JUST IN: 5 Best Free Agency Targets For The Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are about to enter their first offseason since deciding to finally pursue a rebuild this past season. Masai Ujiri and company decided they had seen enough of the Raptors’ core at the time, deciding to go into a new direction.

The Raptors traded two of their longest-serving players to brand-new homes. OG Anunoby was dealt to the New York Knicks in the trade that brought RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley to town. After that, Raptors legend Pascal Siakam found himself a new running mate in Tyrese Haliburton when he was traded to the Indiana Pacers.

The new era of Raptors basketball, built around Scottie Barnes, had officially begun. The Raptors will now get their first opportunity to search through free agency for players they believe will fit around the young star.

With some maneuvering of their roster and cap holds the Raptors could create close to $40 million of cap space. It should be said that the Raptors will likely have some cap holds that get in the way of that, but there is a reality in which they can take that route.

There should be a solid group of players available to the Raptors in free agency that can help them push towards re-establishing themselves as a threat in the Eastern Conference down the line.

Getting the obvious ones out of the way first, Gary Trent Jr. is set to hit unrestricted free agency. He opted into his player option last season for the Raptors, which was worth around $18.5 million.

The price of what Trent Jr. could be worth on the open market is quite interesting. He has been a productive player for the Raptors for a few seasons, but both his role and production have diminished this past year.

Trent started the fewest games he has in a full season with the Raptors since joining them via trade with the Portland Trail Blazers. A lot of those starts also came down the stretch of a tanking season for the Raptors.

Gary is a quality NBA pro. He can be a bit streaky with his shooting, but overall, he is a quality scorer and can likely fit with numerous teams around the league due to his ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. He is also a fairly sound defender, who displays good instincts at reading passing lanes to secure steals.

He is the type of player that could theoretically fit very well in the offense that the Raptors are trying to build around Barnes. This should give the team enough reason to want to bring him back.

The only caveat here would be soon-to-be NBA sophomore Gradey Dick. His rookie season started slowly but picked up steam as it went along. There may be a desire to see what Dick looks like as a starter, running alongside Barnes. This could make Trent Jr. a casualty in the process.

Ultimately, no one should be surprised to see Trent Jr. back in a Raptors’ jersey next season if the two sides can agree on what his role and fit are on the team moving forward. However, it would also likely need to come at the right price for the team.

This is the other obvious one that needs to be said. There should be close to zero chance that Quickley plays for any other team than the Raptors next season.

Quickley arrived in Toronto as a part of the deal that sent Anunoby to the Knicks. He was immediately given the starting point guard spot with the Raptors and showed plenty of promise in that role.

Quickley showed a lot of improvement as a passer upon his arrival with the Raptors. A very common critique of Quickley during his time with the Knicks was the tunnel vision he displayed. That concern has largely gone away since joining the Raptors.

The pairing of Quickley and Barnes should be very effective moving forward. There were times after the trade where it was noticeable that the two were not quite on the same page, but that problem should be alleviated after a full offseason for the two players to train together and understand how to co-exist.

Quickley is set to hit restricted free agency this offseason. One should expect the Raptors to match almost any offer sheet that he could receive. In all likelihood, it does not even get to that and the team re-sign him themselves.

The Photoshop skills of our graphic designers, jersey swapping Kyle Lowry into a Raptors jersey, deserve a round of applause. All jokes aside, the greatest Raptor of all time returning to the team actually makes a lot of sense for both sides.

First off, Lowry should be an inexpensive acquisition for the team. He is nearing the end of his playing days and would likely come at a bargain of a price when it comes to the contract.

Secondly, the Raptors have a clear need for the backup point guard position. The team’s need is there and a veteran presence to fill it would be a good route to go for the team to pursue if they do not take one in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Thirdly, the intangibles of the situation speak for themselves. Lowry could be a great tutor and mentor for this younger group of Raptors players who are looking to lead the next generation of Raptors basketball.

If Lowry’s top priority is not one more championship, and he does not opt to chase a ring in free agency, this is an attractive reunion for both sides on and off the basketball court.

This is where things start to get fascinating. Patrick Williams is set to hit restricted free agency and the verdict on whether he stays with the Chicago Bulls does not seem like a foregone conclusion by any means.

In his end-of-season press conference, Masai Ujiri addressed three major needs the team will look to solve moving forward: backup point guard, a wing defender, and a backup big man. The team could certainly look to fix these issues in the NBA Draft. However, with their two picks in the upcoming draft, they will not get a chance to fix all three.

One of those needs will likely get fixed in free agency and Williams provides an excellent solution as a wing defender. The concerns with Williams are obvious: injury history and a lack of consistency. However, he still provides considerable enough upside to get behind a young team like the Raptors.

Even if he does not hit on the upside, he is still a quality player as things currently stand. Williams could play a solid role for the team, either coming off the bench or potentially slotting into the starting lineup.

The tricky part would be finding a price range to get him out of Chicago that would not hurt the Raptors in the process. Either that, or the team can pursue a sign-and-trade that satisfies both sides.

Enough good things cannot be said about Nicolas Claxton’s game. He is set to hit unrestricted free agency and if the Raptors can maneuver the cap in a way that they can acquire him, they absolutely should.

Claxton is a fantastic defender. Not only is he a great defender on the interior and a superb shot blocker, he can also switch onto players in space with relative comfort for someone playing the big man position. The Raptors were ranked 26th in the league this past season when it comes to defensive rating. Adding some defensive support at the big man spot would benefit them a lot.

He also provides a very good option on the offensive side to finish plays. Claxton can provide a reliable option as a rim runner in pick-and-roll sets for both Quickley and Barnes. His athleticism should allow him to be a consistent alley-oop threat from the dunker spot in general.

It should not be ruled out that the team could also move on from their current starter, Jakokb Poeltl, this offseason. If they do, Claxton could slot right into the starting lineup upon his arrival. Otherwise, the team could have a very talented one-two punch at the position.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *