The Cleveland Cavaliers successfully completed a sweep over the Toronto Raptors, and it may have triggered more than the end of a season. Kyle Lowry is entering free agency, and so are others. What’s next for the Toronto Raptors?
A Power Forward Problem
The Raptors were arguably better last season, when they advanced to the Conference Finals and lost to Cleveland in 6. Then, they didn’t have Ibaka, as opposed to this time. Maintaining a effective forward at the four has been an issue, and it needs resolving now more than ever.
Ibaka will be a free agent this summer, and likely not a cheap one. He’s coming off a $12.5 million year, and he’s only proved his relevance even further since. There will be some choices to be made this off-season no doubt, but signing Ibaka needs to be priority one.
is going to cause the Raptors more than one problem. Patrick Patterson, PJ Tucker, Serge Ibaka, and (likely) Kyle Lowry will all be free agents. Norman Powell has a team option, but luckily enough it’s cheaper than his actual production at 1 million .
The Raptors will likely let Patterson walk, but need to sign PJ and Serge with a quickness. If Lowry’s mind is set on leaving, they’ll have to secure their role players, before solving the point guard gap.
Although his exit will hurt their consistency, Lowry’s departure will free up some cap space.
A couple free agents you can expect them to inquire about:
It’s unclear whether the Jazz are bent on keeping Hill, with as much as a free agency mess as others. A quality veteran and point guard, he has reassured fans that he is a top 20 guard in this league.
Out of all point guards available, he’s extremely underrated, coming off of an 8-million year. For someone who’s producing (17) points, (4) assists, and (3) rebounds a game, he may prove to be a great steal for Toronto come this summer.
is having the best season of his career, with San Antonio. Coming off the bench, Mills is averaging (9.5) points, and a career-high (3.5) assists. His value is still lower than most, and he may flourish in a starting role.
In addition, Mills is shooting (42%) from behind-the-arc, something the Raptors don’t necessarily excel in. The Spurs may be looking into signing a big name guard themselves, and give up Mills in the process.
has been producing off the bench for the Boston Celtics this season, and has come up clutch through injury replacement. In his eleventh season, Johnson is averaging (6.5) points, (4.8) rebounds, and shooting (41%) from behind-the-arc.
He’s played in Toronto before, but he’s getting close to the later years of his career. His best years are behind him, but should Ibaka walk, he’ll be a quick and cheap replacement.
Learning from Mistakes
When it comes to signing free agents, the Raptors need to be more careful than ever. In a Knicks like fashion, the Raptors signed DeMarre Carroll to a 4-year/$60 millon dollar deal in 2015. He hasn’t been terrible, but just isn’t producing as he did with the Hawks prior.
In the playoffs this season, Carroll averaged only (4.4) points, (2.8) rebounds, and shot a low (32%) from the three. Getting signed to a moderately sized contract like fifteen million a year means you have to show up in the playoffs.
If they’re looking to trade him, I’d suggest making the move now. I don’t think anyone is buying into his on-paper worth, but you never know, teams get desperate.
Provided Toronto doesn’t go signing Shaun Livingston to a seventy-five million dollar contract, they’ll be fine.
The Raptors have been nothing short of consistent in recent years, making five consecutive playoff appearances. Without the proper adjustments now, it may all go to waste.
All stats and information provided by ESPN, Basketball Reference, and NBA.com. Featured image provided by the Raptors Cage via Google Images.