Raptors facing tough contract decision with Jeff Dowtin Jr.

Mar 29 2023, 8:41 pm

The Toronto Raptors have a big decision to make with guard Jeff Dowtin Jr.

Appearing in 22 games (and being active for 46 games) this season, Dowtin has provided a decent presence off the Raptors’ relatively thin bench unit.

Cracking his way into the Raptors’ rotation over the last few months, Dowtin has averaged 2.9 points, 1.4 assists, and one rebound in 11 games for the Raptors since January 1, 2023, in 13 minutes a game.

For comparison’s sake, Toronto’s Malachi Flynn has averaged 2.5 points, 1.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 25 games over that same time span, while Dalano Banton has averaged one point, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.6 assists over that time frame but has played in just five games since the new year.

At least on paper, Dowtin has been about on par with Flynn’s offensive production, while taking a step above Banton’s relatively minimal impact.

But as a two-way contract, Dowtin isn’t currently eligible for either the play-in or, should they make it, the playoffs.

Right now, Toronto has to make a choice if they want to navigate the salary cap crunch that would come with wanting to keep Dowtin postseason eligible, while also hopefully toeing the line that keeps the team out of the luxury tax.

It’s a decision that can impact the Raptors both now and in the future. Essentially, the Raptors might have to waive another player if they want to keep Dowtin as part of their rotation… and have to weigh the benefits of seeing how they’d fit him into their rotation next season and beyond. At 25, Dowtin isn’t among the NBA’s youngest players, but he’s still just 31 games into his career and still likely has room to grow his game and his role at the top level.

“Assuming they want to wait until the last possible moment, they could convert his deal after the April 9 season finale and still have him available for the play-in games,” is the crux of the Raptors decision, as written this week per TSN’s Josh Lewenberg. “However, if they wanted him to play in each of their seven remaining contests to close the season, they would have to convert him after he reaches his 50th active game in Charlotte on April 4.”

Lewenberg floated both Banton and veteran Thad Young as possible players Toronto could waive to have the money to guarantee Dowtin’s contract.

“I think he’s played well for us just about every time he’s gone out there,” head coach Nick Nurse said this week about Dowtin’s effort. “We’re always talking about solid play, which is guarding your position as well as you can and executing at both ends of the floor. He’s got us running stuff and is capable of scoring a little bit on his own but doesn’t overdo it. He just fits in nicely there on both ends.”

For Raptors fans, it’s now a waiting game over the next week and a half to see what exactly the front office decides.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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