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Report: Juancho Hernangomez to sign with Raptors

The breakout star of “Hustle” is heading north!

2022 NBA Playoffs - Dallas Mavericks v Utah Jazz Photo by Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images

Just when you thought things were getting quiet in the NBA offseason, here comes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski to drop a bomb that sets NBA Twitter aflame!

OK, that’s a lede that probably belongs to our buddies over at Celticsblog, after Woj dropped the news about the Boston Celtics having discussions with the Brooklyn Nets about a Jaylen Brown / Kevin Durant swap the other day.

Nevertheless, there’s still some excitement surrounding Woj’s latest bomb: The one that tells us that Juancho Hernangomez is signing a free-agent deal with the Toronto Raptors.

Now, it’s true that, at this point, much of that excitement flows from the undeniable fact that Hernangomez was great in Hustle, Adam Sandler’s Netflix film about a scout who unearths the NBA’s next star over in Europe. Hernangomez played Bo Cruz, the star, and brought pathos and humanity to the role, as well as authenticity — not just as a ball player, but as a player that has to leave home to really make an impact in his sport. It’s worth a watch if you haven’t seen it!

All of that aside, the fit between Hernangomez and Toronto is also pretty perfect — at least, on paper. He’s 6’9” with a 7-foot wingspan, and checks all the boxes of a modern Raptor: he’s got a strong motor, he can play both forward positions, can switch on pick-and-roll defense effectively, and he’s got decent range.

Still, a lot of that potential remains unrealized. Hernangomez came into the league at age 20 and during his first three years, in Denver, he averaged five points and three rebounds in in 15 minutes a game, with 44/37/76 shooting splits. A solid start to his career, but he’s bounced around since then, and his numbers and minutes have bounced around too.

Now 27, Hernangomez has a chance to show his stuff in training camp for the Raptors.

The signing brings the Raptors up to 19 players under contract, with Christian Koloko unsigned; they’re allowed to bring 20 to camp, so another signing seems unlikely, unless someone is waived. All signs point to Svi Mykhailiuk possibly getting cut, but nothing has happened on that front yet (if it is to happen, I hope it’s soon, so Svi can sign a training camp deal somewhere else and compete for a spot).