The Toronto Raptors’ future will be irrevocably changed in the next few days, as the start of a very busy 2023 free agency period brings with it tons of questions related to which players the Raptors will prioritize and Masai Ujiri’s ability to execute on his vision.
Toronto may have seen Gary Trent Jr. opt into the final year of his contract, but Jakob Poeltl and Fred VanVleet are still up in the air. While there are rumors that Poeltl could come back to Toronto, VanVleet’s status is less certain due to the collection of robust offers out there.
The Raptors can’t afford to be lazy or start slow in this period. They need to put the pedal to the metal and make sure that they can accomplish the tasks they themselves have laid out for themselves. In a competitive Eastern Conference, any sort of slip-up could be a huge problem.
When the clock strikes 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday, the Raptors need to make sure that all three of these boxes end up getting checked. The Raptors have had some turbulent times in the last few years, but they can all be fixed with a solid free agency period.
3 things the Toronto Raptors must do in free agency.
3. Identify Fred VanVleet replacements
The Raptors will likely try to find some way to keep VanVleet, even with all of the associated pitfalls that could come with handing out such a ridiculous contract. If they don’t land him, which is entirely possible due to teams like the Rockets pursuing him, they need to find a backup plan as soon as possible.
One player that makes a ton of sense for Toronto is Gabe Vincent, the former Miami Heat guard who has shown he can produce in the postseason. Toronto appears to have some degree of interest in signing a player like Vincent if they are unable to keep VanVleet in Toronto.
Will the Toronto Raptors replace Fred VanVleet?
One player that makes a ton of sense from a schematic point of view is former Warriors guard and Knicks target Donte DiVincenzo. However, in a thin guard market, the Raptors will need to come out swinging with a very attractive offer if they want any hope of bringing him up north.
The Raptors are in a challenging situation. VanVleet is a very flawed player that is aging, but this free agent class lacks high-end replacements for him that simultaneously believe the world is round. If he leaves, Ujiri must look for a one-year stopgap before eventually finding a more permanent replacement.