Which players will Ujiri keep on Raptors roster?

New Raptors GM Masai Ujiri plans to stay the course with his current roster.
June 3, 2013, 12:00 PM

New Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has his work cut out for him.

Rebuilding the Raptors roster certainly won’t be an easy process and there are many tough decisions to be made.

The Raptors currently do not have any 2013 draft picks (or any salary cap space) so the team could look to blow up a roster that the former regime left behind.

Toronto hasn’t made a playoff appearance in five years and hasn’t won a series since the days of Vince Carter, Antonio Davis and Alvin Williams in 2000-01.

The Raptors are sort of stuck in no-man’s land with a group that could contend for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference but not much more than that.

If the Raptors truly want to become competitive, they may need to take a step back before they move forward and that could consist of making several changes to the roster.

Here, we take a look at the pieces Ujiri has heading into 2013-14 and who could be moved in order to finally build the contending team the Raptors fan base is desperately seeking.

ON THE ROSTER

Rudy Gay
Age: 26
Position: Small forward
2013 salary: $17.8 million
The skinny: Bryan Colangelo brought in Gay to be a piece the Raptors could build around but that still remains to be seen. Gay is being paid like a franchise player — his salary is set to jump even higher ($19.3 million) in 2014 – and Ujiri has to decide whether Gay can be a building block for this group. Gay has all the upside in the world but his lacklustre shooting percentage remains a question mark and he could be a piece that could command value on the trade market. This is a tough one for Ujiri.

Andrea Bargnani
Age: 27
Position: Power forward
2013 salary: $11 million
The skinny: The Raptors are reportedly already shopping Bargnani and hope to trade him before July 1. Bargnani hasn’t been able to maximize his potential in Toronto and has become a disappointment for the coaching staff and the fans. Bargnani is best suited as a bench player where he wouldn’t have to focus on his defence and rebounding woes. That could come on a contending team.

DeMar DeRozan
Age: 23
Position: Shooting guard
2013 salary: $9.5 million
The skinny: DeRozan has been progressing every season but his ceiling remains a concern for the Raptors. His athletic ability is certainly an asset but he hasn’t developed much of a perimeter game. The DeRozan-Gay combination is sort of redundant and the Raptors may be better off moving forward with only one of the athletic wingmen. DeRozan was signed to a questionable four-year, $38-million extension last summer.

Amir Johnson
Age: 26
Position: Power forward
2013 salary: $6.5 million
The skinny: Acquiring Johnson turned out to be one of Colangelo’s best moves and he has proven to be a valuable rotation player for the Raptors. Johnson is a player the Raptors should look to keep around as his attitude and work ethic have been impressive, especially on a team that has not seen a lot of victories the last three seasons. His tendency to rack up fouls remains an issue but the Raps shouldn’t be looking to get rid one of their best rebounders any time soon.

Kyle Lowry
Age: 27
Position: Point guard
2013 salary: $6.2 million (team option)
The skinny: The Raptors gave up their first rounder in the upcoming draft to get Lowry last summer but he failed to make much of an impact in his first season. Lowry is loaded with talent but has proven to be a handful for a couple of coaching staffs (Toronto and Houston). It took a while for him to adapt to his new role in Toronto. With point guard being such a critical position in today’s NBA, Ujiri and co. need to determine if he is the man moving forward. If not, it may be better to just cut their losses at this point.

Jonas Valanciunas
Age: 21
Position: Centre
2013 salary: $3.5 million
The skinny: There is no decision to be made here. Drafting Valanciunas may turn out to be the best move of the Colangelo era and the tall Lithuanian is a huge building block for the Raptors’ future. The big centre showed drastic improvement in his rookie season and will certainly improve with more seasoning. Going forward, Valanciunas is a key piece but a guy who needs to take the next step if the Raps want to return to the playoffs.

Landry Fields
Age: 24
Position: Small forward
2013 salary: $5.2 million
The skinny: The Raptors drastically overpaid Fields in an attempt to get Steve Nash to come to Toronto. It certainly didn’t work out for the Raptors as he struggled with a wrist injury which affected his shooting all season long. He made little impact on the court in his first season in T.O. Fields is still young but he doesn’t offer much other than a rotation bench player and could be used as a throw-in to a deal to match salaries.

Linas Kleiza
Age: 28
Position: Small forward
2013 salary: $4.6 million
The skinny: Kleiza has been a popular amnesty cause as the veteran forward is entering the final year of his contract. The key is to determine if they can get any value from his expiring contract or not. The Raptors would be much better off with a younger, developing player to fill Kleiza’s role as they look to restock their talent base. The Lithuanian played just 20 games last season as he was hampered by injuries. If they keep him, he’ll be a candidate for a trade deadline acquisition for a playoff team.

Terrence Ross
Age: 22
Position: Shooting guard
2013 salary: $2.7 million
The skinny: Ross is certainly worth keeping around at the shooting guard position. He is relatively cheap (heading into his second year) and offers the type of upside the Raptors should be looking for right now. Ross still needs to mature on and off the court as he tailed off in the second half of last season. If he comes in with the right attitude, the Raps need to give Ross more time on the court instead of journeymen like Alan Anderson or John Lucas.

Aaron Gray
Age: 28
Position: Centre
2013 salary: $2.6 million
The skinny: Gray is entering the final year of his contract and doesn’t provide anything more than depth at this point. The Raptors wouldn’t get any value for Gray on the trade market so keeping the centre for one more season as a veteran presence for Valanciunas makes a ton of sense for Toronto.

John Lucas
Age: 30
Position: Point guard
2013 salary: $1.6 million
The skinny: The Raptors should look to upgrade their No. 3 point guard position and Lucas could end up being replaced on the roster. He looked decent at times last season but is a limited player at best.

Quincy Acy
Age: 22
Position: Power forward
2013 salary: $788,872
The skinny: We don’t see much of a role for Acy moving forward. He will likely have to battle for a roster spot to make the team next year and could end up back in the D-League again in 2013-14. He is athletic but needs to refine his game to succeed at the pro level.

FREE AGENTS

Sebastian Telfair
Age: 27
Position: Point guard
2012 salary: $788,872
The skinny: The Raptors brought in Telfair to fill in at point guard after Jose Calderon was shipped to Detroit last year. If Ujiri wants a cheap option at point guard, he could look to bring back the veteran but a more consistent and reliable option could make more sense. He has never lived up to his hype coming out of high school and remains a fringe roster player right now.

Mickael Pietrus
Age: 31
Position: Shooting guard
2012 salary: $1 million
The skinny: Pietrus is entering the decline stage of his career and doesn’t really fill any role going forward. Expect Pietrus to end up in Europe or elsewhere and we can’t imagine him back in Toronto.

Alan Anderson
Age: 30
Position: Shooting guard
2012 salary: $885,120
The skinny: Anderson was a favourite of coach Dwane Casey last year but many believed the Raps coach should have given more playing time to Ross instead. Ujiri may want to allow Ross to develop and that could consist of allowing Anderson to walk as a free agent. He had a breakout season last year and may be looking for more money on the open market than what Toronto could afford.

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