NBA Offseason Outlook: Toronto Raptors
The NBA season is behind us and every team is now chasing the San Antonio Spurs for the title, which deserves a huge congratulations to them, and now teams can focus on the upcoming offseason. The Toronto Raptors surprisingly finished 3rd in the East, behind the Indiana Pacers and the Miami Heat, and finished 1st in their division for the first time since the 2006-2007 season. Although, 2014 was a huge accomplishment for the young Toronto Raptors, there still is a lot of work ahead of them if they ever want to become championship contenders. Unfortunately, the Raptors would need to wait a year to sign the free agents needed to become championship material as they don’t have the cap space this year to make a huge splash. Instead, this year will be used as a transition year in which the young players such as Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas need to develop and the core free agents need to be back.
There are a lot of ways the Raptors could go in six days; one of the ways that has been covered a lot lately is through trading up. There is no question that Syracuse guard and Canadian native Tyler Ennis had the best workout out of all the prospects the Toronto Raptors brought in so far and there are rumors swirling that they might trade up for the young guard. However, point guard isn’t really a need, and the Raptors have Kyle Lowry and Greivis Vasquez out in the free agent market that they can re-sign. Bigger needs lay at small forward, power forward, and center and I believe one of those positions will be targeted with the 20th pick. I would like to share all the workouts the Toronto Raptors have had but many of them weren’t released to the public and only such names as K.J. McDaniels, Adreian Payne, Tyler Ennis, and Sim Bhullar were released by the Toronto Raptors. You can read my full coverage of what the Toronto Raptors should do here.
Below is a list of the Toronto Raptor free agents
– Kyle Lowry- Lowry had a breakout year during the 2013-2014 season and should be looking for a huge pay day once he hits free agency this summer. Although, his body language and recent comments have shown his desire to stay in Toronto, the Toronto Raptors would probably need to over pay him if they want to compete with the United States teams. However, Kyle Lowry is a must re-sign and the Raptors need to do whatever it takes to bring him back to Toronto. Look for a 4 year deal around $40 million
– Patrick Patterson- The other must-sign is Patrick Patterson, which shouldn’t be all that difficult considering he is a restricted free agent. A lot will be learned about the Raptor’s feelings of Patrick Patterson between now and June 26th as if the 20th pick results in Adreian Payne or another power forward, the likelihood of Patterson being back is non-existent. However, I would take Patterson over any power forward in the 20th range due to his experience in the NBA and recent production. He is a key member of the Toronto Raptor’s bench and was one of the key cogs in the Brooklyn Net playoffs series. I have no idea how this will turn out financially as Patterson’s value will be different to so many teams
– Greivis Vasquez- Although, Vasquez is not a must-sign for the Toronto Raptors like Kyle Lowry and Patrick Patterson are, he is very important for what the Toronto Raptors, specifically Dwayne Casey, wants to do. Once again, the time between now and June 26th should tell us what the Raptors plans are revolving Vasquez and should be considered the first step towards free agency for the guard. Replacing Vasquez’s play will be hard, as there are not many guards who can shoot and pass like he can off the bench in the NBA. He recently stated that he loves Toronto and doesn’t want to leave but if the price gets too high, he might have to. Vasquez, like Patterson, is a restricted free agent.
– Nando de Colo- The French point guard is not exactly sure what he wants to do, he has received lucrative offers from clubs in Europe but may want to test the market in the United States first. Although, it seemed like a small deal at the time, the Raptors acquired de Colo’s services from the San Antonio Spurs for Austin Daye. Nando de Colo’s stats (as a Raptor) won’t jump out at you; he was a very useful and productive piece for Dwayne Casey as he provided rest for Lowry and Vasquez. He is the least important free agent for the Toronto Raptors this summer and can be easily replaced if he chooses to play in Europe or play elsewhere in the NBA.
The Toronto Raptors should have a relatively quiet offseason but have some moves they need to make. They also have the opportunity to cut forwards John Salmons, Tyler Hansbrough, and Amir Johnson if they want to due to their contracts being partially guaranteed this summer. (EDIT: my mistake, Amir Johnson’s contract is not partially guaranteed) I think Salmon’s is a no-brainer cut with Hansbrough being cut as well as the Toronto Raptors need money to sign Patterson and Lowry. I will be very shocked if Amir Johnson sees the open market. It should be a very interesting summer though for the Raptors and hopefully Vince Carter comes back for one final season as a member of the Toronto Raptors.
-Thomas Eurich is a Staff Writer for ProSportsExtra.com