Toronto Raptors: ESPN’s take on 2021 offseason is way too harsh

Toronto Raptors - Masai Ujiri (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Masai Ujiri (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors appear to be putting the finishing touches on the 2021 offseason, and considering that Masai Ujiri had to stomach the departure of Kyle Lowry while preparing to make their highest draft selection in over a decade, it’s fair to say that the tension in the air was palpable.

Luckily, the front office was able to get Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa back from Miami in exchange for Lowry while re-signing Gary Trent Jr. and Khem Birch to three-year contracts that lock them in with Toronto for the next few seasons. They also used the No. 4 pick on Florida State standout Scottie Barnes.

While they didn’t make any earth-shattering Kawhi Leonard deals, they managed to retain some of their better free agents while giving themselves flexibility for the future. Despite that, not everyone is convinced that the Raptors are heading in the right direction.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton, who does some fantastic analytical work, was not very kind in his assessment of the Raptors’ moves this offseason, giving them a D+ grade (subscription required). The only team in the East who received worse marks was the Cleveland Cavaliers due to their unusual frontcourt situation.

ESPN was critical of the Toronto Raptors’ 2021 offseason.

Pelton did point out the fact that Trent could enter unrestricted free agency at the age of 24, which is admittedly a concern, but that doesn’t mean the Raptors should be scolded for this deal. He’s 22, can score at a high level, and his best basketball is in the windshield, and they got him for less than what other top young guards earn per year.

One of Pelton’s main points of frustration seems to be the fact that he thought the Raptors could’ve gotten more than Dragic and Achiuwa if they traded Lowry at the trade deadline. Instead, they were forced to on Dragic’s hefty salary.

Still, getting a potential contributor off the bench and a young big with star potential is better than letting him walk for nothing.

The Barnes over Jalen Suggs episode may also play a part in this rankings, even though the Raptors seem more than happy with Barnes and figure to make him a huge part of their long-term future. The shock of the Barnes selection has completely dissipated.

The Raptors may not have pulled off a “2011 Heat” type of offseason, but they managed to get a young stud in exchange for Lowry, keep their top free agents, and use their No. 4 pick wisely. Saying they were only a few marks above a failing grade underestimating this front office’s competence.

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