2. Khem Birch
After the Aron Baynes experiment as a Raptor failed, the front office turned to Khem Birch after being bought out by Orlando. Once seen as nothing more than a backup center, Birch has seemingly revived his career after a short 19-game stint with Toronto.
As a Raptor, Birch averaged 11.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, numbers that would be a career year for the 29-year-old. The Raptors rewarded Birch with a three-year, $20 million dollar deal in the offseason, and will likely keep him as the team’s starting center going forward.
However, there is a future in which Birch gets dealt at the deadline.
Will Khem Birch finish out his contract with the Toronto Raptors?
When the Raptors selected Scottie Barnes at No. 4, his fit into the roster looked like a questionable one. Barnes is almost certainly going to find a starting role at some point within the next couple of seasons, and with the Raptors having no plans on trading Siakam and Anunoby, running a small-ball lineup is a viable option to get all three on the court.
This leaves Birch as a potential odd man out.
Precious Achiuwa is also a candidate to overtake Birch at some point. Achiuwa was the main asset acquired by Toronto in the Lowry sign-and-trade and was someone that the Raptors coveted in the 2020 Draft. He’s shown flashes early in his career, but is going to have to develop as a shooter and offensive force to become the eventual starting center.
At age 29, Birch is not old by any means, but he also may not quite fit the Raptors timeline. He’s probably the safest player on this list, but accelerated development from both Barnes and Achiuwa could push Birch out of town earlier than expected.