The latest intel coming out of Toronto, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, is that they are expected to quickly agree to new deals with both Thaddeus Young ($10M over two years) and Fred VanVleet ($110M over four years), however there has been no word regarding the looming unrestricted free agency of Chris Boucher, or the extension-eligible Pascal Siakam. That is certainly not to say that they won’t also be priorities for the Raptors front office once the clock strikes 6:00pm on Thursday.
Another bit of information that Fischer shared is that the Raptors front office is continuing to closely monitor the availability of several marquee centers, including DeAndre Ayton, and Rudy Gobert. For salary purposes, it would be both difficult and illogical to piece together a package to land the Frenchman out of Utah, however Ayton’s situation – given his free agency, age, and drying pool of suitors – presents a more compelling situation. He would still have to be landed via a sign-and-trade, with the package heading back to Phoenix likely being centered around OG Anunoby or Gary Trent Jr., however the recent addition of Christian Koloko may slightly quell Toronto’s despondence for a seven-footer.
In order to fill out their roster (aside from using the bird rights on Young, VanVleet, Boucher, Siakam, and Bonga to go over the soft cap), the Raptors will have a $10.3M mid-level, $4.3M bi-annual, and $5.3M and $3.1M trade exceptions available to them.
Below is a list of five players – excluding the (still) unlikely scenario of swinging for Ayton, whom the Raptors can pursue in this summer’s free agent market.
- Bobby Portis
Portis has thoroughly outplayed the valuation of his $4.3M deal in Milwaukee, indicating that he plans to opt out of his player option for the 2022-2023 season. Across 59 starts and 72 appearances with the Bucks last season, Portis recorded north of 14 points and 9 rebounds per game. Fischer’s latest intel suggests that Portis plans to re-up with the Bucks on a long-term deal in excess of $40M, which the Raptors would be unable to match, as the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions cannot be combined. Still, if Portis is seeking a larger role – especially if Boucher walks – then the Raptors could have a strong value proposition for him.
2. Nicolas Claxton
It was reported at the 2022 trade deadline that the Raptors were close to swinging a deal for Nicolas Claxton, but ultimately Brooklyn’s price rose out of Toronto’s budget, and they opted to deal for Young instead. Now, with the extensions of Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, and Seth Curry on the horizon, retaining Claxton with his bird rights would cut deeply into Joe Tsai’s luxury tax bill. Still at just 23 years old, and acting as a little-bit-more-developed version of Christian Koloko, if the Raptors decide that their second round rookie isn’t quite ready to contribute yet, they might feel enticed to sign Claxton to a short term offer.
3. Amir Coffey
In the absence of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George last season, several players on the Clippers experienced great increases in their opportunity, and Coffey was among the players who leveraged that to his advantage. Another player on the right side of 25-years-old, Coffey fits the Raptors timeline well. He is a versatile defender, an adequate shot creator, and would be among the Raptors best shooters on the wing, having knocked down 37.8% of his looks from deep last season on 3.7 attempts per game.
4. Gary Payton II
After winning a championship less than two weeks ago, the Warriors front office is already among the busiest in the league. Trying to determine the value of Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Draymond Green, who are all either extension-eligible or free agents is a tall task, not to mention their gritty and high-flying backcourt standout, Gary Payton II. Payton was a member of the Raptors 905 during their Tampa season, however rather than calling up the eventual G-League DPOY, the Raptors opted for positional need over talent, and decided to sign Freddie Gillespie instead. Ultimately, hindsight is 20/20, but signing Payton using one of their exceptions would certainly help to minimize the regret factor of letting him walk. For odds on where players like Payton will land, check out sports betting in Ontario.
5. Mo Bamba
Imagine how much more fun it would be listening to Sheck Wes if Bamba donned the red and white of the dinos? The Magic have some big decisions ahead of them today, which were further complicated by the selection of Paolo Banchero. Having recently extended the contract of Wendell Carter Jr., expecting Jonathan Isaac to return next season, and trying to fir Banchero into their frontcourt rotation is already a bit of a sudoku. Adding Bamba to that mix – who is less versatile offensively than each of the aforementioned – only creates a further log jam. Not extending a qualifying offer to a top-ten pick is certainly uncommon, and Bamba is far from a bust, but because of the situational factors in Orlando, the Magic may simply opt to let Bamba become an unrestricted free agent. As an added benefit, refraining from extending the qualifying offer to Bamba could give the Magic up to $29M in cap room. If this scenario – appearing increasingly likely – ultimately plays out, expect the Raptors to be in the mix for the 7’2″ big man.