Jarrod Uthoff

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Dwane Casey: Jared Sullinger has Raptors’ starting PF job to lose

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Last year, Patrick Patterson declared the Raptors’ starting power-forward job his to lose.

Well, he lost it.

Luis Scola started most of the regular season before Toronto tinkered in the playoffs. Patterson claimed the job. Then, the Raptors turned to DeMarre Carroll with Norman Powel in a small-ball lineup. Finally, Toronto reverted back to Scola.

A year later, there’s still no clear, great option at the position. Scola went to the Nets. Patterson returns. Pascal Siakam and Jarrod Uthoff are rookies. First man up: Newly signed Jared Sullinger.

Raptors coach Dwane Casey, via Doug Smith of the Toronto Star:

“I would say Sullinger is the guy now that it would be his to lose, but I reserve the right to change my mind,” Casey said, citing the need to see how that group reacts defensively.

If Sullinger’s bar is defensive, he’ll have a tough time clearing it. He neither protects the rim nor moves well on the perimeter – making him similar to Scola. But Scola got the job last year with similar contributions.

Sullinger rebounds well, and he has some shooting range, though he hasn’t been selective enough with it.

Patterson’s ability to defend the pick-and-roll might make him a better fit next to Jonas Valanciunas, especially if Patterson has confidence in his 3-point shot.

There should be a place for Sullinger in the rotation, but if he’s starting at power forward, that speaks to a lack of quality options.

2014 second-rounder DeAndre Daniels signs with Italian team rather than Raptors

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Joel Embiid is reportedly healthy. Dario Saric signed with the 76ers.

That leaves No. 27 pick Bogdan Bogdanovic and No. 37 pick DeAndre Daniels as the only players picked higher than 50 in the 2014 draft who’ve yet to play in the NBA.

Bogdanovic, whose rights are held by the Kings, impressed in the Olympics. On the other hand, Daniels – drafted by the Raptors – isn’t gaining much traction.

After spending his first pro season in Australia and his second in the D-League, Daniels signed with Italian team Pallacanestro Mantovana.

He could have signed with Toronto, which extended the required tender – a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum, a team must offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights on a second-rounder. That would’ve meant going to training camp to compete with Fred VanVleet, Jarrod Uthoff, E.J. Singler Yanick Moreira and Drew Crawford for the Raptors final regular-season roster spot.

Daniels making the team obviously would’ve been his best-case scenario. But even getting waived would’ve allowed him to become an NBA free agent before heading overseas.

As is, even if he plays his way up to NBA-caliber in Europe, he can sign in the NBA only with the Raptors (unless they trade him).

Daniels has battled injury since leaving Connecticut, and maybe he realized he wasn’t ready to beat out VanVleet and Uthoff. Perhaps, it was prudent to secure the deal in Italy rather than what might have been available overseas come October.

But with Toronto having fewer guaranteed salaries than regular-season roster spots, this might have been the year to try out for the team – and at least open other NBA doors if waived.

While a questionable decision by Daniels, this is a win for the Raptors. They maintain his exclusive negotiating rights among NBA teams – without paying him or using a roster spot on him.

Of course, that matters only if Daniels eventually belongs in the NBA, and this indicates he doesn’t yet feel he does.

Agent: Former Kansas star Perry Ellis to sign with Hornets

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Every 2016 college basketball consensus All-American has reached the NBA.

Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn, Buddy Hield, Jakob Poeltl, Denzel Valentine, Brice Johnson were drafted in the first round and received their guaranteed salaries. Tyler Ulis, Malcolm Brogdon and Georges Niang were picked in the second round and signed contracts. Jarrod Uthoff signed with the Raptors as an undrafted free agent.

And now Perry Ellis is headed to Charlotte.

Gary Bedore of The Kansas City Star:

Former Kansas basketball forward Perry Ellis, who had successful sports hernia surgery Tuesday in Philadelphia, will attend preseason training camp of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets and attempt to make the team as a free agent, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, told The Star on Tuesday afternoon.

He’s expected to miss three to four weeks of individual workouts prior to training camp following surgery.

Ellis, who averaged a team-leading 16.9 points for 33-5 KU last season, does not have a guaranteed contract.

The Hornets have just 13 players – two shy of the regular-season limit – with guaranteed salaries. Ellis will compete with Aaron Harrison (unguaranteed), Mike Tobey ($75,000) and Treveon Graham ($75,000 guaranteed) for those final two spots.

I’d really like the chances of Ellis, who’s polished for a rookie after four years at Kansas, if he weren’t coming off an injury. Even if he’s fully healed to begin training camp, he’ll be rusty. As is, I still think he has a solid shot.

Ellis scored well in the post against college players, but the 6-foot-8 power forward has neither the size nor explosiveness to do that dependably in the NBA. He improved his mid-range and outside shooting during his college career, but he doesn’t have NBA 3-point range. He learned to play solid defense at Kansas, but his basketball intelligence won’t get him as far against NBA opponents due to his middling athleticism.

Sense a theme?

I wouldn’t be surprised if Ellis got a larger guarantee than Tobey or Graham. If the Hornets waive him, they can assign Ellis’ D-League rights to their affiliate. A small guarantee in his NBA contract could be designed to entice him to join the D-League despite its low pay if he gets cut.

But first, he’ll have a chance to earn a regular-season roster spot. And Charlotte has two of those, creating more opportunities than most NBA teams can present. There’s a reason Ellis, one of the most prominent undrafted free agents, picked the Hornets. Soon, we’ll see whether they were justified to pick him.