The Toronto Raptors have agreed to terms with E.J. Singler, Raptors Republic has learned.
While the deal is yet to be signed, Singler will be in training camp with the Raptors, with a chance to win the 15th roster spot. Failing that, Singler has agreed to head to Raptors 905 of the D-League, should he clear waivers. That’s an important note, as while it’s always the hope with camp invites, they’re not contractually obligated to a D-League season, even if they get a partial guarantee.
While Singler won himself fans in the organization with a strong finish to the D-League season and an impressive performance with the club at Summer League, it was unclear if he’d opt for a camp invite over taking more lucrative overseas opportunities. The contract will likely contain a small guarantee to help supplement a potential D-League salary – Fred VanVleet and Jarrod Uthoff both received $50,000 guarantees on their camp deals – and Singler’s chosen the chance to fight for an NBA roster spot over a return to the international market.
“I have no idea what I’m gonna do. Gonna try to play as best I can in the Summer League and that’ll probably dictate where I go next year,” Singler told Raptors Republic in July. “That’s the hardest decision. There’s definitely pros and cons playing in the D-League, or there’s pros and cons playing overseas. Those are the things you’ve gotta weigh out with your family, your self, and your agent. For me, personally, I’ve gotta give my best opportunity in the Summer League and things will work out for the best.”
Singler sounds prophetic now, as he’s parlayed a strong Vegas showing into the camp deal. In five games at Summer League, he averaged 6.4 points, two rebounds, 1.4 assists, and one steal, shooting 48 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent on threes. He was also a key part of the Raptors’ dominant defensive showing in the tournament, with the team allowing just 90.5 points per-100 possessions when Singler was on the court. For the Raptors, that was an extension of his successful 10-game stint with the 905 – they acquired him at the trade deadline for a second-round pick – when he averaged 14.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while knocking down 47.5 percent of his threes.
The decision to stay stateside probably makes sense given Singler’s proximity to an NBA opportunity and how well he’s been able to play a similar role to the one he’d be asked to play if he makes the team or earns a call up down the line. While he’s not an elite defender, he’s proven versatile, guarding as many as four different positions for a thinned-out 905 team at the end of last season. Offensively, his ability to work as a secondary ball-handler and shoot the three makes him a fairly malleable piece. It’s the shooting that really stands out, as the former D-League 3-Point Shootout champion shot 37.3 percent on threes over four years at Oregon, 43.5 percent over two D-League seasons, and 39.3 percent during his one year in Estonia.
He was a major piece for the 905 during their strong finish to the season, but it’s his projectability as a role player that stood out to head coach Dwane Casey at Summer League.
“I think that’s the key to Summer League, and like I told the players, that’s a skill: To be able to come in and fit,” Casey said in July. “Because if you go to any team in the league, you’re probably gonna be in a subservient role, a role that’s coming off the bench or whatever. So we’re looking to see how you accept that role here, and guys have done a heck of a job of coming in and filling in those roles.”
The choice to stay within the Raptors organization seems to have been an easy one for Singler, too. That’s become a pretty common refrain from those in Summer League, training camp, or the D-League with the team, and it’s paying dividends in terms of the quality of the camp invites the Raptors have been able to bring in.
“I’m really comfortable with this team coming from the last 10 games with the 905,” Singler said in Vegas. “Knowing the players here, knowing some of the staff. I came in really comfortable. Them knowing me, knowing what I can do offensively and defensively and as a basketball player. I’ve been playing free and very confident. I had a great time with the organization there, and I felt like definitely this was the best place for me.”
The younger brother of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kyle Singler, E.J. should have a decent shot at fighting for the Raptors’ final roster spot, depending on which route the team opts to go. While VanVleet would appear to be the short-term favorite with Delon Wright likely out until December, the roster is also a little thin on forwards and shooting. At 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, Singler is far more three than four but has shown he can play up, at least at the D-league level, and his track record as a marksman is even more established than that of Uthoff, a deadly shooter in his own right. Drew Crawford and Yanick Moreira also loom, and the Raptors can still add one more player for camp under league rules.
Here’s how the roster stands today, with the players on non-guaranteed or partially guaranteed deals in bold:
PG: Kyle Lowry, Cory Joseph, (Delon Wright – injured), Fred VanVleet
SG: DeMar DeRozan, Norman Powell, Drew Crawford
SF: DeMarre Carroll, Terrence Ross, Bruno Caboclo, E.J. Singler
PF: Jared Sullinger, Patrick Patterson, Pascal Siakam, Jarrod Uthoff (more of a 3/4, but we’ll slot him here)
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Lucas Nogueira, Jakob Poeltl, Yanick Moreira