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Yuta Watanabe Memphis Grizzlies
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Yuta Watanabe plans to play in Japan next season

Published April 20, 2024 at 2:17 PM
BY KEVIN BARREAU
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Memphis Grizzlies forward Yuta Watanabe recently took to Instagram Live to unveil his plans for the upcoming season: he's bidding farewell to the NBA and returning home to play in Japan, his native country. Watanabe's journey in the league began during the 2018-19 season with the Memphis Grizzlies after he went undrafted from George Washington University.


Despite having a $2.6 million player option with the Grizzlies for the next season, Watanabe seems poised to decline it. He joined Memphis through a trade with the Phoenix Suns at the deadline. Throughout his NBA career spanning six seasons, Watanabe has showcased his skills in 213 regular-season games across stints with the Grizzlies, Suns, Toronto Raptors, and Brooklyn Nets.

His standout moment came in 2020 when he surprised many by securing a roster spot with the Toronto Raptors. Emerging as a valuable rotation player, he featured in 50 games, averaging 4.4 points in 14.5 minutes per game, earning praise for his relentless hustle and commendable work ethic.


While he returned to the Raptors for the subsequent season, injuries plagued his performance, limiting him to just 38 appearances. Subsequently, Toronto opted not to retain him after the season, leading Watanabe to explore other opportunities.

Following his tenure with the Raptors, Watanabe spent time with the Brooklyn Nets and Phoenix Suns before rejoining the Grizzlies towards the end of the recent season. Despite enduring various challenges, including injuries and fluctuations in three-point shooting efficiency, Watanabe's contributions have been noteworthy.

Departing as one of the three Japanese players to have graced the NBA alongside Yuta Tabuse and Rui Hachimura, Watanabe leaves behind a commendable legacy, marking a significant chapter in his basketball journey.

Source RealGM : Yuta Watanabe Intends To Play In Japan Next Season
Source Sports Illustrated : Former Raptors Favorite Announces his Departure from the NBA
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