The Toronto Raptors are adding free agent guard Will Barton to their roster as soon as he completes his contract buyout with the Washington Wizards, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
ESPN Sources: Free agent G Will Barton is signing with the Toronto Raptors. After completing buyout with Wizards, Barton will join Toronto and be eligible for a playoff roster. He’s played in 29 career postseason games with Nuggets and Blazers.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 28, 2023
In order to free up the necessary roster spot, the Raptors are waiving Juancho Hernangomez, Woj reports. By signing today, Barton is eligible for the postseason roster.
Barton, a 6’6” shooting guard, played 40 games with the Wizards this season after spending the previous 7.5 seasons with the Denver Nuggets. He’s a career 35.5% three-point shooter, who’s shooting 38% this year and has shot 37% over the past five seasons.
In other words — he fills a pretty clear need for these Raptors!
Now, Barton might have to do some work to stay on the floor defensively. It’s always tough for new players to come in midway through the season and pick up the Raptors’ schemes, but hopefully the shooting will offset any lapses (and it’s unlikely Barton would be playing huge minutes anyway).
In waiving Juancho Hernangomez and signing Will Barton, Raptors let go of someone who has competed defensively but struggled shooting (25.4% from 3) for someone who struggles defensively but has shot 36.5% from 3 in 4 straight years. A reasonable gamble in low-leverage spot.— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) February 28, 2023
If Nurse allows Barton to play through any defensive miscues, this is a great pickup. It adds another scorer off the bench and might mean that Fred VanVleet doesn’t have to play 40 minutes a night down the stretch.
Assuming that the team’s starting lineup going forward consists of VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl, that leaves a bench rotation of Gary Trent Jr., Precious Achiuwa, Chris Boucher, and Barton. While there’s clearly some overlap between Trent and Barton, Trent is the better defender and will likely still play starter-like minutes, but having Barton as an extra shooter and scoring threat should open things up even more for Trent, Boucher and Achiuwa.
Barton might also be able to share some inside intel that might be useful in the coming weeks as the Raptors look to get every edge they can to solidify their postseason seeding:
Interesting too that Raptors have Washington for two games this week and play Denver twice in the 10 days after that. https://t.co/kAY7SnKNON— Michael Grange (@michaelgrange) February 28, 2023
Barton is averaging 7.7 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in about 20 minutes a night this season. His three-point shooting has remained high (the aforementioned 38%, on 3.4 attempts) but his two-point shooting has tanked to below 40% after hovering around 49% the past five seasons in Denver.
The Raptors, with Poeltl, represent a more balanced roster and should fit Barton better than whatever the heck the Wizards are doing, so I’m confident Barton will shoot the ball well here.
As for Hernangomez, I liked what he brought to the team, but it was pretty clear that he didn’t have a role in the new rotation, whereas Barton’s shooting should have an additive effect.
I don’t expect we’ll see Barton tonight but he should join the team in time to play the Wizards on Thursday.