As reported by Shams Charania and Blake Murphy of the Athletic, the Raptors are signing Freddie Gillespie to a two-year deal. Terms of the deal have not yet been reported.
The Raptors had previously signed Gillespie to two 10-day deals, and with those expired, the team now has to sign him to a full NBA contract. Gillespie has averaged 5.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.0 blocks, and 0.4 steals per game in 10 games for Toronto while averaging 16.0 minutes per contest. That he has impressed is not surprising; Nick Nurse has advocated for Gillespie multiple times with the media, saying he hoped the young center would be with the Raptors after his 10-day expired. Hard for a team to deny a Head Coach a player like Gillespie.
Gillespie has been part of Toronto’s renaissance of the season. He and fellow center Khem Birch have manned the center position for Toronto for the last few weeks, and they have offered a soothing balm to Toronto’s previous woes. Gillespie has at times been spectacular defending the rim with his exceptional 7-foot-6 wingspan, challenging anyone and everyone without fear of the consequences. To be fair, he has also sometimes been beaten in the pick and roll and pushed away from the rim on the offensive end, but Gillespie is only 23 years old and an undrafted rookie to boot, so Toronto is betting that he will improve with more time in Toronto’s development system. His skills are raw, but he is practically a prototype of what Toronto seems to want its rookies to look like: raw, old, undrafted, athletic, and hungry.
To that point, Gillespie has exceptional tools. Showing that with Toronto would likely have been enough to earn a contract. That he has actively contributed to winning basketball is a cherry on top. Congratulations to Gillespie for his first ever full NBA deal.