Raptors re-sign Yuta Watanabe and Freddie Gillespie

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Photo courtesy of raptors.com / instagram.com/raptors

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.

3 Comments

  1. […] Okay, that might be a bit of a stretch, but the two of them — along with another supporting wing in Stanley Johnson — played like world-beaters against Orlando on Friday. The trio combined to score 64 of the Raptors’ 113 points on 22/32 shooting from the field and 13/20 from three. Watson’s contribution was the most surprising of the three, as he scored a career-high 30 points (20 in the third quarter) while making his first career start in only his second game back after missing 11 games due to health and safety protocols. This could in part explain his scoreless, 0/10 shooting follow-up against Oklahoma City on Sunday. Even with Watson’s off-night, Watanabe and Johnson continued to chip in against Oklahoma City, with both putting up double-digit points in the win. Watanabe’s play has even been so impressive during this streak that the Raptors decided to convert his two-way contract to a standard NBA contract. […]

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