Greedy Texas team could try to poach young Raptors star this summer

The Toronto Raptors will try to bring back their young point guard this summer, but one Texas team could try to outbid the Raptors and steal him away.
Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs
Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio Spurs / Justin Ford/GettyImages

The Toronto Raptors have not had a single moment in franchise history when "luck" seemed to truly be on their side in building out a team. Perhaps the four-bounce jumper from Kawhi Leonard used a bit of "luck" but the team that won that 2019 title was built through late draft picks, savvy trades and internal development.

Without impugning the hard work the San Antonio Spurs have put into building multiple title teams, they have certainly had their share of luck in the Draft Lottery. In 2023 they rode a brand new wave of luck to winning the No. 1 overall pick in a draft with an all-time player at the top, French big man Victor Wembanyama. He will win Rookie of the Year and will likely be an All-NBA player as soon as next season.

The Raptors won the No. 1 pick one time, in a 2006 draft with no clear option at the top. They drafted Andrea Bargnani first ahead of LaMarcus Aldridge, in part creating their own bad luck, but even so they've never had a chance to add a player like Wembanyama.

Now that the Spurs have a superstar in place, they will need to start building a contender around him. They have a number of young prospects to continue developing into future roles, but with plenty of cap space they can also look to free agency for improvements. One recent idea that has been floating around has been that the Spurs should target a certain Toronto Raptors rising star in free agency.

The Spurs may try to poach Immanuel Quickley from the Raptors

When the Raptors traded OG Anunoby this past season, instead of prioritizing draft picks they looked for an undervalued young player who could break out in Toronto. That played ended up being point guard Immanuel Quickley.

The one wrinkle to that acquisition was that Quickley is a free agent this summer. coming off of his rookie deal he will be a restricted free agent, which means the Raptors have negotiating leverage with the ability to match any deal he signs with another team.

For max-level players restricted free agency doesn't bring any risk; a team merely offers the max and they move forward. It's when a player hasn't yet earned the max that things get more nebulous as the team and player negotiate in the space below that line. It also opens up an opportunity for another team to step in and sign a player to a contract higher than the team would like to pay, forcing them to decide whether to keep them at a higher cost or let them walk.

That's where the San Antonio Spurs come into the conversation. They need to find a long-term point guard to pair with Wembanyama, ideally a young player ready to win now (Wembanyama certainly is) but with plenty of time to grow with the team. Teams with young superstars have often made the mistake of chasing an older veteran and splitting their team along two timelines.

If the Spurs truly do pursue Quickley it would make a lot of sense, and playing alongside Wembanyama Quickley could become an All-Star. His combination of scoring verve, improving passing and defensive activity make him a great fit anywhere in the league but especially with an elite big man finisher.

The Raptors still hold most of the cards, and at the end of the day they could stomach signing Quickley to something close to the max, which is much lower for a player with Quickley's experience. Even so, the presence of suitors like the Spurs eliminates some of their negotiating leverage, and at the least Quickley and his agent can use that opportunity to increase his next contract.

Toronto won't let the Spurs steal away Immanuel Quickley, but the luckiest team in basketball may still make an effort and in doing so complicate things for the Raptors' offseason.

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