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Jalen Harris is back, can he help the Raptors?

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After a season overseas, Jalen Harris has returned to Toronto and is eligible to be reinstated by the NBA. Assuming that happens, how does he fit with the Raptors' vision and where could he potentially be an asset? Amit Mann and Oren Weisfeld discuss that along with ways Deandre Ayton, Serge Ibaka & Mo Bamba could fit with Toronto and new skills Gary Trent Jr. could add this offseason on the latest episode of the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast.

Video Transcript

- This kid Harris.

- Homecoming has been a wonderful thing for Jalen Harris.

- The kid can play.

AMIT MANN: Jalen Harris. Remember him? Yeah, he's back. He showed us on Twitter. He showed us on IG that he's back in Toronto currently.

And for those who may have forgotten about his situation, last year he violated the terms of the anti-drug program of the NBA. And now he had to miss last season.

But he is back now. He officially has to be reinstated by the NBA. And then the Raptors do have his rights, and they can decide what they want to do with him.

But it's interesting with him because he had a really strong end to those last four games in Tampa. I believe I wrote it down here-- he averaged 18 points, 40 3, 52% from the field. And so he had a really strong ending.

And you kind of saw a lot of different things he's going to be able to do on the basketball court. He's obviously a little bit older-- 24 years old-- turning 24 this year. But the Raptors have never been shy about taking on those kind of players. And there's a real natural feel when it comes to scoring from him.

And then with Italy, this past year numbers were a little bit down, but also, he's playing in Europe. I can't imagine what kind of toll all this has gone on them-- like, physically, mentally, emotionally. I'm sure it was a very taxing year for him. And obviously, first and foremost, you hope that everything is going OK for him and hope he's back to being smiling and healthy and all that kind of stuff.

But in the end, Oren, what do you think about Jalen Harris? Do you find that he's got a fit here? Do you think he-- the Raptors should really give him a shot?

OREN WEISFELD: I mean, yeah, I'd like to see him brought back on a kind of training camp deal where he can kind of fight his way in--

AMIT MANN: The, prove him.

OREN WEISFELD: The, prove him, deal. For sure. I think-- he was on a two-way deal, and I think he did enough on that two-way deal to probably warrant a real contract, kind of like Justin Champagnie kind of deal.

But then, obviously, the whole suspension happened, and that's kind of out of the Raptors control. So I think it'd be kind of fair for both sides to bring him back on a training camp deal and ask him to basically beat out a couple of these other fringe roster guys for one of those last spots, whether it's, like, a David Johnson, who is the 2A guy from this year.

Jalen Harris obviously proved more in his time than David Johnson did, right? When his season ended, two-way with the Raptors.

AMIT MANN: Yeah, man.

OREN WEISFELD: And when you look at fit-- you said it. Like, he has a natural knack for scoring, and the bench of the Raptors do not have that natural knack for scoring. Like, they were bringing Boucher to 2-1 bat off the bench. And those are three guys who are, like, defensive guys, rebounders, gritty guys. But they're not, I'm going to go get my own bucket guys. And Dylan Harris is definitely that kind of guy.

He's also a little bit of, like, Trent insurance, in a way, because I think his game and Gary Trent's game overlap in a lot of ways. They like to take the same shots. They like to score from the same places.

But Gary is basically on the last year of his deal coming up in this season, assuming he doesn't pick up that player option. So Harris-- if you bring him back, if he continues this development and he looks better and better, maybe he's some Trent insurance in case--

AMIT MANN: Mm-hmm.

OREN WEISFELD: --Trent leaves or is traded away.

AMIT MANN: Man, there's a lot of decisions that they've got to make because you look at next season with their salary cap. They're already at $4 million-- sorry, $114 million. And the cap is going to be around $122, give or take, something like that? And that's without Chris Boucher. That's without Thaddeus Young.

So there's a lot of decisions that they got to make on how-- well, one, how competitive they want to be next year. Do they want to view next season as-- do they want to make a huge leap, a medium leap, or is it just another building year?

That's one question I wish Masai Ujiri was asked about. And I'm sure it would have been an answer of, like, well, we're going to continue to evaluate that, and we'll see what we want to do.

But in the end, they have to make a lot of decisions. And they have a lot of options, which is a good thing. But what's your path to this? And that's why a person like Jalen Harris is so interesting, is that he does fit a need. He provides something that the Raptors need off their bench. And it's essentially just, like, guard play because Malachi Flynn-- things have gone up and down for him, but he isn't exactly the scorer that Jalen Harris is.

And if you read between the lines of what Nick Nurse has talked about, of what he wants from Malachi, it's kind of that knockdown shooting ability, the ability to penetrate to get into the paint. Defensively, that's a different story.

But Jalen Harris-- I was looking at the footage from his last few games of that Tampa year, and also some of the clips from his Europe year. And it's all still there.

I mean, the numbers are whatever they were in Europe. But, like, the catch and shoot ability, beating bigs on switches, which is something that the Raptors really need-- that downhill penetration, just coming off of switches, especially with the nature of their team.

He's got a little bit of a floater, too. And I love players with floaters. It's one of those things that not any real Raptor on the perimeter really has. Like, Fred has a bit of it, but doesn't really show it. Gary Trent, Jr.-- it's actually something that we're going to get to in a second, that I wish he had more of that ability in his bread basket.

And then just that footwork, man-- it's really, really impressive what he's able to do when it comes to that. And he's still in early years of his NBA career. I think they got to give him a shot because there's really no reason not to. And if you're getting that Jalen Harris-- that Tampa Jalen Harris-- or some version of close to that, immediately I think he kind of overtakes a few of the players that are in their system currently or players that they're relying upon for minutes at the tail end of this past season. So--


AMIT MANN: It's very interesting. I hope everything works out because he is a still interesting player And he is still in Toronto, too, because, again, I'm looking at his IG stories, and he was sending out videos last night of him just eating dinner, watching the game. And he put a locator tag-- Toronto, Ontario.

So he's here, and I'm sure he's getting-- they're evaluating, like you said, what they want to do. But I feel like they got to give him a real shot, and I hope he makes the most of it because there is a ton of intrigue with him. A ton.

OREN WEISFELD: Yeah, I hope so, too. I think he's really athletic, too, which is another thing that the Raptors don't have in the perimeter, in their guards--

AMIT MANN: 6' 5" as well.

OREN WEISFELD: Yeah, he can just attack a closeout and dunk over someone if that's the situation. And the question with him is the defense. It's hard to evaluate him from what happened in the end of the season in Tampa, just because--


OREN WEISFELD: --teams kind of stopped playing at the end of the season. They were in Tampa. All that stuff.

But yeah, the defense is going to be the question with him with Nick Nurse. Can he stay on the floor defensively? And that's, like-- that's why I kind of go back to the training camp deal. We don't know right now if he that system because in Tampa they weren't playing defense. [LAUGHS]


OREN WEISFELD: So let's see-- like, let's bring him back, and let's see if he can at least, like, give a good effort on that end because we know the offense is there.

And then, on the political side of things, he got banned for like a recreational drug. It's like--


OREN WEISFELD: Him coming back to league would also be a win in the, for drugs, in the war over drugs. So I'm rooting for him.

AMIT MANN: So you're saying, go drugs.

OREN WEISFELD: I'm saying, go drugs.


OREN WEISFELD: Go recreational drugs. Yes.

AMIT MANN: Go to the podcast right there. Go drugs. Love it.

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