The Toronto Raptors did not wait long to answer many of the big questions hovering around this team, as they managed to retain Jakob Poeltl on a four-year, $80 million contract in the very early stages of the free agent frenzy, though they had to watch Fred VanVleet bolt.
The replacements have already started to flow in. Not only was Dennis Schroder lured to the Raptors with a $26 million deal via the mid-level exception, but they proceeded to take a 76ers player away from under their noses when they signed Jalen McDaniels to a cheap two-year deal.
The Raptors’ roster is going to look quite different with VanVleet out and the Schroder/McDaniels duo coming in, as Masai Ujiri was very aware of the fact that he needed to make a handful of changes in order to keep this team competitive in the East.
As with any sort of new addition, certain players will benefit from it, while others will see their roles reduced. Who will ultimately see their 2023-24 season improve from these moves, and who will need to accept the fact that Toronto is operating on a different plane?
Winners and Losers after the Toronto Raptors’ free agency frenzy.
Winner: Scottie Barnes
No matter where you stood on the VanVleet debate, both segments of the fanbase were in agreement on the notion that Barnes needs to be given a greater offensive workload. After all, he is the star wing who has been consistently talked about as a foundational piece.
VanVleet, a high-usage point guard who often slowed the pace of the game down, leaving to join Houston might give the Raptors a golden opportunity to distribute many of his shots away to Barnes. After stagnating last season, the Raptors need to make sure that Barnes is performing at top level.
Scottie Barnes will improve for the Toronto Raptors.
Barnes made some strides as a playmaker, and losing VanVleet could put a nitro booster in his back. Perhaps he could end up as the starting point guard while Schroder transitions to a bench role? It would be one way to ensure Gary Trent Jr. becomes a starter and on the receiving end of Scottie’s passes.
Barnes is going to be at the center of whatever the Raptors end up doing in the new few seasons, and it would behoove Darko Rajakovic to ensure that Barnes can hit the ground running in his first season in charge. Without VanVleet, this should be much easier.