5 Free agents Toronto Raptors should avoid at all costs this summer

Klay Thompson, James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson, James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages
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No. 1: James Harden

One of the biggest names hitting free agency this summer is James Harden. The onetime MVP has taken steps to adapt his game this season to playing alongside other on-ball stars, and he is far from the heliocentric ball-dominant star that he once was in Houston. He took even more of a step back with the LA Clippers this season, and for most of the season that approach worked wonderfully. Harden now looks like a player who could more easily fit into another team's system and alongside their stars.

At least, that's the way to spin the narrative if you are James Harden's agent.

The other side of the coin is that James Harden has forced his way off of three consecutive teams, has limited off-ball impact and is still a defensive disaster if you do anything but execute a switching scheme. And for a player who will be 35 years old before next season begins, those realities are not going to improve.

What's more, James Harden historically wilts in the playoffs. He will put up one good game to draw his doubters back in, then follow it up with a pair of duds. If the Raptors were to use all of their cap space adding a veteran star, the expectation would be to get back into the playoffs. That's not of much use if your "best" player is just as likely to disappear or hijack the offense as he is to lead you to victory.

The Toronto Raptors may learn over the next couple of seasons that Scottie Barnes is merely a Top-30 player in the league and not one day a Top-10 guy. They may learn that Immanuel Quickley is a low-end starting point guard instead of an above-average one. Yet they will never figure those things out if they add a player like James Harden or DeMar DeRozan, and their long-term future as a franchise is best served pumping the brakes, giving this team to develop, and adding prospects and young talent in the process.

James Harden can sign somewhere else to wreck another team's chances at competing.

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