With the beginning of 2019 NBA Free Agency quickly approaching, the Toronto Raptors have some high-priority players to target. Of course, as everyone knows, the team should have one top priority — re-signing reigning NBA Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard. However, along with Leonard, the Raptors should take a look at some other pieces that they hope to bring in.
Toronto Raptors Free Agency Targets
There are a number of high-profile players on the free agency market this summer, including Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Jimmy Butler. However, those guys don’t seem to be looking at Toronto as a potential destination, despite the city having won its first NBA Finals just over a week ago.
Toronto Raptors president, Masai Ujiri, and general manager, Bobby Webster, should focus on realistic options over the big names. While the above-listed guys might not be planning to play for the Raptors next season, plenty of other free agents could be.
Vince Carter had a profound effect on the Toronto Raptors and basketball in Canada. He hasn’t been a Raptor in over a decade, but he still has love for the organization, as the Raptors do for him. After announcing this upcoming season to be his final season in the league at 42-years-old (43 before the end of the season), the man known to many as “Air Canada” during his time with the Raptors opened the path for a reunion.
Carter specifically stated that he wasn’t interested in joining a playoff squad in search of the ever-elusive championship ring. However, he did say that he would play anywhere that he could have a positive impact on the team, both on-court and off. He wants to be somewhere that he can play basketball at a high level.
Although he wouldn’t have as much opportunity with the Raptors as, say, the Atlanta Hawks, he may still get minutes. Signing him to a veteran minimum would barely affect the Raptors’ salary situation.
If nothing else, this move would be an emotional one for Carter and the Raptors, one that would certainly please Raptors fans and NBA fans alike.
A key member of this year’s championship squad, Danny Green is one guy the Raptors should try to bring back. Although he struggled at times in the postseason (32.8 percent from deep in the playoffs) his regular season play was brilliant. In the regular season, Green shot 45.5 percent from beyond the arc, good for second in the league. Both in the regular season and postseason, he was a presence defensively.
Green had an impressive season for the Raptors, proving himself to still be an elite shooter and defender after a string of weak seasons with the San Antonio Spurs. That strong showing will likely make him more expensive than he was this year which, with the other free agents that the Raptors need to pay, could make it hard to sign him.
However, Green has been very vocal about how he’s enjoyed his time in Toronto. If the organization will have him, he would love to come back. That points to the possibility of Green taking a pay cut to make his return more affordable for the team.
Despite his struggles in the postseason, bringing back Green would be key for the Raptors’ future success. If he’s willing to take a team-friendly deal, don’t be surprised if Danny Green’s back in a Raptors jersey.
The Boston Celtics’ unrestricted free agent, Marcus Morris, would be a good addition to the Raptors’ 2019-2020 squad. He’s a tough, defensive-minded forward who can score comfortably from pretty much anywhere.
With Leonard and reigning NBA Most Improved Player of the Year, Pascal Siakam, filling out the starting forward spots, Morris would likely come off the bench, as he did for most of the year in Boston. He would be a key guy off the bench, a 20-minute-per-game contributor. In the 2018-19 season with Boston, Morris averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting a respectable 37.5 percent from deep.
Morris shouldn’t be unaffordable, so if the Raptors can bring him to Toronto next season, they should certainly do so.
Bojan Bogdanovic is one heck of a basketball player. After Indiana Pacers’ star, Victor Oladipo, went down for the season in February, the Pacers were expected to slide. It was largely Bogdanovic who kept them afloat, averaging 18.0 points and 4.1 boards on the season.
With All-Star point guard, Kyle Lowry, getting older by the day, the Raptors need a new third scoring option behind Leonard and Siakam. Although he’s listed as a small forward, Bogdanovic could easily start at the two-spot and serve as a second or third option on the offensive end.
Bogdanovic does fetch more money than most of the other guys on the list. If he’s searching for anything close to a max contract, he’d be unaffordable for the Raptors. However, if he’d be willing to take a slight pay cut to play in Toronto, he’d be a huge addition. If Bogdanovic values winning over money, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him take a bit less money for a chance at a ring in Toronto with the Raptors.
This is a no-brainer. Every team in the league wants Kawhi Leonard on their roster. The Toronto Raptors are one of just a few teams to actually have a chance at signing the superstar. They made their case throughout the year and got him back in the Finals, where he won his second championship.
The city of Toronto has been doing everything they can to get Leonard to re-sign in free agency. They’ve offered him everything from free meals to free condos in hopes of the Finals MVP staying in the city.
Leonard averaged an astounding 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds on 49 percent shooting from the field in the playoffs, willing the Raptors to some series wins virtually all by himself. If he re-signs with the Raptors, they’ll have a real chance to win their second ring in a row next June.
Outlook for the Toronto Raptors in 2019 Free Agency
The championship win makes the Raptors all the more attractive than they ever have before. Being the only international NBA team comes with its difficulties — players need Canadian bank accounts, need to go through customs whenever they have an away game, and so much more. However, fresh off of an NBA Finals victory, free agents might view Toronto as a destination now more than ever.
Honestly, if all Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster do in free agency is re-sign Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors are set. However, adding (or bringing back) any of the four other guys listed could be key in returning to the Finals.
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