I believe that the Raptors have to seriously consider entering contract discussions with the following free agents this off season. I would only expect to sign one of these guys, but here’s the “shortlist” so to speak.
I will start with Earl Clark who had a breakout year last year bringing energy to an aging Lakers squad. Clark had a knack for some timely rebounds and would give us the chance to bring Amir Johnson off the bench providing some much needed depth at the Power Forward position. Last year Earl averaged a career high in minutes, point and rebounds with 23.1 MPG (minutes per game), 7.3 PPG (Point per game) and 5.5 RPG (Rebounds per game) respectively.
J.J. Hickson had one of his best years as a pro setting a career high in field goal efficiency and rebounds per game. Like Clark mentioned above, Hickson would be able to start in the Power Forward position giving the Raptors much needed depth at that position. Hickson’s highlights from last year are his career high field goal % of 56.2, career high in rebounds at 10.3, his minutes were 29.0 and averaged 12.7 points per game.
May 16, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors power forward Carl Landry (7) celebrates after a play during the second quarter in game six of the second round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at Oracle Arena. The Spurs defeated the Warriors 94-82. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Carl Landry is another interesting Power Forward available this summer. Landry has never really been given the opportunity to start for an NBA team (perhaps due to being undersized by NBA standards for the position) the most games he has started in one year has been 29 back in the 09-10 season. Last year he averaged an efficient 54 FG% , 6 RPG and 10.8 PPG. If given the chance to start perhaps he could become a player much like David West another shorter Power Forward I will be discussing next.
David West is admittedly more of a pipe dream. West has expressed interest in returning to the Indiana Pacers already and it seems reciprocated by Indiana. If there had been a chance to persuade West otherwise how could we not explore that possibility? West was a key component of the Pacers season and playoff run. Over West’s career he averages 49 FG%, 7.2 RPG and 16.1 PPG. West has also averaged starters minutes (32.2 MPG) over his career, and has started all games he has played over the last 8 seasons. West is arguably the best player on this list of potential hopefuls, and would have been a great fit with the Raptors.
Last in my discussion of Power Forwards is Paul Millsap. I find Millsap a bit of an enigma, being quite an up and down player. He can go from scoring 20+ points to scoring less than 10 taking the same amount of shots from game to game. Millsap scored less than 10 points 13 times last year and 10 or 11 more often than one might think. His career numbers are hard to dispute however. Millsap has averaged a 51.6 FG%, 7.0 RPG and 12.4 PPG throughout his career. Millsap has been a starter for the past 3 years and has averaged 27.4 MPG throughout his 7 year career.
Looking at this strong list of players, I would be surprised if the Raptors are able to get West or Millsap (at least without a sign and trade) due to salary cap restrictions and how much the Raptors can offer. Any one of these guys are capable of starting at the Power Forward position next year, and as mentioned before, provide much needed depth at that position. Landry, Hickson and Clark however, are players I believe the Raptors have a shot with. Given those three I quite like Carl Landry. I wonder if Masai Ujiri will agree, or if he has any of these guys on his shortlist?