Photo credit: Trung Ho / TrungHo.ca
The Toronto Raptors announced Friday that they have withdrawn the qualifying offer they had extended to Malcolm Miller.
By withdrawing the qualifying offer, the Raptors will lose the right to match any offer sheet Miller signs. The benefit of doing so is that Miller now no longer has the option of signing the qualifying offer, which would have guaranteed him $50,000 on a two-way contract for 2018-19. He is now an unrestricted free agent rather than a restricted one, though the Raptors will still hold Non-Bird Rights on Miller, allowing them to exceed the cap to sign him to slightly more than the minimum.
That seems unlikely, at least for the time being. On Monday, Miller dislocated his right shoulder in the third quarter of a Summer League. After landing hard, Miller clearly knew something was wrong, and when an MRI came back worrisome, he flew to Los Angeles to see a specialist. Miller has since been back around the Raptors in Las Vegas wearing a sling, but context clues suggest the injury may be more serious than a dislocation. The concern would be whether there’s a tear in the labrum, something that could require surgery and come with a recovery timeline that could extend into early 2019.
The dislocation is a terrible break for a player who was on the precipice of the NBA. A successful first foray into the two-way contract environment, Miller was a major contributor on a Raptors 905 team that went to the G League Finals and also contributed to the parent club Toronto Raptors, even starting a couple of games toward the end of the year. In Summer League as a restricted free agent, Miller seemed a likely candidate to earn a contract from the Raptors, perhaps similar to the one-year guarantee and second unguaranteed year that some other two-ways made good like Derrick Jones Jr. have signed as restricted free agents. Miller showed himself to be an NBA-caliber player, and breaking through that door will now be put on hold.
Where he goes from here is unclear. If he winds up needing several months to recover, he’ll miss the chance to fight his way onto a team through training camp. It would potentially be too big a risk for a tax-strapped team like the Raptors to sign him now and wait, but perhaps it’s something they can explore as he nears a return to health. The 905 could also try to secure his G League rights, allow him to rehab there, and then re-evaluate when he’s healthy. And, of course, Miller is a free agent, so another team could make a play to bring him in, believing the upside at the back end of the year would be worthwhile.
Whatever the case, this is really unfortunate. Miller had a great season, has been a fine addition to the Raptors’ organization from a culture perspective, and has now suffered a major Summer League injury for the second year in a row. The safe bet is that he’ll be back in this position again soon, but he’s likely lost an opportunity to enter the season on an NBA deal, something that was very much on the table before Monday.