three in the All-Star Game). He’s also a steady defender in a man-to-man or help scenario, and no (current) D-Leaguer boasts a better rebounding resume. The 905 outscored opponents by 20.1 points per-100 possessions with Roberts on the floor, a far cry from their minus-2.1 PPC mark overall.
The Raptors organization had probably hoped to keep him in the fold, and they’ll own his D-League rights if he winds up there again, but they had no recourse to keeping him in-house for the summer beyond offering him a better deal or opportunity than Milwaukee. In any case, the skater-turned-baller should be on the radar for any numbers of teams if he doesn’t ultimately land a deal with the Bucks. He’s still just 24 and the Raptors organization will surely speak highly of him to any other franchises who inquire. He’s also an NBA talent, and considering the knee, which didn’t have any structural damage, is a concern of the past, he may be a good tournament away from finally locking down an NBA gig his game is ready for.