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With a memorable 2021 NBA Draft now in the books, attention around the basketball world now turns to the off-season, where free agency and trades will determine rosters going into next season. There are plenty of questions looming over Toronto’s present and future, fans are now gearing up for a couple of weeks full of intrigue, hope, and nerves.
With so many storylines and possibilities to look out for, NBA fans will be glued to their phones, refreshing Twitter and waiting for the impending Woj bombs that’ll turn the league on its head and get people talking. Here’s a guide to get Raptors fans ready for all the madness.
How does it work?
The free agency period kicks off on Tuesday, August 2nd at 6PM EST, when the NBA’s moratorium period begins. The moratorium period is essentially the window in which teams can freely negotiate with free agents in their attempts to lure them into a contract. Any talk between teams and upcoming free agents prior to this point is considered tampering, and is punishable if a violation has transpired. You can read our full breakdown of the moratorium period here.
Following the moratorium, free agent signings can be made official as of 12PM EST on Friday, August 6th. News of signings will be breaking all week as information is leaked to members of the media, but will only be confirmed on Friday.
Who should the Raptors target in FA?
Toronto has two glaring needs on their roster going into next season: dependable centers and bench wings.
For help off the bench, we think the Raptors should look at:
- Malik Monk
- Kelly Oubre Jr.
- Otto Porter Jr.
- Doug McDermott
- Rudy Gay
Check out the full article here.
When it comes to finding a solution at center, here are some leading options:
- Richaun Holmes
- Nerlens Noel
- Kelly Olynyk
- Khem Birch (re-sign)
Check out the full article here.
What’s the latest buzz around the Raptors?
Seeing as Kyle Lowry is the biggest upcoming free agent, it feels like the whole league is eyeing Toronto very closely at the moment. It is still unclear if the GROAT will re-sign, be signed and traded, or just sign outright wherever he pleases. The best-case scenario for Toronto would either be re-signing the star guard, or trading him for a sizeable return.
Lowry’s move can have some serious implications around the league, and can turn a contender into a serious title favourite next season. Heading into the moratorium period, it seems as though Miami, Dallas and New Orleans are leading the charge for the 35 year-old. The Heat seem the most eager to add Lowry, after a failed attempt at trading for him at the deadline last season.
As highlighted by Josh Lewenberg, Goran Dragic would be the starting point in a trade between the Heat and Raptors in order to match salary. It was rumoured that Toronto was asking for Tyler Herro as part of the return package at the deadline, and I imagine they would like for him to be included in a potential sign-and-trade situation. I think Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster would be content if Miami throws in a pick as well, but that’s just speculation at this point.
The Lowry sweepstakes are certainly in full swing, with multiple teams reportedly ready to meet his rumoured demands for a 90 million dollar contract over three years.
Another big name that has floated around is Pascal Siakam. About a month or so prior to the draft, rumours swirled about a proposed trade from Golden State, which involved Canadian Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman and one or both of their lottery picks in this past draft. Since the draft came and went without a deal struck, I’d think that a Siakam trade would be unlikely this off-season. Still, I would not count out the Warriors, considering that they’ve targeted Spicy P for a while and are desperate to maximize the potential of their star-studded squad before their championship window closes.
Jarrett Allen, a restricted free agent of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is expected to be a top target for Toronto to pursue this off-season. The 23 year-old is coming off of a productive year split between Brooklyn and Cleveland, and looking for a big money deal, he won’t come cheap and will have a multitude of suitors. I believe it’s unlikely he stays with the Cavs, considering they’ve just drafted an exciting and NBA-ready centre in Evan Mobley with the third-overall pick.
Just prior to the draft, news broke that Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jarrett Culver was being shopped around for a second-round pick. The sixth-overall pick in the 2019 Draft has yet to really hit his stride in the pros, but a change of scenery might be what he needs to inch closer to his potential. A second-round pick is pretty cheap, and probably worth a look for a Raptors team that could use a developmental shot-creator off the bench.
Atlanta Hawks shooting guard Cam Reddish is also reportedly being shopped around, albeit for a steeper price than Culver. The 21 year-old former lottery pick averaged 11.2 points-per-game for the Hawks in 2020-2021, and had impressive flashes during Atlanta’s deep playoff run.
No matter the moves, Raptors’ fans are sure to be in for a wild off-season. With a strong core, a trusted coaching staff and an exemplary front office, Toronto is in a great spot as an organization, and can only hope to continue to ascend to the heights once reached as NBA champions.