Who should the Raptors sign this summer, if anybody? Team RR took went on a retreat at our home-office in Athabasca, Alberta, and came up with a plan. Seven of them.
Tom Liston: Given the young talent on the squad, I think the Raptors should look for one of two key ingredients in free agency: complimentary youth that can grow with the team or a true veteran leader to help mold this team. Since other RR members are likely to pick Marc Gasols, Nenes, or perhaps even Greg Odens of the free agent class, I’ll offer out my pick on the other side: Shane Battier. Does he fill an immediate need? Not really. However, my reason is simple: he exhibits every quality I want to see this club embrace: class, effort, excellence, defense, leadership and team play. Battier is all about wins, not glory. He also probably comes at a reasonable price and perhaps a two-year deal. Perfect, if you’re in the camp where the Raptors try to peak a few years out. Why? Battier becomes the ultimate locker room leader and eventually would move into a management role of the team. And it bringing more advanced analytics to the team wouldn’t hurt either.
Blake Murphy: Tough to formulate free agency comments when the landscape for this summer is so bleak and vague. Still, I must participate in the exercise. Let me first qualify my free-agent selection by saying that with only one draft pick, one who will not be in the league this year, the Raptors should be a team scouring the NBDL-wire or undrafted rookie lists to try and land an under-the-radar player to fill out the roster (tough without a Summer League, but definitely doable through training camp). In terms of NBA talent, the most glaring need is a defensive center to supplement the big-rotation of Bargnani/Davis/Amir(/Alabi).
I don’t think it’s prudent to offer a multi-year deal to nearly anyone unless you can get a top-tier guy for cheap (unlikely, with the free agent crop being led by Nene, Chandler, and Oden, and thinning out after that), so my focus would be on a temporary stop-gap, similar to what Reggie Evans was intended to be, but hopefully with a bit more versatility and defense, maybe at the cost of rebounding. A Chuck Hayes would be decent on a 2 or 3-year deal, but more likely options appear to be Kwame Brown or Joel Przybilla, guys who may be forced to accept shorter deals under a stricter CBA. My apologies….”a few words” turned into “a rambling paragraph,” and really I just spun my wheels…the same thing all NBA teams will be doing until there is some more certainty about 2011-12.
Sam Holako: While Tyson Chandler is most peoples’ pick, he will be heavily sought after by better teams who are contenders right now. As far as more reasonable targets go, I’m torn between two players: Greg Oden and Andrei Kirilenko. Oden is interesting because you might be able to buy him with a 3yr/$30mil deal (that has incentives and games played milestones baked in); some teams won’t want to risk that on an oft-injured big man, but his value is undeniable if he can stay healthy.
Ultimately, my choice would be to target Kirilenko, who would provide veteran leadership in the locker room, solid defense as the starting small forward, and the ability to make offensive plays when his number is called. I realize the need at center out-weighs the need at small forward, but I’m not sold on Johnson/Weems there. Jonas Valanciunas is the long term (for now) answer at center, and without any available point guards that could usurp Calderon, my choice is to fill the small forward spot that has been seemingly vacant forever.
phdsteve: If the Raptors are serious about rebuilding then they shouldn’t sign anyone. The truth is it’s a weak free-agent crop and the Raptors always have to overpay. Kirilenko? Battier? Are any of these veterans actually going to help this club? The worst thing they can do right now is lock themselves into a 5-year deal, even at the mid-level, on a guy who won’t be a core piece when the team is ready to compete 3-5 years down the road. Portland just qualified Oden at $8.8 million, and even if he ends up being a stud, that’s too much for a team that just drafted its center of the future. Same goes for Chandler, Nene, and all other bigs out there.
They need to just DO NOTHING. Its rebuilding time and that means being patient, letting the young guns get their minutes, and spending as little cap as possible. Coming out of the lockout, cap space will be far more valuable than any minor piece they’ll be able to sign. Not to mention, fans shouldn’t want this team to win 30 games next season: either win 40+ or stink (and since the’ve re-upped Sonny Weems, drafted a guy who’ll be in Europe, decided that Bayless and Calderon can man the point, and that Bargnani is the starting 4-, oh ya, and since Casey is keeping half of Triano’s staff) – looks like fans who are cheering for 20 wins are about to get their wish.
