A week ago free agent Julyan Stone was on the verge of becoming a Toronto Raptor. President and General Manager, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri had reached out to re-acquire the third string point guard he had originally signed in Denver. It all made sense. Then some unexpected events happened.
First the Raptors came to agreement with point guard Dwight Buycks who had been playing very well with the HEAT’s summer league team in Orlando. Buycks has even less NBA experience than Stone, but Buycks would probably rank ahead of Stone on the Raptors depth chart. At the very least, the Raptors interest in Buycks was curious after pursuing Stone, but the assumption could be there will only be 8 to 12 minutes a night backing up Kyle Lowry anyway, as risky as that concept sounds. Almost right away, various media were tweeting that there was a problem with Stone passing his physical and the deal to acquire him could be off.
As usual with Ujiri, the silence coming from the Raptors about the situation was deafening. However, at Tyler Hansbrough’s introduction to the Toronto media on Monday, Ujiri finally did let slip what had happened with Stone.
“Julyan (Stone) has to go through some more rehab and it is going to take probably a month, month-and-a-half,” Ujiri said. “I think after he goes through that, then we would deal with his situation and this – sort of – I think a little bit of his hip, his knee – he’ll be fine.”
While Ujiri’s answer might sound a little unintentionally cryptic, Stone tore a hip muscle during last year’s NBA Las Vegas Summer League. Surgery was required to repair the tear and Stone was expected to be out for 5 months. He returned to practice early in January and did play a game with the Nuggets before being sent to the NBA D-League for what eventually became a total of 6 games. He only played one more time with Denver in January, but played two in a row in March before going down with a sprained MCL for the rest of the regular season.
Stone did play in two playoff games with Denver in April, so it is easy to see how Ujiri would have made the assumption that Stone would be fit to go again over two months later. However, it is now readily apparent; Stone had never fully recovered from his injury a year ago and any future he might have with the Raptors hangs on his ability to fully recover while Ujiri still needs a player of his talents.
Stephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre. A member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association, Stephen is the editor and publisher of Pro Bball Report.