It's shaping up to be another important offseason for the Toronto Raptors.
After missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years, the Raptors will be looking to make the necessary moves to get back on the path towards contention. It starts on July 29, when the Raptors will select No. 4 in the 2021 NBA Draft. They will then have some decisions to make in free agency, which opens on Aug. 2.
Ahead of free agency, all eyes will be on Kyle Lowry. It's possible Lowry will return to the Raptors, but him leaving would pave the way for them to have a decent amount of money to spend in free agency. According to Keith Smith of RealGM, Toronto can create as much as $34.2 million in cap space this offseason, putting it behind only the New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks for most in the league.
As ESPN's Bobby Marks notes, this could be the "last time for the foreseeable future" that the Raptors have cap space to sign an outside free agent.
If the Raptors do end with that sort of cap space, who could they target?
It's hard to know what Toronto's guard rotation will look like next season. Fred VanVleet and Malachi Flynn are both under contract until 2023-24, but the Raptors could lose Lowry, as he will become an unrestricted free agent at the season's end. A six-time All-Star and one-time champion, there should be plenty of interest in Lowry around the league.
Additionally, Gary Trent Jr. will be a restricted free agent. The Raptors will have the option of matching any contract Trent receives in free agency, but how high are they willing to go?
Lonzo Ball, G, New Orleans Pelicans (RFA) - The No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Ball hasn't developed into the star many thought he could be coming into the league, but he's become a legitimate threat from the 3-point line and is both a smart passer and disruptive defender. Like Trent, Ball will be a restricted free agent, though Shams Charania of The Athletic recently reported that the Pelicans are "unlikely to match a significant offer sheet" on him. The Pelicans' reported interest in Lowry could make this a potential sign-and-trade.
Victor Oladipo, G, Miami Heat (UFA) - Acquired at this season's trade deadline, Oladipo appeared in only four games with the Heat before suffering a season-ending injury. The two-time All-Star has now been limited to 88 games over the last three seasons. Concerning as his injury history is - Oladipo has undergone two surgeries on his right quadriceps tendon over the last three years - would a team like the Raptors be interested in signing him to a prove-it deal? ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Oladipo "could be cleared to return to full-contact basketball as soon as November."
Three more: Norman Powell, G, Portland Trail Blazers (PO); Tim Hardaway Jr., G, Dallas Mavericks (UFA); Duncan Robinson, G/F, Miami Heat (RFA)
The Raptors have three forwards in their rotation under contract for next season in Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Chris Boucher. Still, the Raptors could look to add to their depth at forward and/or target someone who can address some of their greatest needs.
DeMar DeRozan, G/F, San Antonio Spurs (UFA) - DeRozan spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Raptors and is widely considered to be one of the best players in franchise history. Who knows if DeRozan and the Raptors would be interested in a reunion - they didn't exactly end on the best of terms and he's not on the same development timeline as VanVleet, Siakam and Anunoby - but Toronto could have enough cap space to pursue him in free agency and could do with more playmaking in the backcourt. DeRozan is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 21.6 points and 6.9 assists per game.
Will Barton, G/F, Denver Nuggets (PO) - According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Barton has declined his $14.7 million player option for next season, setting him up to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Wojnarowski adds that there is "strong interest" between the Nuggets and Barton to negotiate a new deal once free agency opens, but it wouldn't be a surprise if he receives interest from teams in need of a scoring punch if they can't come to terms on a new contract.
Doug McDermott, F, Indiana Pacers (UFA) - McDermott has long been one of the league's most accurate marksmen. Over the last two seasons, he's averaged 11.9 points per game while shooting 41.2 percent shooting from 3-point range on decent volume (4.3 3PA). McDermott is also one of the league's best cutters at his position. According to NBA.com, only 19 players scored more points off of cuts than him in 2020-21, a group made up mostly of big men.
Three more: Tony Snell, G/F, Atlanta Hawks (UFA); Jeff Green, F/C, Brooklyn Nets (UFA); Otto Porter Jr., F, Orlando Magic (UFA)
The center position was a weakness for the Raptors in the 2020-21 season. Aron Baynes began the season as Toronto's starter at the five, but the Raptors switched things up by game No. 28, going small with a frontcourt of Powell, Siakam and Anunoby. They then closed the season with Khem Birch as their starting center after he was bought out by the Orlando Magic around the trade deadline.
Baynes has a team option worth $7.3 million for the 2021-22 season and Birch will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. Boucher is still under contract for one more season, but the Raptors could find themselves in a similar position as last offseason - having to rebuild their center rotation almost from scratch - depending on what happens with Baynes and Birch.
Nerlens Noel, C, New York Knicks (UFA) - According to SNY's Ian Begley, the Raptors are among the teams that are "expected to have interest" in Noel this offseason. The No. 6 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, Noel is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career. While he scored only 5.1 points per game, he averaged his most rebounds (6.4) since his sophomore season to go along with a career-best 2.2 blocks.
Richaun Holmes, C, Sacramento Kings (UFA) - Following a breakout season with the Kings in 2019-20, Holmes averaged career-highs across the board of 14.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.6. blocks per game in 2020-21. The 27-year-old has developed into one of the league's best rollers and cutters. He doesn't offer much in the floor spacing department, but Holmes can keep defences honest with his floater.
Kelly Olynyk, F/C, Houston Rockets (UFA) - Olynyk thrived in a leading role with the Rockets this season. In 27 games, 24 of which he started in, he averaged 19.0 points, 8.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists on .545/.392/.844 shooting splits. Previously, Olynyk proved himself to be a valuable role player as a member of the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat, providing 3-point shooting, offensive rebounding and solid court vision off the bench. A native of Toronto, there are obvious hometown ties.
Jarrett Allen, C, Cleveland Cavaliers (RFA) - One of the league's best young big men, NBA.com's Nacho Losilla had Allen as the No. 1 center available in this year's free agent class. According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the Raptors are among the teams expected to have "some level of interest" in Allen this offseason, but him being a restricted free agent gives the Cavaliers the option of matching any offer he receives. Unlike the situation with Ball, it seems like the Cavaliers are prepared to sign Allen to a big extension.
Andre Drummond, C, Los Angeles Lakers (UFA) - The Raptors have reportedly shown interest in Drummond in the past. His value isn't as high as it once was - he was an All-Star in 2015-16 and 2017-18 - but Drummond is still one of the league's best rebounders, as well as a capable defender when he's locked in.
Three more: Montrezl Harrell, C, Los Angeles Lakers (PO); Lauri Markkanen, F/C, Chicago Bulls (RFA); Daniel Theis, C, Chicago Bulls (UFA)
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