With just 14 games remaining in the season, the Toronto Raptors have given forward Yuta Watanabe a standard NBA contract.
Having joined the Toronto Raptors in December, originally signing a two-way deal, forward Yuta Watanabe looks set to be a part of the team’s future beyond this season after putting pen to paper on a standard NBA contract.
While the length and financial terms were not officially announced by the Raptors, Spotrac lists Watanabe as being locked up for the rest of this season as well as the next, where he will carry a cap hit of $1,762,796.
Watanabe earned this contract after spending his entire North American professional career on a two-way deal, initially with the Memphis Grizzlies before joining the Raptors prior to the turn of the year.
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Watanabe split time with the Grizzlies and their NBA G League affiliates the Memphis Hustle between 2018 and 2020, where he racked up 33 NBA appearances; averaging 2.3 points, 1.5 rebounds (1.2 defensive) and shooting .353 on field goals.
Since moving to Toronto (Tampa), the Yokohama, Japan native has been putting up career-highs in average points (4.0), total rebounds (3.3) and in field goal percentage (.448).
He has found a role as a depth player with the Raptors, averaging 13.4 minutes per game, and now looks likely to continue in that position during the 2021/22 season – with the team beginning to look beyond a season that has been filled with uncertainty.
His career-high individual game score came against the Orlando Magic this season, where he posted 21 points along with six rebounds, giving the team a clear indication of the kind of production he is capable of if he is given a larger role – having played just shy of 27 minutes in the 113-102 victory.
The new contract is a well-deserved reward for the forward, who has grown throughout the season and has found himself playing his best basketball since signing his original two-way deal.
With plenty of changes expected to be made by the Toronto Raptors in the off-season, it will be nice to see some continuity with one of the season’s more positive stories, seeing Watanabe fill an important depth role on the team.