Free Agency Grades: Toronto Raptors
The Toronto Raptors are one of the best teams in the East. While the team saw their veteran center rotation of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol move to Los Angeles, they made some solid moves to recover.
Here are the signings the Raptors made and how each player fits in Toronto:
Fred VanVleet re-signs for 4 years, $85 million
Paired with Kyle Lowry, they have one of the best backcourts in the East. He’s a bit undersized to play the two but he finds a way. With Lowry’s contract up at the end of this season, he’s likely their future lead guard.
Fred got his bag this offseason and I couldn’t be happier for him. He was undrafted and undersized but didn’t listen to the noise, instead busting his butt to secure his position as a starter and a big money contract. That’s inspirational and honestly, he could have made even more than this.
Again, Lowry’s contract will be up soon and FVV will likely take over as the face of the franchise with Pascal Siakam. He fought long and hard to get to where he is and to get this well-earned contract.
Chris Boucher re-signs for 2 years, $13.5 million
Boucher turned it up late last season and re-signing him became a priority for Toronto, especially after Gasol and Ibaka left. He steps up when given the opportunity and should definitely get more minutes this season.
If he continues to improve, this deal could really pay off. However, it could also start to look bad should he be at his ceiling. I think this was a questionable price at first glance but could turn out to be a value move.
Despite his thin frame, he’s what you want in today’s big man as he can shoot the rock and protect the rim. Last season, in the 12 games when he played at least 20 minutes, he averaged 3.9 three-point attempts, made 42.5% of them and posted 16.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game with a +119 plus/minus.
Aron Baynes signs for 2 years, $14 million
Baynes was a huge recovery from the blow to the belt that was the departure of their big men. He provides a bit of what both Marc and Serge brought to the table and will fit in well on the Raptors.
I was expecting him to make about $8-10 million annually so this is a pretty good deal. He’ll probably begin the season as a starter so this is a value deal.
When Deandre Ayton was suspended last season, Baynes stepped in and played very solid basketball that helped the Suns go 6-4 in their first ten games without DA. He had a career year, surprising for being on the wrong side of 30. Aron has a chance to have a much bigger role this season in Toronto now and I expect him to take full advantage of that.
DeAndre’ Bembry signs for 2 years, $3.7 million
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson left town to go to the Minnesota Timberwolves so Bembry essentially takes his place. If they can bring out his A game, this could be a really good fit.
This is a very cheap deal for a player that can be a rotational piece for them and possibly have the best year of his career. Ultimately it’s a low-risk with a possibly decent return.
He isn’t a shooter but he is an all-around player that can really contribute in the right system. If his potential is ever going to be brought out, there is a strong chance that the Raptors will be the place that happens.
O’Shae Brissett signs for 2 years, $3 million
O’Shae will continue his development in Toronto. He bounced between the Raptors and their G-League team last season.
At about $1.5 million per season for the next two years, there’s nothing wrong with bringing a player back cheap while he tries to get better. Clearly, the Raptors see something in him.
The franchise has been very good about player development lately. This isn’t a flashy move but it could end up being a good one in the near future.
Alex Len signs one year deal for $2.25 million
After watching their two veteran centers pack their bags and move, Toronto was quick to assemble a rotation of bigs to take their place. Len is one of them and will have a chance at some decent minutes.
For the minimum, there’s nothing wrong with rolling the dice on the big man. He’s shown to be a rotational player on every team he’s been on.
The Ukrainian joins a new-look frontcourt and will battle it out for his playing time. Len was productive last season as he averaged about 8 points and 6 rebounds per game.