Title: Raptors hoping to develop ‘gunslinger’ Malachi Richardson into something more
Date: July 13, 2018
Original Source: The Athletic
Synopsis: In my latest for The Athletic Toronto, I wrote about Malachi Richardson, who has been perhaps the most surprising Raptor at Summer League but still has a ways to go as a prospect.
As Las Vegas Summer League opened last week, Nick Nurse offered his first mild surprise as head coach of the Toronto Raptors. Asked who had impressed him most over the course of a small number of workouts and practices before the tournament, Nurse offered name at the back end of the bench, identifying the sometimes-forgotten man in the Raptors young core.
“Malachi Richardson,” Nurse said. “I told him, we had a little mini camp, I told him at the end, I said, ‘Man, you can play some defence. I didn’t know that until this week.’ He’s a guy we finally got our hands on and started to put into our player development, and you can see the growth. And I don’t just mean like ball-handling or skill work or whatever. You just see the fit into the culture, he’s playing harder, he’s giving more effort on D, he’s listening, he’s trying to become a complete player. And he’s got some stuff to his game. You know, he’s got a little shake, he’s got a quick release, he’s got guts to take deep shots, you know, things like that. So he’s really interesting to me.”
When the Raptors acquired Richardson for Bruno Caboclo back at the trade deadline, the intention was almost entirely financial. The Kings were willing to take Caboclo on and give the Raptors additional breathing room under the tax (it did not end up mattering but still saved real dollars that, along with an estimated $2.2-million luxury tax disbursement for avoiding the tax, can theoretically be rolled into the 2018-19 budget), and as a cost, the Raptors had to take on Richardson’s guarantee for 2018-19 at slightly above the minimum. It seemed mostly like bookkeeping, and Richardson’s shaky sophomore season left optimism about his future at a nadir.