Delon Wright will miss at least four months following arthroscopic surgery to repair and stabilize a labral tear in his right shoulder, the Toronto Raptors announced Monday.
Wright injured the shoulder in the team’s final Las Vegas Summer League game on July 16. X-rays came back negative and Wright was diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder, and further testing revealed the tear.
The timeline suggests Wright is going to miss time well into the season. It’s Aug. 1 today, camp opens Sept. 27, the season usually begins in late October, and Wright’s time table wouldn’t have him back until at least December. Wright wasn’t set to see a ton of time out of the gate despite appearing ready for backup minutes at the NBA level – he played just 229 minutes with the parent club a year ago – but he seemed poised to at least play beyond garbage time at some point this year. The surgery not only derails the start of his sophomore campaign, it also threatens to limit his biggest offseason task, adding size and strength, something that was coming along quite well before the injury.
This ostensibly leaves the Raptors with only two point guards in Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph, and so while at one time it seemed unlikely that Fred VanVleet could make the roster as a fourth guard, it now becomes a lot more reasonable a use of the team’s 15th roster spot. VanVleet is on a partially guaranteed deal that will see him in camp with the team, where he’ll compete with Jarrod Uthoff and any other signings. Instead of using the final roster spot for forward depth, the Raptors may be in a position where they feel the need to keep an extra point guard, at least until Wright can return (VanVleet’s deal wouldn’t become fully guaranteed until Jan. 10).
The Raptors really like VanVleet and see him as an NBA-caliber player, so they’d likely be comfortable with him as the third-string point guard. He’s a steady hand with deep range who plays mostly mistake-free basketball, which is all you really ask for from a depth piece, and his role would be minimal given the names ahead of him on the depth chart. For those who questioned why the team would sign VanVleet given their existing guard depth, well, things like this tend to happen sometimes, and locking in a player they liked to a flexible, team-friendly deal now seems quite prescient.
As for Wright, it’s certainly a disappointing turn. The Raptors were happy with his progress entering Summer League, and they’ll have to hope the setback doesn’t slow his growth too much. It’s hard to peg down a return date, but the Raptors may get to experiment with using the D-League as a sort of rehab assignment for the first time when Wright begins rounding into form. That’s a question for the winter, though. For today, wish Wright a speedy recovery and be thankful the team was aggressive on the VanVleet front.Follow @raptorsrepublic