This week, league executives and any player agent are in Chicago for the NBA draft, which also serves as a base for meetings as teams begin to shop in earnest to see what is available to improve themselves next season, both via free agency and trade. But the Toronto Raptors’ plan for how to deal with this moment began a long time ago.
It’s been less than 24 hours since the team crashed out of the NBA playoffs, but coach Nick Norse already had a wish list for how they could improve. As a 48-win team with a young roster that includes the Rookie of the Year, the Raptors have a solid base to build on, but they have—and they have—clear needs.
“You can’t go into a season with eight or nine guys anymore, you can’t,” Nurse said in his season-ending media presentation. “Your ninth, 10y11y12y13y14y It’s better for men to be able to go out and play and not look like that over and over again. We have to get some depth to keep up with the times.”
Is there anything else?
“Maybe we can use the take-and-take method,” he said.
And while Nurse remains committed to the idea of a heavy slate with wing-turned players, who are six feet nine (ish) tall – in fact, he wants more – having a big guy can be a threat on both ends of the word would be pretty.
“This would also help,” he said. “I think this might take a bit of pressure off guys like Fred [VanVleet] and running [Trent Jr.]OG [Anunoby]those guys who can get a more open look in the corner because of the pressure that’s being put on the edge on the weak side.”
So quality depth, better shooting and some mobile phone sizes are on my wish list.
The question is what steps the raptors can take to add those pieces.
But first, the current status of the Raptors.
Before you started playing for the Utah Jazz, defensive announcer Rudy Gobert — widely rumored to be on the commercial market this summer, along with the four years and $170 million remaining on his contract during his 34-year season — for 15 points, 12 balls Rebound and three overclockers. For shots every night, there are some factors to consider.
The Raptors have nine players under contract next season – assuming Svi Mykhailiuk picks his player option for 2022-2023 – leaving them with six open positions on the roster to fill. But chances are that Dalano Banton and Chris Boucher will return, leaving four, and the feeling that Thad Young will still be there, too, so let’s call them three available spots on the list.
They will almost certainly work as a team above the salary cap but below the luxury tax threshold. What this translates to is that the primary tool the front office has to compete with for potential free agents is to use the Medium Level Exception (“MLE”), which allows teams that have crossed the cap to sign a player or players for about $10.3 million. And a maximum of four years. In other words, the largest single contract they could offer is four years and about $41 million — a big chunk of change, but it wouldn’t be enough to sign Bradley Bell, for example.
However, the MLE is a method that teams at the Raptors can use to sign a decent player. It can also be divided between more than one player. The Raptors (and other teams over the cap but under the deluxe minimum tax) can offer players a semi-annual exception, where gadget teams can use each year to add players, paying one player up to about $4 million. Two years. Both can be divided into more than one player. Toronto can also sign players to a minimum number of veteran deals to complete the roster.
Another thing to consider: The minimum luxury tax is expected to be around $149 million. The Raptors aren’t likely to put together a team with gross payrolls above that number unless they think they’re in a position to contend for the title, which seems unlikely at this point.
When you look at the list of Raptors in this context and compare what they need with what they have and the types of moves they can make, you can see why Raptors Vice President and President Masai Ujiri call for patience and inner growth. The path to gradual improvement.
But relying only on internal growth is not an option; The Raptors don’t have enough players and they need to get some.
Here are three scenarios for the Raptors to reshape their roster in the off-season.
The Big Boom: The Raptors trades with Rudy Gobert
This is one of those trades that gets traded, and the Raptors get in touch with it because they don’t have a valuable position and defense. Gobert is one of the best defensive players in the world – who just so happens to play in the middle.
Could it happen? In theory, yes.
The Raptors have all of their picks available to trade (after this June draft) and they can build a package around which, for example, Anunoby (likely with Gary Trent Jr. including) can work financially. That would create room for Scotty Barnes to grow alongside Siakam and VanVleet, and Gobert would immediately make the Raptors a better defensive rebound team, better at the edge and give them one of the best threats in the league (Gobert shot best NBA) 71.3 percent off the ground this season and 233 dives in 66 matches).
Will it happen? Mostly not.
why? Because NBA trades almost never happen, and big-caliber trades in the NBA in primes happen less often. Also, getting Gobert would be The Moving the birds of prey they would be able to wrap around their core. Is the team that includes Siakam, Barnes, Vanfleet and Joubert good enough for a challenge in the East? Is trading away one of your best defenders (and if Trent Jr. is included), two of your best shooters the way to go when trying to build a squad around defending and shooting?
Also, chances are that Jazz, in this year’s three-time Defensive Player of the Year swap, wants something more tangible to match Donovan Mitchell than Anonobi’s potential. Siakam will be easier to sell, but the Raptors will add a player that requires a playmaker to work on attack by trading away their arguably their best playmaker.
