Anthony Bennett, the first Canadian player chosen No. 1 in the NBA draft, was officially waived by the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday after spending most of the current season with Raptors 905, their development league team.
In a corresponding move, the Raptors signed Jason Thompson, who played 28 games for Golden State this season.
"We thank Anthony for his professionalism and for his service to our team and community," said Raptors GM Masai Ujiri. "We know he's on his way to becoming an excellent NBA player but as we approach the end of the season Jason will provide us with a veteran presence that we need."
It's been a historic fall from grace for Bennett, who grew up in Brampton, Ont., and is two weeks shy of his 23rd birthday.
Selected first overall by Cleveland in the 2013 draft after playing just one year of college ball at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Bennett lasted just over a year with the Cavaliers. The 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward became part of the package, along with fellow Canadian and top overall pick Andrew Wiggins, sent to Minnesota in the trade that landed Cleveland Kevin Love in August 2014.
A little over a year later, after being released by the Timberwolves, Bennett signed with his hometown Raptors. He couldn't make an impact with the NBA club and by December 2015 he was headed to the D-League.
Monday's move marked another setback in Bennett's basketball career, which contains a few highlights but largely disappointment.
Internationally, Bennett played on Canada's FIBA Americas U-16 and U-17 teams, the latter with Wiggins, winning bronze on both occasions. Bennett was also a force for Canada's 2015 Pan Am Games silver-medal winning team, averaging 15.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
He was bothered by injuries, including a shoulder injury at UNLV and an ankle problem that caused him to miss two weeks with the Timberwolves that may have hastened his release.
Here's a brief timeline of Bennett's rise to stardom and rapid descent.
- 2008: Played at Brampton's Harold M. Braithwaite Secondary School.
- 2009: At 16, attended Mountain State Academy in Beckley, West Virginia.
- 2011: Attended Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nevada; Voted No. 1 forward in U.S. high school class of 2012 as ranked by ESPNU.
- 2012: Played one season at UNLV, averaging 16.1 points while playing 27 minutes per game.
- 2013: No. 1 overall draft choice of the Cleveland Cavaliers (first Canadian to achieve that feat).
- 2014: Part of three-way trade among Cleveland, Minnesota and Philadelphia that saw Bennett join the Timberwolves along with Andrew Wiggins. Cleveland received Kevin Love in the deal.
- 2015: Waived by Minnesota on Sept. 23 and signed five days later by the Toronto Raptors.
- December, 2015, assigned to Raptors 905 of the D-League.
- February 29, 2016: Waived by the Raptors