Toronto Raptors: Previewing the upcoming 2020 free agent class

Jaylen Brown vs Toronto Raptors (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Jaylen Brown vs Toronto Raptors (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
3 of 7
Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Danny Green (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /

Second priorities – Better, but not great, odds

Joe Harris

List of players who made at least 175 threes while shooting above 47-percent last season: Joe Harris. That’s it. That’s the list.

In fact, Harris has as good a case as anyone in the NBA for second-best shooter in the world (behind Stephen Curry).

But he’s not just a shooter. Harris had more made two-point field goals than three-pointers last season and averaged more than two assists per games. He’s a shooter first, but that’s not all he is. The amount of money Harris receives next season is going to be higher than what the average fan expects.

With Kyrie Irving and (an injured) Kevin Durant now in the fold, Harris profiles as a perfect role player alongside them. But with Caris LeVert, Taurean Prince, and Harris all entering free agents– with Jarrett Allen and Spencer Dinwiddie coming up the next year — the Nets might need to make some choices.

The franchise has the cap flexibility to re-sign everybody. But does the Nets new ownership have the stomach? It’s extremely expensive to buy an NBA franchise, and Houston Rockets fans will let you know that a new owner isn’t always excited to pay boatloads above the cap.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving take up 50-percent of the cap by themselves. Adding in LeVert, Harris, and others will make the Nets a DEEP luxury tax team.

Joe Harris is also an unrestricted free agent, meaning he can choose to sign wherever he wants. A contending team in New York feels like a good situation, but maybe Harris isn’t a fan of Kyrie’s Youtube conspiracy videos, Kevin Durant furiously tweeting him from burners, or maybe he just says [Expletive] Brooklyn.

Caris LeVert

Coming into the season, it was Caris LeVert — not D’Angelo Russell — who was expected to have a breakout year. He averaged 12.1 points per game as a sophomore, showed some craft as a pick-and-roll ballhandler and facilitator, and by all accounts, looked poised to make a leap.

LeVert scored 20 points or more in seven of his first 13 games of 2018-2019. Then, late in the second quarter of game 14 against the Minnesota Timberwolves, suffered a serious leg injury.

The injury caused LeVert to miss 42 games — an optimistic outcome considering how it originally looked — and more importantly ceded the way for more D’Angelo Russell usage. With LeVert out, the Nets turned to Russell to run the show. He became the primary option, while LeVert was eventually lessened to a sixth man.

Almost a full calendar year removed from the injury, LeVert should have his fully functioning legs under him this season. With Kyrie Irving now running the show, he might not be any luckier in regards to receiving more touches.

LeVert is not a great three-point shooter, is an average defender, and needs the ball to be effective. With Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and others in Brooklyn, his skillset becomes duplicative. As a restricted free agent, the Nets will have an opportunity to match any LeVert offer-sheet, they just might not want to.

If Toronto offers him a sizeable deal, the Nets might be willing to let him walk. They’ll want to focus their resources on players who can be effective without the ball, as KD and Kyrie will be controlling it for the majority of the game.

Meanwhile, the Raptors don’t have a ton of players who require the ball or a ton of shot creation currently on the roster. LeVert would be a great fit as a shooting guard next to a low-usage defender like OG Anunoby and a point guard who is comfortable off the ball like Fred VanVleet.

If the Raptors like LeVert the player, he’d be a nice addition to their current core.

Buddy Hield

Despite playing in the NBA for just three seasons, Buddy Hield is already 26 (about to be 27) years old. He’s older than Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle, Steven Adams, and even Betty White. In terms of NBA prospects, he’s already in his prime.

You know who else is sneaky old? Pascal Siakam. Siakam is 25, and while he did pick up basketball later in life, probably closer to his prime than Raptors fans would like to admit.

Toronto shouldn’t be maximizing their championship window for 4-5 years down the road. They should be trying to win in the somewhat short-term.

And while teams can be infatuated with future success and potential, Buddy Hield is ready to help teams win right now. Last season he averaged 20.7 points, 3.4 three-point makes on 43-percent, and 2.5 assists per game. Players who averaged at least those numbers last year: James Harden, Paul George, Stephen Curry, and Buddy Hield.

Hield is the type of player who can play around anyone offensively but does need to be protected a bit on defense. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the hoard of defensive-minded wings Masai Ujiri is collecting this offseason, but perimeter defense isn’t going to be this team’s issue.

With Heild as a restricted free agent, Sacramento can match any offer Toronto throws at him. However, if for whatever reason, they’re not willing to match a sizeable offer, the Raptors should be aggressive in their pursuit.