The Toronto Raptors made their biggest splash of the off-season — arguably the biggest in the team’s history — when they traded franchise cornerstone DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for former Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard, 27, bolsters a Raptors roster that will see most every other player from their record 59-win season in 2017-18, and raises the expectations for the upcoming 2018-19 season considerably.
But does that mean the team is done? No, it doesn’t. At his press conference to announce the Leonard deal, Raptors president Masai Ujiri made it clear he and his staff remain open to any incoming offers, and despite being over the salary cap have a mid-level exception available to sign one more free agent.
So what’s next for the Raptors? Let’s take a look.
The Raptors’ NBA roster is one of the most intriguing and versatile collections in recent memory, poised to create matchup problems, play disruptive defence and and do damage from beyond the arc as well. But there are still holes to fill.
Here’s how the rotation currently stands, with projected starters in italics:
G: Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Danny Green, Delon Wright, Lorenzo Brown, Malachi Richardson.
F: Kawhi Leonard, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, C.J. Miles, Norman Powell.
C: Jonas Valanciunas, Serge Ibaka.
The Raptors inked forward Chris Boucher to a non-guaranteed deal that will see him compete for a roster spot in training camp with a potential stint with the Raptors905 next season.
The 25-year-old Boucher, who grew up in Montreal, went undrafted out of Oregon in 2017 and spent last season with the Golden State Warriors. An athletic big man, Boucher opened eyes at the Summer League and found success when utilized at centre, averaging over three blocks per game. At six-foot-11 and 200 pounds, he may be too thin to play the position at the NBA level but will get an opportunity to prove otherwise this fall.
The team also signed guard Jordan Loyd to a two-way contract earlier this summer. Loyd played in Turkey last season and opened eyes appearing for the Raptors at Summer League in Las Vegas last month:
While both Loyd and Boucher will get a chance to make it to the big club with impressive training camp showings, the Raptors still have one roster spot left to be filled. Expect the team to fill the vacancy by targeting a back-up centre (or third string, depending on how first-year head coach Nick Nurse utilizes Ibaka) via free-agency.
The team has a mid-level exception of $5.3 million remaining at their disposal, and there are a handful of candidates available in that price range.
A report over the weekend linked the Raptors to former Pistons, Bucks and Celtics centre Greg Monroe, while other serviceable bigs like Brandon Wright and David West remain on the market.
Expect Anunoby to see significantly more minutes at the four this season, and I’d be genuinely surprised if Ibaka didn’t occupy his biggest share of minutes at centre. But the Raptors biggest (lone?) area of need heading toward next season is down low.
Key Dates: Training camp, pre-season and signing deadlines
Sept. 22-25: Training camp opens
Pre-season: The Raptors will play a pair of exhibition games outside of Toronto in the sixth annual NBA Canada Series. On Sept. 29, the Raptors will face the Portland Trail Blazers in Vancouver, and on Oct. 10 will meet the Brooklyn Nets in Montreal.
Oct. 31: This is the last day the Raptors will have to pick up 2019-20 options for Anunoby, Siakam and Richardson, the former Syracuse standout who was acquired from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Bruno Caboclo at the trade deadline in February and had a good showing at Summer League.
The Raptors will also have until the first day of the regular season to sign fourth-year guard Delon Wright to an extension. If the two sides don’t reach an extension agreement, Wright will become a restricted free agent next summer.