The Toronto Raptors are in clear need of a roster revamp after the disaster that was the 2015 NBA playoffs. What a revamp could mean will certainly have different interpretations, however the one certainty that I can guarantee is that there will be some change.
The current Raptors roster consists of (UFA = unrestricted free agent):
- Kyle Lowry
- DeMar DeRozan
- Terrence Ross
- Amir Johnson (UFA)
- Jonas Valanciunas
- Lou Williams (UFA)
- Patrick Patterson
- James Johnson
- Tyler Hansbrough (UFA)
- Greivis Vasquez
- Chuck Hayes (UFA)
- Greg Stiemsma (UFA)
- Landry Fields (UFA)
- Bruno Caboclo
- Lucas Nogueira
With this offseason’s salary cap being approximately 67 million before the dramatic increase in the 2016 offseason to 89 million, the Raptors certainly have some nice flexibility moving forward. They have approximately 49 million in guaranteed salary locked up, giving them around 18 million this offseason to re-sign any expiring players, and hunt for free agents.
We know that Masai Ujiri is also big on trades, so essentially no player is safe. It’s time to break down the current roster, and evaluate who should stay and go.
Lest we forget. Lowry was pretty much the sole reason that the Raptors won 49 games this season. He was playing like an MVP, and was questioned by nobody. We still don’t know what happened at the turn of the calendar, however I still believe in Kyle Lowry. The Raptors certainly need to better manage his workload, as his usage rate was absurdly high at points such as DeRozan’s period of injury. Things certainly need to change between Lowry and Dwane Casey, however there is no doubt in my mind that Lowry is still capable of leading the Raptors. Dealing Lowry would essentially bring this team back to square one – I can’t envision MLSE allowing that.
It’s funny how during times of adversity, it is so much more convenient for fans and analysts to say how they ‘feel’ about the team. Recently, Toronto Sun writer Ryan Wolstat called DeRozan one of the most overrated players in the league. Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail suggested that DeRozan and Ross are essentially interchangeable and that the Raps should deal DD and make Ross their shooting guard of the future.
Let’s put it this way – DeRozan is 25, has improved every year, is on a value contract, and loves Toronto. There is absolutely no way I would preach dealing DeMar at this point because we haven’t seen what he can do in a proper offensive system. His isolation game has improved vastly, however I want to see sets that encourage him slashing into the lane, and creating issues due to his athleticism – similar to a prime Rip Hamilton. Give the Raptors dependence on DeRozan to deliver, and the system he had to do it in, I would say he fared quite well. He was also the only Raptor to really deliver a decent playoff series.
If you get value for Terrence Ross, you take it and run. This guy is the guard-form of Andrea Bargnani –all the talent in the world with absolutely no heart. It seems as if this guy spends more time liking girls photo’s on Instagram and playing NBA 2K than working on his game.
The bottom line is that this is the type of guy who signs a minimum deal with the Spurs and excels in a back-up role. Keep him as a back-up shooting guard or deal him.
Who wants to play with me on MyPark #2k
— Terrence Ross (@TFlight31) February 14, 2015
It’s sad to think that Amir might have played his last game as a Raptor. Many have considered AJ the heart and soul of the Raptors. All heart and hustle, Amir Johnson has been the unsung hero for the Raptors on many occasions. He’s efficient, consistent, an extremely underrated interior defender, and a solid rebounder.
Really, he’s all you want… out of your first big man off the bench. The problem with Amir is that he’s solid – however he wouldn’t start on an elite team. His ankles are also a serious issue. Thus, if he’s willing to accept a discounted rate – think 4-6 million per season, then I don’t think you hesitate.
22 years old, European, and a center. These three factors paired with the 12 points and 9 rebounds that JV averaged in 26 minutes per game last season should provide you with some encouragement despite his erratic play and immaturity. There is absolutely no way you give up on him as this guy could turn into your cornerstone in the next year or two. Next year, we need to see a bigger development, and hopefully better management from Casey.
I certainly hope there is no future for Lou Williams with the Raptors. I really could care less about 6th man of the year. Give Alan Anderson the freedom that Lou Will had offensively and he would win the award as well.
Simply put, Lou was a negative on and off the court. He further instilled the chucker/isolation/hero ball culture into the offense, and took away from the team element of the game. Patrick Patterson emphasized this in his end of year presser. After DeRozan and Lowry, the Raps relied on ball movement and help from role players. This year, they would just turn to Lou who killed ball movement and took some horrendous shots. Naturally, he’s going to win you some games, however the inconsistency in that offense was evident during the playoffs.
2Pat is an absolute luxury to have. He plays with passion, and has really turned into a great stretch four. With that being said, he was asked to do a bit too much at times – he’s not suited to play when your other big on the court is undersized Amir Johnson.
Pat is an absolute keeper, and I don’t think there would be too many that see otherwise.
I’m not quite sure what to say about James Johnson. When he played, he was efficient, a good defender, and tough. Of course he had his weaknesses, but so did virtually everyone on this team.
The contract he’s on is an absolute steal as well. He’s definitely someone worth leaving on the roster. However, if Casey is going to continue to keep him in the doghouse, it might be worth seeing if there is some attainable value because he’s essentially being wasted.
To be quite honest, Hansbrough isn’t really good at anything. I don’t understand why he was starting playoff games, let alone getting any significant minutes. With that being said, I don’t see him as a player coming back next season.
People are going to hate on Vasquez cause of his terrible defense. It’s absolutely warranted, however he shouldn’t be relied on to guard John Wall in a playoff series. What he can do is come off the bench, stabilize the offense, and provide some occasional swagger. He’s absolutely one of the better back-up point guards in the league, and if Lou isn’t going to be back he should stick around.
Chuck probably had some locker room veteran presence. The fact that he is the Raptors’ ‘veteran’ is quite sad. Bring him back on a minimum deal to fill out the roster. Or don’t.
I was intrigued by Steemer when he signed. He played some meaningful minutes for the Boston Celtics a while back, and thought he might find a role as the back-up center as the Raptors don’t really have one. However, he never really got a chance – probably for good reason. I doubt he’s back.
This will likely be the end of Landry Fields’ NBA career. You have to feel for the guy, as injury’s really ruined his career. He was a great locker room guy to have, never complained, and was always ready to work. He also got a nice contract from the Raptors.
I think it’s safe to say that Bruno isn’t going anywhere. If the Raps get their own D-league team for the upcoming season, expect to see a lot more Bruno highlights.
See above – replace Bruno with Bebe.