With NBA free agency set to begin Thursday at 6 p.m. ET, the Toronto Raptors appear to be entering a position of relative strength.
After a blessed 2021-22 campaign that saw them go 48-34 and finish fifth in the Eastern Conference despite predictions it would be a down year, the development year has proven to be very successful, highlighted by the Fred VanVleet’s first all-star wink, Pascal Siakam’s return to All-NBA status and Scottie Barnes establishing himself as one of the game’s brightest young talents with a Rookie of the Year campaign.
These positive moves have made the Raptors’ offseason quite comfortable.
The team has a talented core consisting of VanVleet, Siakam, Barnes, OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr. and Precious Achiuwa all locked down until at least the end of next season. And in last week’s NBA Draft, the club looked to somewhat fulfill its need for a backup center with the selection of Arizona junior Christian Koloko.
However, just because the Raptors are in a good place right now doesn’t mean they can’t improve, and they can certainly look to improve during free agency.
Despite the steps Achiuwa took last season and Koloko being drafted, center is still an area the Raptors will likely want to consider strengthening. Plus, given all the play offered by Siakam and Barnes, the Raptors don’t have a lot of consistent targets to launch towards and make defenses pay to crumble on them in the paint, so finding a point shooter – or even better a reliable three and D wing – would be useful.
Finally, it could fall to the Raptors to find a suitable backup point guard or shot-maker who can play with the second unit. Toronto’s bench woes were well-documented last season, and it’s mostly because there wasn’t a guy in those secondary and tertiary looks who could either get the team on offense or create something. thing for himself. Malachi Flynn and Dalano Banton have shown flashes at times, but if the Raptors are to take the next step, an immediate upgrade would be welcome.
These are the types of targets the Raptors might consider, but one thing to keep in mind, however, unless they can execute a sign and trade, big names such as Deandre Ayton, Zach LaVine and Bradley Beal will be out of Toronto’s price range. Indeed, the Raptors simply don’t have the cap space to absorb the maximum contracts these players are likely to seek.
Instead, Toronto will have to use cap exceptions to add through free agency and will have the mid-tier non-taxpayer exception (worth about $10.3 million) and the semi-annual exception ( a contract that can last up to two seasons and is worth just over $4 million) to use when the free agency madness opens on Thursday.
So with that in mind, here’s a look at 10 targets the Raptors could consider.
After four seasons with minimal progress, the Orlando Magic are unlikely to match the offers that come their way to Bamba if they are around the mid-level exception. At seven-foot with a wingspan of seven-foot-10 with reach to the three-point line and good shot-blocking instincts at just 24, the Raptors could definitely do worse to meet their need at center.
Another restricted free agent center. The Brooklyn Nets — with their depth issues — will likely want to keep, but likely won’t be able to match offers coming in at the mid-tier of non-taxpayers, opening the door for the Raptors to potentially acquire the athletic, switchable big. He’s not much more than a rim runner offensively, but he’s only 23 and his quick feet would make him a good candidate for Toronto’s various defensive schemes.
Coffey had a breakout season that saw him see his two-way deal converted to a regular deal as he started in 30 games for an injury-depleted Los Angeles Clippers side. In 131 NBA games, he’s a career 38% three-point shooter, so he could definitely help the Raptors in that regard. However, given his restricted status and the work the Clippers have done to help shape him, it’s unclear if Toronto or any other team might be able to wrest him from their grasp.
If the Raptors are looking for a knockdown shooter who can run their second unit a bit, Forbes would be a great option. At six-foot-two, he’s on the smaller end of the spectrum of players the club have seemed to lust after recently, but he can play both guard positions and is absolutely dead from beyond the arc, shooting 41.3 per cent. depth over his six-season NBA season, including the 41% he shot last season, split between the San Antonio Spurs and Denver Nuggets.
After being mired in a three-point shooting slump the previous three seasons, Harris shot 38.4% from that distance last season with Orlando. He’s more of an undersized two-guard than anything, but if his shot is back he’d be a good option off the bench for Toronto as a player who can guard ball handlers and create his own. offensive.
Jones is coming off a strong regular season and even stronger playoffs with the Memphis Grizzlies, which means his value as a six-foot backup point guard could be a bit inflated heading into the agency. free. That said, the Raptors probably won’t find a better option than Jones to help run their second unit within their budget. VanVleet’s heavy load might not need to be so heavy with such a reliable and durable lead guard as Jones.
When it comes to reserve guards, Monk seems to tick the most boxes for the Raptors. He had a career year with the Los Angeles Lakers last season primarily as a bench gunner and secondary playmaker – two things Toronto are currently lacking. Additionally, in his final two seasons, Monk has developed into a solid three-point threat, shooting 39.4 percent from beyond the arc. He’s on the smaller side at six-foot-three, but he’s only 24, has great athleticism and is a decent defender with room to improve.
Considering all he’s been through in terms of injuries, Oladipo still feels like a risk, but if he doesn’t eat into all of Toronto’s mid-level exception, it could be worth it. He had big moments during the Miami Heat’s run to the Conference Finals last season and would add another veteran voice to the room. His star-level days are probably behind him, but he’s shown he can still hit big shots in big moments, an invaluable skill for any team aspiring to make some playoff noise.
Position: Center forward
Status: Player Options
All signs point to Portis opting out of the final year of his contract with the Milwaukee Bucks and becoming an unrestricted free agent. He would be quite an advantage for the Raptors because he’s a long, athletic big man who can knock down threes (he shot 39.3% from that range last season), score inside and gobble up rebounds at two ends of the ground. There could be a dispute with him and Achiuwa over who would start at five, but it would be a small price to pay to acquire such a talented player as Portis.
The Raptors took Wright with the 20th overall selection in the 2015 draft and ultimately used his contract to help grease the wheels of the trade that brought Marc Gasol to the team in 2019, helping them win the title this year. Since then, Wright has developed into a solid playmaker, whose six-foot-five frame allows him to defend multiple positions. Toronto already knows what Wright can bring to the table, and while he doesn’t shoot hugely – especially from three – having a versatile defender coming off the bench while VanVleet takes a break isn’t a bad thing to have. .