The Toronto Raptors are going to be flush with point guards in training camp.
The team is signing Kay Felder to a partially guaranteed contract, according to a report from Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports, bringing the point guard depth chart to six names here in mid-August.
Felder will ostensibly compete for the 14th and 15th roster spot, but it’s not immediately clear what his path to the roster might be unless the Raptors are going to go very heavy on guards. They already have Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright, and Fred VanVleet under guaranteed contracts and entrenched in the rotation, Jordan Loyd on a two-way contract, and Lorenzo Brown guaranteed for $800,000. With the team well into the luxury tax already – and therefore somewhat unlikely to carry a 15th player all season – Felder making the roster would seem superfluous on the surface.
At the same time, the guarantee could be small, allowing Felder to stick on the roster a few days into the season as additional insurance at a position that the team has always but immense value on (and that new head coach Nick Nurse figures to value highly with dual-point guard lineups). Felder could also be tabbed for Raptors 905 duty, although he would be ineligible to play for the Raptors’ G League affiliate if the contract guarantee is greater than $50,000. (If this is an Exhibit 10 deal with a $50,000 guarantee, Felder could later be converted to a two-way deal, although using both of those on guards would seem somewhat redundant.)
UPDATE: Raptors Republic has learned that it’s an Exhibit 10 deal. (As a refresher, an Exhibit 10 contract is a one-year, non-guaranteed NBA contract that will bring the player into training camp to compete for a roster spot. Failing that, the team has the option to convert the contract to a two-way contract or, if the player is cut, clears waivers, and agrees to join Raptors 905 as an Affiliate Player, he’ll receive a $50,000 bonus to supplement the $35,000 G League salary. The immediate focus will be making the roster out of camp, but there are options available to continue Felder’s development within the organization if he doesn’t.)
For now, Felder brings the roster to 17, and it looks as follows:
Guaranteed NBA contracts: 13 (Lowry, VanVleet, Wright, Green, Powell, Richardson, Leonard, Miles, Anunoby, Siakam, Valanciunas, Ibaka, Monroe)
Partially guaranteed NBA contracts: 1 (Brown)
Exhibit 10 contracts: 2 (Boucher, Felder; can have up to 6)
Two-way contracts: 1 (Loyd; can have up to 2)
Total roster spots: 17 (can have up to 20)
Felder is a really fun piece, and if he does make his way to the 905, he’d be a great lead guard there. With one of the fastest handles in all of basketball – like, prime Twista fast – and the second highest vertical jump ever recorded at the NBA Draft Combine, Felder is able to create offense well beyond what his size might indicate. At 5-foot-9 and 179 pounds, Felder’s managed to find his way into 58 games over two NBA seasons across three teams, averaging 3.8 points and 1.3 assists but on just 43.8-percent true shooting. From an analytics perspective, it’s a small and noisy sample, and Jacob Goldstein’s PIPM metric pegs him to be quite a negative next year, even pricing in some further development at age 23.
He’s had more success in the G League, where he’s averaged 21.4 points on 53.5-percent true-shooting across two seasons with three affiliates, chipping in 3.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.4 steals, too. It’s possible his game just needs further work and that the emergence of a 3-point shot could raise his ceiling beyond that of a fringe guard – he’s hit 34.5 percent in the G League and 26.8 percent in the NBA – and he’ll need to show he can be more than a havoc creator forcing steals on defense given his size. There’s still time, and the Raptors and 905 have had no issue putting faith in smaller guards at that end of the floor, so it will be interesting to see how much more he can dominate if he does wind up there.
He probably doesn’t have much more to prove there, of course, but the chance to compete for a roster spot in camp and stay close to the NBA in the G League could be attractive given how many teams have shown interest over the last two-plus seasons. A highly decorated player for a mid-major guard over three years at Oakland – he even made Third-Team All-American as a junior – Felder was selected 52nd overall by the Atlanta Hawks in the 2016 NBA Draft and immediately flipped to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Chicago Bulls claimed him off waivers when the Cavaliers cut him after training camp last season, and after he was waived in December by the Bulls, the Detroit Pistons signed him to a two-way contract.
It’s never a bad thing to have plenty of competition in camp, and with two-way deals carrying small guarantees off the luxury tax sheet, Brown’s deal not fully guaranteed, and roster-balancing moves still possible from here, landing another potential third point guard for training camp is hardly the worst use of these final spots, even if Felder’s path to the NBA roster could be tough.