The ranks of the Raptors on the front line continue to thin out.
Chris Boucher, nominated to start in Pascal Siakam’s place as the all-star striker recovers from off-season shoulder surgery, could now be out for a month himself.
Boucher has undergone surgery to repair a dislocated middle finger in his left hand, and coach Nick Nurse has said the Montreal native could be out for three or four weeks. Boucher was injured during training at training camp last week and underwent surgery at the weekend, team officials said.
The Raptors have options to fill the place with a loaded roster of long athletic forwards who could devote time to it. OG Anunoby, Yuta Watanabe, Freddie Gillespie, Ish Wainright and Reggie Perry are all possibilities. Watanabe and Gillespie might be the most realistic. If Nurse stays true to his plan of exhausting versatile groups of different players, he has a place to experiment.
Even rookie Scottie Barnes will take the vacancy into account, although Nurse would like him to gain some experience as a senior ball manager during the preseason.
- Green day: It’s been over two years. What a few more months for Danny Green to wait to get his 2019 NBA Raptors Championship ring.
Green, set to enter his second season with the Philadelphia 76ers, returned to Scotiabank Arena on Monday for the first time since June 2019, as he made the NBA Finals with Toronto. However, there was no championship ring ceremony for him. He and the Raptors have decided to wait for a regular season game in December with hopefully a full house to honor him.
“At one point we thought about doing it in the bubble (NBA 2020), but I didn’t want to,” Green said Monday morning. “Then it might have been Tampa, but no. These were the only real options.
- Easy crossing: Making the trip for Monday’s preseason game, the Sixers were the first NBA team to travel to Toronto and face cross-border issues between the United States and Canada. There was hardly a noticeable difference from the pre-pandemic era, according to head coach Doc Rivers.
“It wasn’t difficult at all,” Rivers said. “I like what they do, honestly. You have to do the application and all that. Our guys were pretty easy with it. It’s certain.”
The same goes for the whole stay in Toronto: “A few guys went to a restaurant (Sunday) night and you have to show your (vaccination) card and I totally agree. I think everyone felt safe so that’s good.
- Björkgren’s back: A familiar face could be spotted behind the Raptors bench. Nate Bjorkgren, who worked as a nursing assistant for two years before leaving to become head coach of the Indiana Pacers, joined the Raptors as a consultant. He was let go by the Pacers after last season and returned to Toronto during training camp.
“We spent a lot of time together… a lot of years,” Nurse said. “He certainly knows a lot of the ins and outs of how I would look at things, helps me execute them. But he’ll be just what he is, just kind of a guy in front of the bench behind the bench.