What will the Toronto Raptors look like next season and moving forward?

Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol (Photo by Brock Williams-Smith/NBAE via Getty Images) /

After a crazy offseason in which the team lost Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green, the Toronto Raptors roster doesn’t look quite the same as it once did. Where do we stand now?

The Toronto Raptors are NBA Champions. No matter what the roster looks like next season, no matter what rebuild the team faces, you can always comfort yourself with that fact. Flags fly forever, and the Raptors finally got one.

But in terms of competing for next year, Toronto just took a major hit. Kawhi Leonard is gone to the Los Angeles Clippers, Danny Green is gone to the Los Angeles Lakers, and now, six days into free agency — since the moratorium started at least –,  the Raptors are left to pick up the pieces.

As of right now, the Raptors current roster looks like this:

As bad as last night was, that still project to be a solid team. They’re incredibly thin at the moment; Masai Ujiri and company have some work to do filling out the rest of the roster. But that’s a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

They can also bring back Patrick McCaw. McCaw currently sits as restricted free agent after the Raptors tendered a qualifying offer earlier this offseason. With Green and Leonard both out the door, he has a serious opportunity for playing time moving forward.

Possible moves

If the Raptors want to compete next year, they do have some moves available to them. Hard to believe, but even after losing both Green and Leonard, Toronto is over the cap for next season.

The 2019-2020 salary cap is just over $109 million. Without McCaw, the roster above still makes over $111 million with an additional $3.7 million on the books in dead money and holds. Whether McCaw re-signs or not, the Raptors will need to trade a sizeable contract to open up any real cap space this summer.

But with all the big-name players already signed for next season, clearing cap shouldn’t be a priority.

Instead, the Raptors should work with what’s available. With Green and Leonard off the books, Toronto is able to open up their Non-Taxpayer Mid-Level Exception. Using the “Standard MLE,” teams can offer a four-year contract worth $9.3 million in year one with 5-percent raises each season. The deal can also be split up on multiple players.

Toronto can use their full exception while remaining under the tax, allowing the team to be relatively competitive for next season without being overly expensive. They’re also likely to offer short-term deals, keeping the team’s books clean for the summer of 2020 and moving forward.

Don’t expect the Raptors to sign anyone major with the Mid-Level Exception. However, they might add a depth piece or two on the wing.

Possible rebuild

All that is possible if the Raptors look to be semi-competitive next season. However, it’s also possible Toronto doesn’t want to try to compete. Instead, they could look at a full-fledged rebuild.

In any rebuilding effort, Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka would surely be on the block. They’re useful players on expiring deals, and if Toronto is willing to take back some garbage, could net some assets for Toronto’s future.

Still, they’re all pretty expensive and all past their prime. Toronto might be able to get a few lottery-protected picks, but don’t expect a Paul George-esq return. If the Raptors aren’t able to flip their current players for significant pieces, it seems more likely than not they’ll ride out the current roster for one more year.

Looking at 2020 and beyond

If the Raptors were locked into Lowry, Gasol, and Ibaka for three more years, this team would be destined for the bottom-end of the playoff race for the foreseeable future. However, with all three players deals expiring after this season, Toronto is an open canvas.

Toronto has Pascal Siakam’s cap-hold, OG Anunoby, and Norman Powell on the books for 2020 and that is it. The upcoming free-agent class looks extremely weak, but cap-space is usable in any environment. Toronto has young talent, all their future first-round draft picks, and future space available. Overall, they’re still in solid shape.

Next. Breaking down how the Toronto Raptors lost Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. dark

Toronto isn’t a finished product. They aren’t set up for years of success down the line. But they’re okay.…. and defending NBA Champions.