Matt52 (forums): What should have been an easy few lines has become very difficult. It is difficult to make suggestions for free agency given the uncertainty of the new CBA and what the Raptors roster will look like. The wildcard in all of this is Andrea Bargnani. If he is kept, a center will be needed in the short-term to pair him up with. Nene, Gasol, Jordan, and Chandler are all going to be extremely expensive and looking for 4-year deals – minimum – and that assumes they would come even here. The other options leave me feeling, um, uneasy shall we say. There selections from the Gimp Bin (Oden, Ming, Pryzbilla, and Foster) and the Stiff Bin (Brown, Gray, Haddad). The only free agent options that seems realistic to me is Kwame Brown and Samuel Dalembert – neither of which inspire confidence near or long term.
With center’s out of the way, barring any potential trades, the Raptors are set at point guard (Bayless, Calderon, and Barbosa) and power forward (Bargnani *wink*wink*, Amir, and Davis) so that leaves wings. The Raptors, in my opinion, should be looking at free agency as a means to acquire rotational players that address needs for when they become competitive again in a couple of seasons. With next year’s draft having legitimate all-star talent (or possibly better) at the wing position, I see no reason to waste money and future flexibility to eek out a few more wins. Three players to consider on the wings: Reggie Williams, Daequan Cook, and Wilson Chandler. Of the three, Chandler will certainly cost the most. I would really like to put JR Smith in there but unfortunately I don’t think he is worth the gamble with a young team, despite the immense talent he possesses.
Apollo (forums): If you gauged what the legions of Raptors fans wanted from this year’s free agent class prior to the draft you would have gotten something like “a high profile center and a starting wing”. Now, after the draft? I think the majority are intrigued and excited by Jonas Valanciunas’ potential. They’re committed to waiting to see what he has to offer. For that reason my list would include only lower profile center options such as Joel Przybilla and Nazr Mohammed. The small forward slot is where the money should be spent. Here I would suggest the likes of Wilson Chandler and Tayshaun Prince as solid veteran options. If they’re interested in higher risk options, then Michael Redd should receive consideration as his leadership, perimeter shooting, and overall clutch play would be very rewarding should he recapture his past form. Lower profile wings such as Earl Clark, C.J. Miles, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Chris Douglas-Roberts should also garner some consideration.
Me: It’s a free-agent crop that’s mostly filled with third or fourth-tier players, not that I mind investing in them except that none of them have the chance to be impact players. So you can scratch off going with the investment route expecting a great ROI down the road. The only guy I would’ve taken a chance on is Greg Oden on the cheap, but since his qualifying offer was extended I’ve lost interest. There’s no way I’m willing to risk valuable cap-space on a long-shot, especially since whatever the team does, it’s going to be amongst the worst in the league next season. I can buy the argument that we need a veteran, so Shane Battier peaked my interest until I realized he’d rather play for a contender at this stage in his career. Landing DeAndre Jordan or Marc Gasol was wishful thinking to begin with, and Jonas Valanciunas’ draft-and-stash reduces the sense in going after him.
I’m going to say let’s aim for next summer. Give Solomon Alabi major minutes at the center role, get a high pick next year, continue the evolution of DeRozan, Davis and hopefully but not likely, Bargnani, and then be a player in the summer of 2012. That’s when the likes of Deron Williams, Dwight Howard and Chris Paul become available. Yes, the chances of signing any of them is low, but just maybe the Raptors can show something this season that makes Toronto an attractive proposition. Once that’s done, we’ll see whether Bryan Colangelo and that vaunted respect and adoration he has around the league can deliver a proper free-agent. If we can’t sign one of the big names, no problem, wait till 2013. Hey, rebuildin’ ain’t easy. If you had to twist my arm and say pick one guy, I’d go with Daequan Cook, the Raptors need to space the floor and are horrid at three-point shooting. In a year when Barbosa is gone, Cook could step in nicely.
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