The Chicago Bulls and Toronto Raptors each made roster moves yesterday, as both teams vie for seeding in the Eastern Conference with the 2023 NBA Playoffs looming.
Shams Charania of the Athletic and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN broke the news yesterday afternoon, beginning with the Toronto Raptors waiving forward Juancho Hernangomez:
The Toronto Raptors are waiving forward Juancho Hernangomez, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 28, 2023
Hernangomez played 42 games for Toronto this season, starting in 10. He averaged 2.9 points and 2.9 rebounds per game on 42.1 percent shooting from the floor in just under 15 minutes of play.
The forward, 27, has been in the NBA since 2016. He has played for six teams in his seven-year career.
The Raptors did not rest on their laurels in freeing up a roster spot with the release of Hernangomez. They quickly added former Washington Wizards forward Will Barton.
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
The 32-year-old combo guard-forward had the prime of his career with the Denver Nuggets. Playing with the team from 2014-2022, Barton averaged double figures scoring in the Mile High City.
An athletic slasher with tremendous rebounding ability and intangibles, Barton is added to a robust forward depth chart including O.G. Anunoby, Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and Thaddeus Young, as well as the injured Otto Porter Jr.
Barton will be competing with the aforementioned stars for playing time at the forward spot, as well as Gary Trent Jr. when Raptors head coach Nick Nurse opts to play him at shooting guard.
Lastly, the Bulls got rid of veteran point guard Goran Dragic, diminishing an already-thin backcourt lineup:
The Bulls have waived Goran Dragic.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) February 28, 2023
The Bulls were not getting the best out of Dragic. In 51 games, he averaged 15 minutes per contest, with modest marks of 6.4 points and 2.7 assists per game.
Chicago has been without the services of point guard Lonzo Ball for the entirety of the 2022-23 season thus far. In his stead, Ayo Dosunmu and Alex Caruso have manned the lion share of responsibilities at point guard via proxy, while DeMar Derozan (5.0 APG) and Zach LaVine (4.0 APG) have led the team in assists.
All four aforementioned players have put in work on both ends, contributing to a Bulls defense that has been stout in the 2023 calendar year.
Dragic’s departure comes with the arrival of Patrick Beverley, the former Los Angeles Lakers’ combo guard who was recently added to the Windy City franchise, and figures to bolster an already ascending defense.
The Portland Trail Blazers will face the Chicago Bulls on Friday, March 24, in a possibly-pivotal game down the stretch of the season. The Bulls will be the last Eastern Conference team that the Blazers will face before embarking upon a nine-game Western Conference front that will determine their playoff and draft fate.