The free agency period in the NBA is one of the most unpredictable times of the year for fans. That have proven to be the case once again, and one of the sides that has been getting their fair share of attention has been the Toronto Raptors.
The 2019 champions are looking for another big season, and they look to win a second franchise championship, and Masai Ujiri has been working tirelessly to find the right balance between making sure the team will be competitive next season.
Meanwhile he has been also monitoring cap space to ensure that the Raptors could make a move for a certain Giannis Antetokounmpo next year.
Who Is Staying & Who Has Left?
The biggest question that hung over the Raptors as they entered the free agency was the long-term future of Fred VanVleet. The 26-year-old was a pivotal player in the championship-winning season but found a new layer to his performance levels last term.
He averaged a career-best 17.6 points per game and tying him down was the essential business for the Raptors.
Fortunately, the franchise was able to do that, as a deal was agreed to make VanVleet the highest-paid undrafted player in NBA history, and it’s nothing short than the point guard deserved.
Despite being only 26, he already figures in BetAmerica’s list of best undrafted players of all time. Click here to read the full list.
The crucial aspect of the deal will see VanVleet’s lowest-paid year coming in the 2021-22 season, where Giannis will become an unrestricted player. Chris Boucher has also signed a new deal with the Raptors, which will be welcomed by fans.
However, there are two huge losses that the Raptors must contend with, as Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka will both be leaving the franchise.
Both players were instrumental in the championship-winning season, and fans were quick to show their gratitude for Ibaka, who made Toronto his home for the three-year stay.
Ibaka looks set to join up with Kawhi Leonard at the Los Angeles Clipper, while Gasol will be making a move to the reigning NBA champions, the Los Angeles Lakers. Both players will be hugely missed by the Raptors, but the franchise have made moves to fill the void left.
New Additions To Roster
The Raptors will still be competitive in the Eastern Conference next season, but there will be a fresh look about the center of the court. According to reports, Alex Len looks set to join the franchise from the Sacramento Kings.
Len has bounced around the NBA to this point and previously spent time at the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks. The deal runs for just one year, and he joins the Raptors having averaged 8.7 points per game, and .8 blocks per game last season.
That isn’t the only player that the Raptors have picked up during the free agency, as Aron Baynes and DeAndre Bembry have also been brought in. Baynes is another centre that will be hoping to fill the big shoes left by Ibaka and Gasol.
Baynes brings with him a wealth of NBA experience, as he has played for the San Antonio Spurs, Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns throughout his career.
He won the NBA Championship in 2014 with the Spurs and averaged a career-high 11.5 points last season, which was four higher than the average recorded by Gasol.
Bembry will add more depth to the Raptors bench, as it was revealed that he had signed a two-year deal in Toronto. His four years of NBA experience have all came with the Hawks. Bembry’s best year with the franchise came in 2018-19, as he averaged 8.4 points per game and .5 blocks.
Last season, he averaged 5.8 points per game, but there is no doubt he adds something new to the Raptors roster.