Raptors News

Raptors waive Lorenzo Brown ahead of contract deadline

First broken by Woj, the Raptors have officially waived guard Lorenzo Brown. His $800 000 cap hit would have guaranteed at 5 pm ET today, so the move clears some money off the books. However, the Raptors will need to sign a 14th player within the next 14 days, so if it is to save money, they will really only save 14 days’ worth of a minimum contract. (Considering the luxury tax bill, the 14 days with only 13 on the roster would save Toronto $508 000, per math by Blake Murphy).

Brown is a defence-first point guard who has still not found a fit at the NBA level. He is entirely too good for the G-League, where his slow and ball-dominant style can prop up a lower-level offence. He hasn’t been able to translate his skills to his time with the Raptors, as he’s been unable to speed up his decision making and improve his shooting to required levels. Of course, the bottom end of the roster is not supposed to be able to carry an NBA offence, and Brown has performed admirably as the fourth point guard on the roster. With Kyle Lowry back and healthy, the Raptors may want to find someone other than a point guard at the back end of the roster.

The Raptors will need to make a decision with the roster quite soon. They can only have 13 players on the roster for two weeks. It’s quite possible that the necessary player is in-house; Chris Boucher has spent more time with the Raptors than the 905 recently, and his 45 day maximum with the parent club is likely coming soon. For him to play with the team into the end of the season, or in the playoffs, the team will need to sign Boucher to the 14th roster spot. Boucher has been putting up record-breaking numbers in the G-League as a scorer and shot-blocker, and he always seems to make something happen when he hits the hardwood for the Raptors. Choosing a player from in-house is a common route for Toronto, as they signed Lorenzo Brown to the 15th roster spot last year after he won G-League MVP.

Jordan Loyd is similarly accomplished as a two-way player. Despite growing up with Lorenzo Brown as competitors, and since becoming friends, the two have quite different games. Despite battling injuries, Loyd has hit the 30-point mark in four of his last seven games. The weaknesses that have held back Brown in the NBA are strengths for Loyd; he is a quick-release, accurate shooter (35.2 percent on the season). and a speedy decision maker. Loyd can slot in as a wing, whereas Brown was hamstrung as a point guard on offence.

Another deadline coming up for Toronto is January 15, the last day for teams to sign two-way players. Toronto has elite two-way players (both legitimate G-League MVP candidates, like 2017-18 G-League MVP Brown before them), but if they promote either of them to the big club, they will need to find replacements elsewhere for the 905. Deng Adel could be promoted to a two-way contract, as he’s an athletic wing who has a smooth shooting stroke (though the numbers haven’t yet come around). Toronto could likewise look around the rest of the league for a new two-way guy if they promote Boucher or Loyd.

Brown performed well as a bottom of the roster type, but Toronto seems to value flexibility over his services. They have a number of options going forward, but my best (and uneducated) guess would be that their follow-up moves don’t rock the boat. Despite having played half of the season, the team still doesn’t know exactly what it has, and they probably won’t find end-of-bench prospects who can take playoff minutes from current Raptors rotation players. Promoting Boucher and signing Adel to a two-way contract seems far likelier than trading for an end-of-bench type or even signing a 14th man from outside of Toronto/Mississauga.

As for Brown, he should be able to find a home in the NBA moving forward. No NBA team has the point guard depth of Toronto, with Lowry, Fred Van Vleet, and Delon Wright all capable of leading NBA-level offences for stretches. Brown is already 28-years-old, so teams likely believe that he has little growing left to do. But the player he is should be sufficient to remain in the NBA.

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