Raptors missing Kyle Anderson was only early free agent failure

MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - MARCH 24: Kyle Anderson #1 of the Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - MARCH 24: Kyle Anderson #1 of the Memphis Grizzlies (Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors were in a position to be a bit aggressive in free agency, and Masai Ujiri leaned into his philosophy that emphasizes versatility and defense by retaining Chris Boucher and Thad Young. However, an inability to strike fast in quick succession after these deals prevented Kyle Anderson from coming to Toronto.

After getting his start in San Antonio, the Memphis Grizzlies made Anderson a valuable rotation player for the last four years. Anderson went from a player who wasn’t living up to his first-round pick status to someone who made his name as one of the key rotation players on a contender.

The Grizzlies were a bit less willing than most teams to splash the cash. Not only are they keeping some future flexibility in order to pay Ja Morant when the time comes, but Memphis might be willing to let one of their recent draft picks grow into a bigger role. The Minnesota Timberwolves recognized that, and they pounced.

Former Raptors assistant Chris Finch signed Anderson to a two-year deal worth around $18 million. Between this and Gary Harris choosing to re-sign with the Magic instead of bolting Orlando, the Raptors missed out on a pair of veterans who would have meshed nicely with the club’s style of play.

The signing of Otto Porter Jr. certainly helps to cushion the blow, even if he might be a bit riskier from a health perspective.

The Toronto Raptors missed out on signing Kyle Anderson.

Anderson’s last two seasons vary wildly in terms of impact. After scoring a career-best 12.4 points per game and pulling down 5.7 rebounds per game while starting 69 games in 2020-21, Anderson managed just 7.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game this year while being relegated to a bench role.

Despite shooting the 3-ball fairly well during his breakout year, as he connected on 36% of his triples in 2020-21 on 3.8 attempts per game, Anderson shot just 1.3 3-pointers per contest last year. Nick Nurse could have gotten him back to stroking it from deep with regularity, but it looks like Anderson favored whatever the Wolves are cooking.

Anderson won’t be a lockdown defender, but that sluggish, goofy style that helps him navigate to the rim with ease will help him perform well as both a bigger wing and a power forward in smaller lineups. He lacks Chris Boucher’s explosion or Thad Young’s playmaking, but there’s still a ton to like.


Anderson is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Raptors would have benefitted from what he brought to the table. Toronto keeping most of their heavy-hitters is a good sign for the future, but losing a name like Anderson is a small punch to the gut.

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