The Toronto Raptors roster is set save for one open position that could either go to another young player expected to head immediately to the NBA D-League or an NBA veteran who could mentor and fill in as needed during the regular season. With rookies Delon Wright and Norman Powell already signed and sophomores Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira returning, one might expect the decision about what type of player would prove to be the most useful next season should be a no-brainer.
Of course President and General Manager Masai Ujiri could just leave the 15th roster spot open, but with the team so far below the luxury tax line that there is no chance of getting there, picking up a minimum salary player who could prove useful just seems like the logical thing to do.
The Raptors own free agent Tyler Hansbrough is still out there and he proved his worth last season as a young veteran player who willingly played out of position at center and always hustled no matter the role or the minutes Head coach Dwane Casey gave him. The 29-year-old should be holding out for a chance to join a team that at least has a backup role of some kind he could fill. The Raptors just don’t have any minutes for him and would likely give Nogueira first shot at any that did come available. Still Hansbrough would be a great practice player if he wants the job?
However, there is another intriguing 29-year-old veteran who might eventually find a role or at least provide support to the rookies and a very interesting story line. Dorell Wright is an 11-year NBA veteran who won a championship with the Heat as a young player. The brother of Raptors rookie Delon is a three-point shooting backup small forward who has averaged 36.5 percent on 3.1 three-point attempts over his NBA career.
Dorell missed the end of last season with Portland when he broke his left hand. The injury eventually needed surgery, but he was back on the court in early June, so it would be safe to assume he’s likely going to be ready by the start of the season.
Dorell has already been active in helping his younger brother Delon with the transition to the NBA and it has become apparent their is a lot of family support available for the Raptors rookie – support that would only be stronger if Dorell was playing in Toronto. Dorell only played three games with the Heat as a rookie and just 20 games the next season before getting his chance to finally contribute meaningful minutes the year after his team won a championship. He has real life experience that could benefit all of the Raptors rookies and sophomores.
Like Hansbrough, Dorell Wright would have to be comfortable without a spot in the rotation at the start of the season and accept mentoring younger players that would get the first crack at minutes if injuries opened up some playing time.
Deciding what to do with a team’s 15th roster spot shouldn’t be critical on a team expecting to win a Division title and it’s not. However, any small advantage a final player coming into a team can provide that might help down the road should get some serious consideration.