After stints with two organizations following a trade from the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013, Tony Wroten has shown to be the NBA’s version of a boomerang, coming back where it all started.
Wroten, a former 25th overall pick out of the University of Washington in the 2012 NBA Draft, only played in 35 games for the Grizzlies during the 2012-13 campaign. He enjoyed most of his success with the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2013-14 season. On November 13, 2013, he became the first player in NBA history to record a triple-double during their first NBA start.
He finished the season averaging 13.0 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 3.0 assists in 72 games. However, just 30 games into the 2014-15 season, he tore his ACL and missed the rest of the year. After a rigorous rehab to return, he was waived by Philadelphia just eight games into his return in December 2015.
Wroten thought he found his next home with the New York Knicks – a team constantly in search of a point guard – after signing a deal to join the club. However, he never appeared for the team despite feeling confident in continuing his scoring prowess from Philadelphia.
“No question. I see it even now,” Wroten said to the New York Post. “Not even being back on the court, I see it when I’m working with the trainers and strength and conditioning coaches and just getting back. I definitely want to play when I’m ready because I’ve been working hard for this,” Wroten said. “But I also want to be smart, too. I don’t want to be thrown out there when I’m not ready.”
After the Knicks acquired former MVP point guard Derrick Rose from the Chicago Bulls on the eve of NBA Draft night, Wroten’s future in New York was bleak. On June 22, the Knicks waived Wroten, ending his Knicks tenure without even one squeak on the Madison Square Garden hardwood.
It was surprising to see Wroten cut as Rose comes with his own injury concerns and the team was in need of a viable backup. A source told the New York Daily News that Wroten was cut due to an undisclosed disciplinary reason.
However, the Grizzlies elected to re-sign Wroten on Tuesday, bringing him back to the team that drafted him four years ago. If he can recapture his prior form, Wroten can be a potent, double-digit scorer. But the ACL injury will be a key to watch as Will Conroy, a University of Washington assistant, told the New York Post in May that Wroten tore that same ACL during his junior year at Seattle’s Garfield High School.
It’s believed that the original surgery was botched and the reason why he re-tore the same ACL. However, the time of Wroten’s new deal in New York, Conroy said Wroten looked like the same player that seemed on the verge of a breakout in Philadelphia.
“He’s got his explosiveness back,’’ Conroy said. “He’s a top-20 talent. If he puts it all together, the Knicks have gotten a steal. He can really get into the lane and finish over the top. He just doesn’t have the same pull-up jumper as Russell Westbrook, but he’s got similar explosion.”
Wroten will compete for a spot on the Grizzlies’ roster as he looks to complete his journey.