Report: Raptors sign Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to one-year deal

We have our second free-agent signing in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

We have our second free-agent signing in Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

The 24-year-old Hollis-Jefferson averaged 8.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season with the Brooklyn Nets. The 6’7″ four-year veteran can be labelled as a “small-ball power forward” and has played his entire career with the Brooklyn Nets and averaged a career-high 13.9 points in 2017-18 before being hit with injuries last year (and really, throughout his career). He’s played 29, 78, 58 and 59 games in his first four season (BR profile). This he attests to a test from God and we’re hoping the Raptors are the “great things” that are being thrown at him:

The Raptors yesterday signed Stanley Johnson, and much like him, RJH offers little in the way of three-point shooting (or just plain old shooting), a need turning out to be quite glaring. However, after being considered a bust during his rookie year he was about to turn himself into something of a steal. This Nets Daily article published right after his rookie year is a very good analysis of his early struggles and how he had turned things around:

Last season, he was healthy, but his shooting took a dip. Then, in mid-January Kenny Atkinson made a move that caught a lot of people by surprise. He began giving Hollis-Jefferson time at power forward. And why not? In his first season and a half, he was shooting under 25 percent from three point range. The Nets liked what they had but as one inside source noted, when your offense is predicated on deep shooting and your small forward can’t shoot, that’s a problem.

The “small ball” power forward movement was propelled by Draymond Green’s success at Golden State. And Atkinson liked the other parts of Hollis-Jefferson’s game: his defense, his passing, his energy. The success of the switch became evident when comparing Hollis-Jefferson’s production before the All-Star break (7.8 points and 5.1 rebounds and 42 percent shooting overall) to after (10.3 points and 7.2 rebounds and 45 percent).

As it turned out that was just the start. Hollis-Jefferson devoted his summer to making that the foundation of something bigger. There were long days (and nights) at the HSS Training Center, perfecting his shot, losing a hitch while gaining credibility, working on his ball-handling.

Turned out all of that was for naught as the Nets did not extend him a qualifying offer after he fell out of the rotation and struggled to stay healthy.  They also needed to create cap space for Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.  He remains an excellent defender who can rebound well, drive effectively and facilitate adequately. It’s just that the man simply cannot shoot. The early analysis here is that there wasn’t much of a market for him and this could be a “show me” deal where he may even be pegged to start (what!), at least that’s as per Rotoworld:

There wasn’t much of a market out there for RHJ, so he’ll sign a one-year, show-me deal with Toronto in hopes of upping his value for free agency again in 2020. There’s a decent chance he’ll start at small forward in Toronto, so we’d anticipate his numbers to resemble what he did during the 2017-18 season: 13.9 points, 6.8 boards, 2.5 dimes, 1.0 steal and 0.7 swats per contest.

It would be damn near depressing if he’s our starter come opening night instead of Kawhi Leonard, and if he is, that would probably speak to a larger shift in the organization from contending for a title to…well, we’ll figure that out soon.  A taste of his injuries include an adductor strain, groin strain, shoulder, hamstring, sprained ankle to name a few. I suppose if Alex McKechnie thought he was getting a break from catering to fragile players, he was wrong.

This is probably not relevant but his agent is Canadian (One Legacy Sports Management) and represents Khem Birch, Jamal Murray, Dillon Brooks, and Dwight Powell. Perhaps there was a soft spot from RJH in the Raptors organization, and considering this will likely be a deal close to the minimum, it’s low risk and medium reward.  He’s a strong defender, can run the break, and does well on the pick ‘n roll. Here’s a taste of the leftie, who are always a little tricky to defend:

It’s a relatively underwhelming signing and I know I’m making fun of his shooting and he’s been injured, but he is a hustle forward who will give offenses something to think about, while offering Nick Nurse extreme flexibility.  In the end it really depends on what else the Raptors are planning – if it’s a mild rebuild then he’s a good stop-gap until we mature the assets we get back in the inevitable Kyle Lowry trade.

Here’s a take on the depth chart:

PG: Lowry, VanVleet
SG: Powell, Jackson
SF: Siakam, Anunoby, Jefferson
PF: Ibaka, Moreland, Miller
C: Gasol, Boucher, Hernandez

That is one solid looking defensive squad. I’m just wondering who can attract a double team other than Siakam. But make of the depth chart what you will, all I can see is that it’s incomplete and imbalanced, and as free-agents have all dried up, we’re looking at trades!

I’ll leave you with him his game-winner this season against the Kings – that is a great finish – welcome Rondae!