For the first time since 2013, the NBA Playoffs will not feature the Toronto Raptors.
It's largely uncharted territory for a franchise that saw a seven-year postseason streak highlighted by an NBA title just two seasons ago. Now, the focus shifts to what could prove to be a busy offseason period.
Here's a look at what's to come for the Raptors…
Upcoming free agents
Another busy offseason awaits the Raptors.
First and foremost, Kyle Lowry is set to be an unrestricted free agent, allowing the six-time All-Star to sign with any team in the league. There was reportedly interest in Lowry from a number of teams around this season's trade deadline and The Athletic's Sam Amick recently reported that the Philadelphia 76ers "still plan on pursuing him by way of a possible sign-and-trade."
"There's teams with money and not a lot of players, so I think he's going to do really well," one general manager told Amick about Lowry's market.
Additionally, Stanley Johnson and Khem Birch will both be unrestricted free agents while Gary Trent Jr. will be a restricted free agent, giving the Raptors an opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs with another team.
The Raptors will also have a decision to make with Aron Baynes, who has a team option worth $7.3 million for the 2021-22 season.
|Unrestricted Free Agent(s)||Restricted Free Agent(s)||Team Option|
|Kyle Lowry||Gary Trent Jr.||Aron Baynes|
According to RealGM's Keith Smith , the maximum amount of cap space the Raptors could have this offseason is $34.2 million.
- Scott Rafferty ( @crabdribbles )
The 2021 NBA Draft
According to Tankathon , the Raptors have a 31.9 percent chance to land a top-four pick. You can see their odds to land each lottery pick below.
|Team||Pick No. 1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14|
Although a 7.5 percent chance to win the lottery may not seem like much, it's worth noting that when the New Orleans Pelicans won the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery and were presented with the opportunity to select a franchise-altering talent in Zion Williamson, they only had a six percent chance to get the No. 1 overall pick.
The 2021 NBA Draft class is expected to be a deep with talent, but landing a top-five pick would be ideal given how the top five available players separate themselves from the remainder of the class.
With that being said, the Raptors are currently favoured to select No. 8 overall, so who would be a possible prospect at that pick?
According to my 2021 NBA Draft Big Board , I had Florida State freshman Scottie Barnes ranked as the eighth-best prospect in this class. Barnes is a 6-foot-9 forward who essentially played point guard for the Seminoles in his one collegiate season. He's a versatile and capable defender with a 7-foot-2 wingspan that would give head coach Nick Nurse a number of options in how to use the 19-year-old prospect, whether it be to initiate offence off the bench or play in a switchy small-ball lineup.
As far as fit goes, the Raptors would be beneficial to land either Texas freshman centre Kai Jones (No. 10-ranked prospect) to help add some frontcourt depth or Baylor guard Davion Mitchell (No. 7-ranked prospect) to provide a safety net depending on Lowry's free agency situation.
According to our other draft expert Eric Fawcett's Big Board , he had Tennessee freshman guard Keon Johnson as the No. 7-ranked prospect, which, in my opinion, would be the best possible fit for Toronto if he were available at this pick. Explosive on the wing with a lighting quick first step, he would add a different element to the Raptors' offence that they don't yet possess. Defensively, he's quick, smart, aggressive and physical, right on par with what Nurse looks for in a player on that end of the floor.
- Kyle Irving ( @KyleIrv_ )
What does Lowry's future hold?
Lowry's tenure as a Raptor almost came to an end at the trade deadline but the team held serve, not budging on what it sought in return for the greatest to ever don a Raptors uniform.
Now, as unrestricted free agency looms for the 15-year veteran, the question of whether or not his time as a Raptor is up will agaian emerge.
It's no secret that the 35-year-old wants to compete for another NBA title and it's fair to assume that his hometown Philadelphia 76ers as well as the Miami Heat will emerge as suitors. But at what cost? Could there be a sign-and trade that nets the Raptors assets in return? Does Lowry sign with another team outright?
Is there a chance he returns? There are seemingly countless ways his free agency can go.
How much will Trent command?
Prior to the 2020-21 season, Trent reportedly turned down a four-year extension worth north of $53 million from the Portland Trail Blazers, a bet on himself to presumably earn a bigger payday this offseason.
The Raptors wouldn't have motioned to acquire the 22-year-old if they didn't see him as a part of a long-term plan but his restricted free agency makes the concept of negotiation a bit trickier. It's fair to assume that Trent, who is averaging 16.6 points per game during his time as a Raptor, will look to receive a figure in the neighborhood of $60 million given what he was offered earlier in the season.
Depending on Lowry's future, Trent could slide in as a starter in the backcourt alongside Fred VanVleet, which would be a promising duo moving forward. The question is whether or not Toronto will be able to sign Trent outright or will it wait for another team to set the market before matching an offer sheet signed by Trent.
It could get interesting.
Will Masai Ujiri get a contract done?
Say what you want, but the Raptors president is the biggest free agent in 2021.
Earlier in the season, General Manager Bobby Webster signed an extension to remain with the franchise but Ujiri's deal remained up in the air. In March, Ujiri said that "we'll visit this at the end of the season at some point. We'll be fine. [The] Raptors will be fine."
Perhaps it's much ado about nothing and Ujiri will sign a new deal once this year ends or maybe It's something deeper and it will require some negotiations to retain one of the league's best front office executives.
It's too early to panic but it's worth being aware of.
- Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)
One key stat
With four games remaining in the 2020-21 season, the Raptors have already rolled out 34 different starting lineups.
It is, by far, a franchise record for most starting lineups in a single season and, given the of games remaining and the numer of players that could potentially miss time as the season winds down, the number could rise once again.
When looking back at how strange this year was, the amount of starting lineups used by this team is a stat that perfectly encapsulates it all.
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