The Raptors team is a family and we win together and lose together. We ALL gave all our heart in this Playoffs but sometimes things don’t go your way. Proud of this team and of representing Toronto and Canada #wethenorth pic.twitter.com/2hZrNrULzZ
— Serge Ibaka (@sergeibaka) September 13, 2020
Late November (tentative) — Free Agency
Historically, free agency has started a week and change after the draft. That might be even tighter this time around. The league could even scrap the free agent moratorium — the time where all the deals get reported and can’t be official yet — since that’s normally time the league uses to finalize the cap numbers, and the offseason calendar is already being shifted to account for that. In any case, expect free agency to flow pretty quickly from the draft.
The following items will need to be taken care of in roughly this order whenever the league firms the calendar up.
Options: Stanley Johnson holds a player option he will almost certainly exercise.
Qualifying Offers: The Raptors have four restricted free agents, and they’ll need to issue them qualifying offers to secure the right to match any offer sheet signed. Chris Boucher, Malcolm Miller, Oshae Brissett and Nando De Colo are all restricted free agents. (Yes, the Raptors still hold RFA rights on De Colo and have to issue a qualifying offer every year.)
Guarantee Dates: Matt Thomas, Terence Davis II and Dewan Hernandez all have non- or partially-guaranteed contracts for next season that will lock in early in the offseason. All three contracts are at the minimum if locked in.
Moratorium Period: If there’s a moratorium, that’s a window in which the Raptors can sign other teams’ RFAs to offer sheets, sign their draft picks and sign any minimum contracts.
Free Agency: Once any moratorium ends, the Raptors will be free to sign free agents. Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are all unrestricted free agents.
Trades: Once the free agency window opens, so does trading. (Trading can also take place before or at the draft, though how the league might handle salaries for salary matching on that night is a bit fuzzy at present.)
Extensions: OG Anunoby is eligible for a rookie-scale extension this offseason that would kick in for 2021-22 (Eric and I will be talking about this a lot in the coming weeks). Norman Powell will also be eligible for a veteran extension.
It’s not a very sexy free agent class. Still, the Raptors will have the mid-level exception to use and have done well finding value in distressed assets in the past. We’ll be looking at possible targets in the coming weeks.
OG Anunoby. Forget about the absolutely iconic game-winning 3 in Game 3 against the Celtics for a second. Anunoby was a revelation throughout the entire playoffs. He played defence at an absolutely elite level this season, but what should make Raptors fans excited moving forward are the flashes Anunoby showed on the offensive end. It’s not a stretch to say Anunoby is just as important as Siakam when it comes to the future of this franchise. Expect the 23-year-old forward to take on a bigger role on offence, and don’t be surprised when Anunoby ends up on the All-Defensive team next year.
OG Anunoby, forward
11 games, 10.5 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game, 60 true shooting %, plus-1.3 net rating
If there was something from the playoffs that caused the most excitement for the future, it was Anunoby’s play. Individual defence? Check. Excelling in the small offensive role given to him (14.2 percent usage, 41 percent 3-point percentage)? Check. Able to log minutes in some of the toughest assignments both series had to offer? Check. Even beyond that, Anunoby excelled, hauling in several adult-sized offensive rebounds, showing his defensive versatility on undersized centres and waterbug point guards, and even displaying he has the raw skills to be asked to do more on offence. He also had a kind-of-notable, once-in-a-career-if-you’re-lucky moment.
The Raptors exceeded expectations in the regular season and nearly returned the Eastern Conference finals in their title defence bid without Kawhi Leonard. TSN Raptors reporter Josh Lewenberg shared his thoughts on a unique season for the Raps, and how he thinks Siakam will handle the backlash he has received for his poor performance in the bubble.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst recaps a season of building for the defending champion Toronto Raptors.
Busy off-season awaits
And a team that will look nothing like this next season — whenever next season is.
“Some of these guys, you don’t know if you’ll see them, you don’t know if you’ll play with them, so yeah, that’s tough, that’s tough,” Fred VanVleet said.
VanVleet, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol are all free agents. Lowry has one year left on his contract, as does Nurse and his staff.
Raptors president Masai Ujiri may choose to completely rebuild. It would be a bittersweet ending to a two-year run that captivated fans across the country. The Raptors boast the best record for regular-season wins over the past seven years, and lead the conference in consecutive playoff appearances.
In his post-game interview, an emotional Nurse was sad to see the season end, and lamented what losses might be coming. The coach believed until the final buzzer sounded Friday that he’d have at least another series before saying goodbye.
“I’m thinking about it right now, I already miss this team. You know what I mean?,” said Nurse, who earned NBA coach of the year honours.
“It was a hell of a two-year run with the core group of these guys,” Nurse said. “I wasn’t thinking about it being over at all. I was really planning on winning this series and getting ready for Miami (in the conference finals) tonight when I got back to the hotel. Now just thinking back again, a hell of a run for this team and some amazing moments and I think everyone should be really proud of them.”
The only Raptors to play to or above expectations in the playoffs: Kyle Lowry, OG Anunoby and Serge Ibaka … Just below expectations: Fred VanVleet and Norm Powell. Way below expectations: Siakam and Marc Gasol … This is a complicated off-season for the Raptors and for just about everybody in the NBA and the NHL. NBA free agency starts on Oct. 18. NHL free agency begins on Oct. 9. Not only are teams juggling stagnant salary caps, but for Canadian teams, COVID-19 becomes an issue. And with the next seasons not expected to begin until late December and school having started already, try getting a family to move, change schools, change addresses in the middle of a global pandemic … Unless he’s willing to take a haircut on his salary, can’t see the Raptors bringing Gasol back. He just doesn’t offer enough anymore … The complications: What to do with Ibaka and VanVleet? Ibaka would be worth re-signing but not for beyond one year, which he might reject. VanVleet is going to get big money whether he leaves Toronto or not. His preference would be to stay, but you may get this kind of lottery-ticket opportunity only once in a career. And in the midst of all this, the Raptors need to be cognizant about positioning themselves in a manner to be able to go after Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is available a year from now, assuming he doesn’t re-sign with Milwaukee in the meantime … And then there’s Masai Ujiri’s situation, which nobody talks much about. Ujiri’s contract runs out at the end of next season, as does the original deal with coach Nurse. In the free-agent market of the future, both would be highly coveted … What the Raptors do need: Some size and athleticism. And maybe a semi-dependable three-point shooter.
Kerry Johns Garcia Perez, Cardenas, Cuba
I do not have a shirt, or sweater, or anything about Toronto, I just know and I feel that I carry the Toronto Raptors in my heart. I felt identified with that team and in this year where nobody trusted us because Kawhi left. We knew how to show that Toronto is more than Kawhi. Toronto Raptors is passion, love, courage, bravery, is to feel united as a hobby and as a team ….. together we will achieve great things.
This is my humble opinion about the Toronto Raptors … I want you to know that from Cuba there is someone who supports you in the bad and good moments … Cheer up Toronto!
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