The Toronto Raptors have officially signed Yuta Watanabe to a full contract, for he was previously on a two-way deal. The Raptors did not release financial specifics for the deal, but per Blake Murphy of the Athletic, it will be a minimum deal for the remainder of the 2020-21 season and a non-guaranteed minimum deal for the 2021-22 season.
The Raptors have also re-signed Freddie Gillespie to a second 10-day contract. Nick Nurse has spoken highly of his play in recent days, even going so far as to hope openly to media that he’d be signed for a longer deal when his 10-days expire.
Both Watanabe and Gillespie have been playing exquisitely in recent days. Over the last three games, Watanabe has filled the box score, averaging 14.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists, all on ridiculous 60/50/90 splits with a per-game plus-minus of plus-5.3. Beyond the numbers, he has shown aggression and decisiveness offensively. He’s always been a great defender and offensive connector, but he’s been shooting well, driving with intent, and finishing around the rim. He’s been a huge reason why Toronto is on a three-game winning streak.
Gillespie has been revelatory since signing in Toronto. Ten-day contract players aren’t supposed to have huge impacts, but Gillespie has played 20 minutes a game and added a quite solid 9.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks. He and newly signed Khem Birch have solidified the center spot, offering rim defense and offensive finishing that Toronto lacked. Gillespie has been fantastic fighting for offensive rebounds, making himself available for dump-off passes, and being fearless attacking shots on the defensive end. At only 23 years old, he’s an undrafted rookie who’s never played anywhere else in the NBA; a classic Raptors-style player, he could develop into a long-term piece for Toronto’s center depth.
All in all, a nice piece of business. Both Watanabe and Gillespie have played well for Toronto in a down season. It’s wonderful to see them rewarded.