Raptors go shopping for two needs at once.
The Raptors may have some list places open, but that doesn’t mean they should use one for all their needs – even if they can. Only five players can play, so to get the most out of a nine or 10 player rotation, you need overlapping skills.
In an ideal world, the Raptors would add a person who can make threes and help as a playmaker, or a senior who can handle the Raptors’ defensive tactics while adding a three-point threat. In that context, there are some interesting names to watch that could add some depth to the Toronto winger’s spin.
Perhaps the most compelling free agent is Victor Oladipo, who appears to have rekindled his career in Miami after playing just 88 games since tore his quadriceps tendon in a game against the Raptors in 2018-19. The two-time All-Star player can handle both guard positions and is the type of active and useful defender who would be a good fit in Toronto.
The big question (other than how concerned the Raptors are at 30 years old and has a significant injury history) is whether the MLE will be enough for a player who was earning $21 million a year earlier this season. The other issue is whether Miami — which has pumped a season and a half of development into Oladipo — will be willing to allow a player who is part of a championship rotation contending for a championship run when they have the ability to match or overtake any player. an offer.
Another possibility? What about the former Raptor Dillon Wright? When she bumped into him about the trade deadline, the Atlanta Hawks guard wasn’t open to returning to the Raptors. “Make it happen,” he joked.
The six-year-old veteran is now 30 but has always been throughout his career and has always been comfortable sitting on the bench. His nose for the ball remains flawless, he averaged 3.7 deflections per/36 minutes (like the Raptors leader Vanfleet) for the Hawks’ neutral defense this past season and averaged two turns per/36 over his career. The pass-to-turn ratio is better than 3:1 in his career and he has shot 37.3 of three over the past three seasons.
He’s off a three-year deal for $28 million, so something in the MLE range seems like a reasonable contract given that he only averaged 18.9 minutes per game in the crowded Hawks backcourt. Tell him to bring it home.
Raptors go hunting.
Toronto appreciates multi-position players who can play on both ends of the earth and hey, who doesn’t? But sometimes it’s nice to have someone on your list who can do one job well and make it easier for others to do theirs. Could this be the approach the Raptors use to tackle shooting problems?
It’s a problem, given that Toronto was 14 years oldy Out of 16 playoff teams in True Shooting percentage and 27y Among the 30 teams in the regular season. The range of free agents isn’t particularly deep this summer, but there are some names that could fill a gap for the Raptors and could be in their price range.
Gary Harris hit 38.4 percent of Orlando’s three goals this past season and has improved as a playmaker and manager of ball during his career. As a bonus, the six-foot-27 is a troublesome defender who has started 26 playoffs in his career. He’s coming off a four-year, $84 million contract, so MLE could be a big deal to him, and making sure he’s comfortable coming off the bench would be another consideration.
Another option could be Bryn Forbes, who is the anti-Raptor in that he’s a six-foot-two keeper with limited utility if he’s not hitting the ball. He’s not tall or tacky, but Forbes is one of the world’s top players at his best: His 41.3 percent career mark of three is seventh among active players, trailing only Carey, Joe Harris, Desmond Payne, Luke Kennard and Klay Thompson. He played for $4.5 million last season, so it should be affordable.
An off-board option? How about you walk around the Miami Heat to see if Duncan Robinson is available.
The fourth-year winger was a DNP-CD three times in the Heat’s 11 playoffs prior to the Eastern Conference Finals and played sparingly as the Heat used Max Strauss and Oladipo in his place.
But Robinson started every game for Miami in his run to the Finals two seasons ago, hitting 39.7 percent from three games along the way. He had a ‘off’ year last season, shooting just 37 percent of three on high volume, but the previous two seasons he broke 42.7 percent of his triples in 8.4 attempts for the game, which is about as good as he gets.
Robinson has four years and $74 million left on his deal. Will you bring back The Heat Gary Trent Jr. to trade? The Raptors might give up defensively a bit (although Robinson is at least a qualified defender, and has a good size at six-foot-eight), but they get a better shooter and they cost certainty: who knows what Trent Jr. is going for. Looking for her in the summer of ’23 as a freelancer if he had another strong or better year with the Raptors? Also, Robinson knows his role: spreading the floor and cutting the ball to make way for his teammates and penalizing teams that over-help.
The Raptors were dying for that kind of presence against Philadelphia in the playoffs, and with Siakam, Anonobi and Barnes all comfortable putting the ball on the floor, having someone do it only as a last resort can be a good thing.
Meanwhile, Trent Jr. wants to expand his role and establish himself as a lone scorer, and it’s hard to see him accept a move to the bench if that’s what the Raptors need. In return, The Heat gets a young player growing up in Trent Jr. On a very mobile contract, his bird rights if they want to keep him and some salary flexibility to move forward as they try to build a team around Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry and their heavy contracts.