The Toronto Raptors announced on Saturday that guard Will Cherry and forward Jordan Hamilton were released. This means center Greg Stiemsma has survived the cut heading towards the Raptors home opener on Wednesday against the Atlanta Hawks.
Cherry was hoping to get his first chance to play in the NBA after going undrafted a year ago and Raptors backup point guard Greivis Vasquez was impressed by the young player’s professionalism.
“He is a very tough guard, plays extremely hard, works really hard, he just has to be consistent in his work,” Vasquez said. “His attitude is a great attitude and I think he is a very professional guy for being a young guy that is just getting into the league. I think he is going to be fine.”
Hamilton was impressive during the preseason, however, he was competing for a spot where the Raptors have a surplus of depth on the roster. He came into training camp in the best shape of his NBA career and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he lands on his feet elsewhere in the NBA or in Europe.
“The main thing for me this summer was cutting back on my weight,” Hamilton said. “I’ve always been a scorer and by cutting back 16-17 lbs, I’m more mobile. I can get around guys, (better) footwork, athleticism and things like that. I feel like I’ve rejuvenated myself by losing my weight and getting serious about my body this summer.”
In fairness, this was Stiemsma’s position to lose as the Raptors needed depth at backup center on a team expected to go far this season. On previous Raptors team’s with lower expectations, rookie center Lucas ‘Bebe’ Nogueira would be seeing a lot of minutes right away in an attempt to develop him quickly, but this team needs the security of a more veteran backup like Stiemsma to stay on a winning path.
In part, Stiemsma was brought in to fill the role previously held by center Aaron Gray as a big defender and mentor to the young guys. At 29-years-old, Stiemsma is the second oldest player on the Raptors and he’ll be expected to help Nogueira and Bruno Caboclo develop.
Stiemsma will be a shot blocker, towel waver, mentor or whatever role Coach Casey asks him to fill.
“I think that was part of the reason that drew me here,” Stiemsma said. “I’ll try to share my knowledge when I can about certain things and definitely want to help these young guys Lucas (Nogueira) and Bruno (Caboclo).”
Listen to what Stiemsma has to say about his game and his role here:
Raptors Press release:
RAPTORS WAIVE CHERRY, HAMILTON
The Toronto Raptors announced Saturday they have waived guard Will Cherry and forward-guard Jordan Hamilton.
The Raptors completed their preseason schedule last night with a 83-80 win over New York in Montreal. The club finished with a 7-1 mark, tying the franchise best record set in the 2006 preseason.
Cherry played in five contests, averaging 3.4 points, 1.6 assists and 13.9 minutes. Hamilton averaged 9.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 18.3 minutes in six outings.
The roster now stands at 15 players heading into Wednesday’s regular season opener versus Atlanta at Air Canada Centre (7:30 p.m.).