The Raptors may have lost Kawhi Leonard, but that’s not stopping them from signing every able-bodied forward they can to fill the void he left behind. On Saturday it was Stanley Johnson, and now the news is that Toronto will bring in another defense-first player to man the 3- and 4-spot: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson on a one-year deal.
Here comes Shams Charania with the report:
Free agent forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has agreed to a one-year deal with the Toronto Raptors, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Hollis-Jefferson gets fresh opportunity in Raptors development system and sets himself up for 2020 free agency.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 7, 2019
Hollis-Jefferson, now 24 and listed at 6’7” and 217 pounds, comes to the Raptors by way of the Brooklyn Nets, where he spent the first four years of his career. He was selected 23rd overall by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 2015 NBA Draft before being traded (with Steve Blake!) for Pat Connaughton and Mason Plumlee. Since then, Rondae has carved out a niche for himself as a solid defender — if not exactly someone of use on offense.
Last season, Hollis-Jefferson appeared in 59 games for the Nets, starting in 29 of them, while averaging just over 20 minutes per game. In those games, he put up 8.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists, while shooting an unfortunate 41 percent from the field and 18 percent from three. For his career, Hollis-Jefferson is a career 44 percent shooter, hitting just 22 percent of his three-point shots in that span. With Kevin Durant and Taurean Prince coming to Brooklyn, and Rodions Kurucs on the rise, it makes sense for the Nets to move on.
That said, the Raptors are definitely on the hunt for players who can fill — even just in small part — the role that Kawhi Leonard played on the team last year. Through that lens, bringing in a player like Hollis-Jefferson (and Stanley Johnson) makes sense. The team needs forwards, and as dictated by the trends in the league, they need forwards who can move and defend across more than one position. Rondae doesn’t really move the dial as an offensive threat, but paired with Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, the recently-signed Johnson — and Toronto’s veteran play-making brain trust — it gives the Raptors some options.
Hopefully Hollis-Jefferson can make the most of his one year in Toronto.