The Toronto Raptors will have around $ 38 million of space in free agency next year. They’re are going to have a lot of options still on the table.
Toronto Raptors fans’ hopefulness of getting Giannis Antetokounmpo is now gone because he has signed a five-year $228 million contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors’ big plan in 2021 was to sign Antetokounmpo to the team during free agency. With that off the table, there is one question for Raptors team president Masai Ujiri and General Manager Bobby Webster: What now?
There’s a reason Ujiri did not want to sign Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol no more than one year. He wanted as much cap space as possible for the Raptors so they have a chance to sign Antetokounmpo because his value would be somewhere between $30-$45 million.
Now that Antetokounmpo is staying with the Bucks, what are the Raptors’ plans for the 2021 free agency?
Some free agent options for 2021
One option is that they could sign the other top free agents during the summer. The list of the top free agents includes Kawhi Leonard, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gobert, Andre Drummond, Chris Paul, Victor Oladipo, Blake Griffin, and more.
I don’t think Leonard is coming back to Toronto even if the Los Angeles Clippers get eliminated again in the second round. If he wanted to come back, then he would’ve stayed with the Raptors in 2019.
As much as I personally would love for DeRozan to come back, it’s not going to happen. It should not and it will not happen because the Raptors don’t need DeRozan and quite frankly, they are better without him than with him.
Gobert would a great pick-up for the Raptors because he can fill the Ibaka role minus the three-point shot. But I really don’t see him leaving the Utah Jazz yet.
Drummond can also be that center for the Raptors if they do not get Gobert plus Drummond is a walking double-double machine. But I do not see him as a great pick up for Toronto because he is not the ideal center in today’s NBA.
Toronto does not need Griffin or Paul because they have Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.
I don’t mind if the Raptors want to sign Oladipo, but they really don’t need him because they have Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet in the shooting guard spot, so there’s no need to sign Oladipo unless they trade Powell via sign and trade. They should not do that because Powell is more dependable than Oladipo in the last couple of years plus we don’t how good Oladipo is again due to the quad injury he suffered in 2019 even though he came back a while ago.
Another option is that they could trade for Houston Rockets superstar shooting guard James Harden since he wants to be traded. Harden wants to be on a team that is competing for a championship.
And if he somehow ends up in Toronto while keeping the core players of this team, the Raptors have a chance to win it all this because Harden’s talents can fit with any team in the league. However, they should still not do the trade.
To get Harden, the two realistic trade options are to trade Kyle Lowry and Norman Powell plus a couple of first-round picks for Harden or trade Powell and Pascal Siakam plus a couple of first-round picks for Harden.
Trading Siakam should not be an option because he is one of the best players on the team. If they have Harden and Siakam on the same team, they have a better chance of winning the championship than with only one of them on the Raptors.
As much I would hate Lowry to get traded, that might the way to get this trade done if the Raptors are really trying to win a championship. But they should only do the trade if Harden will not play the same way he did with the Rockets.
Even his skills fit with any team, his style of play does not fit with most teams especially with the Raptors. Harden holds the ball too much that it disrupts the team’s offense.
He should have the ball in his hands because that Harden can help him compete in the playoffs. But he should share and move the ball more because with the Raptors he does not have to rely on himself that much anymore than he did in Houston.
If he is not willing to do that, then the Raptors should not trade for Harden. But if they do the Harden trade, then I trust Ujiri and Webster and Raptors head coach Nick Nurse on how to use Harden on the Raptors.
Keep the team the way it is right now
With that said, the option that they should do is stay on course and keep the team how it is right now instead of starting over and rebuilding the team.
They could trade Lowry for assets like draft picks and tank the rest of the season. I don’t like that because it will take years for the Raptors to get close to what they are right now which is good enough to contend.
Right now, they can be a top-five team in the Eastern Conference with how the roster currently is. They also win the championship if they make a couple of more moves within the next few years like a Harden or a Bradly Beal if he’s available next year.
Plus, I do not want the Raptors to go back to losing and missing the playoffs every year.
This is good the way it is structured right now. Why mess it up unless it’s to improve the team that gives the Toronto Raptors a better chance to go deep in the finals than right now.