Raptors Rumors: Why signing four-time champion would be a colossal mistake

The Toronto Raptors should prioritize youth this summer, and one champion veteran in particular would be a disaster as a free agency splurge.
Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

It is the time in the NBA calendar when rumors grow like weeds, sprouting up from every direction to dominate the discourse as the offseason officially approaches. From the NBA Draft to the trade market to free agency, everyone is ready to share what they heard from so-and-so. Some such rumors are merely musings or ideas, and some are coming directly from teams and agents.

It's often hard to parse which rumors fall into which category, so often fans and analysts need to engage with ideas that are unsubstantiated to think through whether they would make sense for a team. That's part of the fun of the offseason, and it's a useful exercise to best understand what a team needs.

What do the Toronto Raptors need? Other than a clear direction, the Raptors' top need is 3-point shooting and gravity, both to boost the 3-point accuracy and volume of the team as a whole closer to league average, and to open up space inside for Scottie Barnes to go to work.

That need is likely what sprung to life a rumor that has been bouncing around the Raptors for the past few weeks: could Toronto be a potential landing place for Klay Thompson?

The Toronto Raptors may be interested in Klay Thompson

The four-time champion and five-time All-Star will be an unrestricted free agent in just a few days, and signs are increasingly pointing to a potential exit from the only team he has ever known. The Golden State Warriors seem reluctant to overpay Klay in either dollars or years to stay on the team, and he in return seems committed to testing the open market.

If Thompson does take free agent meetings, he will likely have a number of suitors. For all that his defense has slipped since he back-to-back leg injuries in 2019 and 2020, the Splash Brother has retained his volume from beyond the arc. Klay hit 268 3-pointers last season, good for 4th in the entire NBA, and the year before he led the league with 301 3-pointers.

There is no doubt that the Raptors could use his shooting and floor-spacing. They ranked 26th in 3-pointers per game last season with just 11.5, and only the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trail Blazers shot worse than Toronto's 34.7 percent from deep as a team. Building around a budding star with a shaky jumpshot, the Raptors need all the shooting they can get.

At the same time, Klay Thompson is clearly not the answer for the Raptors. For starters, he is 34 years old and declining every season as an athlete and defender. A team ready to win right now could justify adding him to improve their shooting, but the Toronto Raptors can't be prioritizing next season; they will be at their best in a few years as Barnes and Immanuel Quickley hit their primes.

Additionally, the cost to sign Thompson would be significant for Toronto. They would likely need to decline Bruce Brown's team option to open up enough space, and concurrently make an offer long enough in years to entice him not only to leave the Warriors but to choose the Raptors over other suitors such as the Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons or Oklahoma City Thunder.

The rumors about Klay coming to Toronto may have come from his camp, they may have come from the Raptors, or they may have just been the musings of someone that got spread around; there is no direct reporting, just the chatter of fans discussing possibilities. Yet if this rumor were real, it would hopefully be a possibility that Masai Ujiiri and company consider and discard.

Klay Thompson is a good player, but his best is well behind him. While his shooting would be extremely helpful, his defense and turnovers at this point in his career would erode much of that value, and when you factor in his age, injury history and the cost to acquire him, it quickly becomes clear that the Raptors need to stay awa

Next. 5 Moves the Toronto Raptors should make but probably won't. 5 Moves the Toronto Raptors should make but probably won't. dark