Even though its been only two weeks since our painful Game 7 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, this week we’re taking a look at what will be the biggest offseason priorities for the Toronto Raptors. As much as losing still stings, there are a lot of positives to build off of for the next season, and hopefully Raptors’ GM, Masai Ujiri is able to help his team continue move forward for the 2014-15 NBA season.
1. Resign Kyle Lowry
It cannot be stressed enough how important Lowry has been to the success of his team this year. Without question, he was the heart and soul of his team, leading them to their first Playoff series since 2008. In what was Kyle’s best season of his career, he finally was able to overcome the stigma that has surrounded him as being a difficult player. There is no doubt that other teams will come knocking with offers to claim this amazing point guard as their own, but from our perspective, there is no possible way that management will let him leave the team. He is that integral to the Raptors, and losing him at this stage could be the most devastating thing to happen to the franchise.
2. Free Agent Role Players
As a team, our biggest weakness, which was exposed with during our series against the Nets, was our inability to guard Joe Johnson-- or even slow down his incredible shots. Although Ross showed his potential by playing decent defense (at times), his inconsistency on the offensive side of the ball, kept him off the court during large stretches of the game. Outside of Ross, Johnson completely ran over Derozan and Salmons. Therefore, probably one of the biggest targets for the Raptors in free agency will be a quality defender at the 3 spot. Outside the big two, Lebron and Melo, the best name out there is Luol Deng, a solid defender, who could definitely fill that defensive roll our team so desperately needs. Unfortunately, his price tag may be a little too high for the Raptors. The second two best defensive options could be Trevor Ariza and Al-Farouq Aminu, both who are rumoured to be leaving their current teams.
3. Bringing Back the Bench
Two of the other Raptors who are without a contract now are Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez, both of whom were integral to the Raptors success this year. The ability to have such talented second choice options at the PG and PF position proved incredibly helpful, especially during the playoffs. Both are restricted free agents which gives us some leverage. However, depending on the price tag of bringing back Kyle Lowry, these contracts could prove to be very tight for the team. Both should probably command somewhere in the 3-5 million per year range, which could be worked in depending on what other cap moves are made in the offseason. Ujiri will most likely be looking to offload at least two large contracts, the most likely of which will be either Salmons, Hayes, Fields or Novak. Losing any number of these players would help clear up cap space and give us room to resign these other two vital assets.
The 2014 NBA Draft is around the corner, and our fingers are crossed. Will the Toronto Raptors’ take this year’s draft as their opportunity to solidify their team? Honestly, we’re just going to have our breath and wait for June 26th. After an exciting 2013-14 season, we can't wait to see this young team get back on the court this fall! Will you be tuning in?