There are 3 ways a team can flesh out its roster: draft, trade or free agency. The Toronto Raptors, having punted their vague notion of trading into the just-completed NBA Draft, now must consider the other options. Let’s look at NBA free agents. [20-second timeout: If Raps’ GM Masai Ujiri wants to bring in some internationals for a trial, that’s great, but I won’t be offering any opinions on those players. There are too many, and I know too little to render an informed thought.]
The list of available free agents is very long, and while you can find snappy judgements on all of them, I’m going to limit my comments to players who would be a fit on the Raps, and who we having a puncher’s chance of actually signing. I’m not taking a position on money yet, as I’m reasonably confident Masai will be whittling down our current payroll. Once that work is done, we’ll all know how much money there is left under the salary cap.
As of this writing, Masai has not touched our starting five. The Raps are in serious need of rotation players, i.e., those who would rank #2 on each position’s depth chart, so let’s zero in on them.
Apr 30, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets small forward Corey Brewer (13) keeps the ball from Golden State Warriors point guard Jarrett Jack (2) in the third quarter in game five of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 107-100. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Corey Brewer is a 7-year veteran whose career has had its share of ups and downs, but he’s coming off an excellent season with Denver, averaging 24+ minutes per game [PG] while appearing in all 82 games for the famously demanding George Karl. He started only twice, yet averaged over 12 points PG. While he’s primarily been a small forward, he could be our shooting guard in an emergency.
Zaza Pachulia is not the stiff you may think he is. He’s a solid defender who will crash the boards, and is an effective passer. A cheap alternative at power forward [PF]…
Andray Blatche has about 14 times the talent of Zaza, and can back up both centre and PF. Sadly, it’s impossible to know when or if he will show up for work. I’d take the chance, but not as my first choice.
Josh McRoberts is another prototype PF who has bounced around the league. In the final 26 games of last season, he got a ton of minutes for the dreadful Bobcats and responded very well, averaging 7+ rebounds and 9+ points . Was that a fluke, or is he another example of one of my favourite clichés “Big men mature late”? I’d be happy to see him in Toronto, as I would Brandan Wright, who turned some heads in Dallas last season. He averaged 8.5 points in 18 minutes PG, which is one healthy ratio.
Mike Dunleavy has provided points off the bench his entire career. If the Raps want to play run and gun, this guy is probably the best backup to Rudy Gay we could have. If Dwane Casey wants his second unit to maintain a lead, then Mike, who’s not a defender, won’t get the minutes he needs.
Jarrett Jack and Jose Calderon are both looking for their next team, and both of them would push Kyle Lowry for the starting point guard spot. However, I doubt we can afford to bring either back. We do need help [UNDERSTATEMENT] at point, so how about Darren Collison? He’s consistent, but would rank about fourth on my list of desirables. Darren is too much a clone of Lowry for me, as is Will Bynum. I like my rotation players to be dramatically different than the starters. That leaves…well, not much actually. Devin Harris would provide enough contrast from Kyle, and a calm hand on the rudder of the second unit. I’ve always liked Mo Williams, but he has told Utah he won’t resign unless he’s guaranteed the starter’s gig. The Jazz have snatched away their contract offer, and Mo will find himself a very lonely man if he doesn’t drop that absurd demand.
I think we can plug at least two holes with satisfactory free agents. The issue will be cost. You can be sure we’ll be back to this topic before summer is done.