Malcolm Miller was signed by the Toronto Raptors back on July 9th to a two-way contract. For Miller, it meant spending the majority of the year in the G-League with the Raptors 905. But it will also give him an opportunity to play in the NBA.
“They are big on development, and they have been watching me for some time, and I did well in their free agent camp,” said Miller about his contract situation with the Raptors. “As well I’ve heard great things from the organization, and how they develop and how people went through here, so it was just a good look all around.”
However, when Miller was playing with the Raptors in Summer League he sprained his ankle and underwent ankle arthroscopy for debridement. It meant Miller was going to be out for a few months and miss out on all that valuable development time with the Raptors in training camp.
Finally, after about four months, Miller was cleared to play. He made his Raptors 905 debut last Saturday against the Lakeland Magic.
“To me it has felt like it has been a very long time,” said Miller of his return. “I was just following the process, following the steps, and not rushing anything. I’m still on a minute restriction and take everything easy and simple, and it is going to take me to get back to playing basketball and get the flow with my team and everything but I’m looking forward to it.”
Miller’s coach Jerry Stackhouse may be equally happy to insert Miller into his lineup, given all the 905’s recent departures.
“He is really excited to get going,” said Stackhouse. “[I’m] just trying to limit him [since] it is his first time in real action so just don’t want to overdo it. He has been really good in practices, with our numbers being down we haven’t really had a chance to get up and down ... but I know the adrenaline will take over for a little while for him.”
The time off gave Miller the opportunity to work on his shot, which, Stackhouse went on to note, has improved. “We have a real versatile group, with Alfonzo [McKinnie] and Bruno [Caboclo] who can float between the three and the four,” said Stackhouse. “So I’m excited to draw up some things for him coming off, and [Miller] is shooting well, the best strokes I’ve ever seen. We are going to find a way to get him involved, for sure, once he gets back and ready to go.”
Miller did look impressive in the short amount of time he played with the 905 on Saturday. In 14 minutes, he chipped in with 4 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist. But for Miller, it wasn’t the stats he was more about just being on the court again.
“It felt amazing, it felt so good,” said Miller. “Of course, finding the flow of the game and the rhythm of your teammates is the next priority, but just being out there is the first step.”
Now the only concern is monitoring Miller’s ankle. He’s still on a minutes restriction, and after his first game the ankle had to be elevated for precautionary reasons. Still, Miller remains in good spirits. “It feels fine,” he added. “I am still on a minutes restriction so we are taking slow steps and I can only do as much as they let me, and it is feeling fine.
“We really got see how I react every game, like more minutes whether anything happens or not and that will be the judge of it. But we will try to up it to the point where I can start making a bigger impact.”
And that is the ultimate hope for Miller, Stackhouse, and the 905. (To say nothing of the Raptors themselves.) Using a two-way contract spot on Miller suggests the organization has some confidence already that he can play at the NBA level. The other new faces to the big league squad (McKinnie and Brown) have gotten their chance already.
Now it’s Miller’s time.