One other argument in favour of a stash strategy that runs counter to these earlier points is that this draft also seems primed for the opportunity to purchase an additional second-round pick, or possibly turn a late first into a pair of seconds. Adding a third pick would make stashing one of the selections even likelier. Similarly, the Raptors’ strength in acquiring undrafted talent could nudge their decision at No. 59 slightly toward an international candidate, allowing them to effectively land two players there with an advanced undrafted deal.
Really, though, the idea of drafting someone playing internationally comes down to two factors: Is there talent worthy of a pick, and is it a better developmental situation for that player?
The second part holds a great deal of uncertainty. We still don’t know what the 2020-21 G League season might look like, and Raptors 905 experience has been a major part of the Raptors’ development incubator. They’ll already be operating without a Summer League and their usual offseason program for any draft pick, and a limited G League could further compromise the development approach. Some clarity on the G League season is expected within a week or two of the NBA details being confirmed, and you can expect the Raptors to be among those advocating for something close to the normal setup, even if it requires a low-revenue G League bubble of sorts; it is simply too valuable a developmental tool to some organizations, and the NBA is further invested with the introduction of their Ignite prospect path team.
Still, that’s a question mark, as is the abbreviated offseason. It becomes a potential question of in-game repetition against skill work, of short-term outlook against long-term and about the multiple paths to higher-percentile development outcomes.
Is the G League uncertainty and the international head start enough to tilt the scales toward an overseas player who will spend a full season at a high level of competition?
“That’s a really, really good question. You know, when we first started out sort of making lists and figuring out who we were zeroing in on, we talked about that, especially when you start talking about second-round picks,” Raptors director of global scouting and international affairs Patrick Engelbrecht said last week. “Definitely somebody has an advantage developing if they’re currently in a season right now versus the guy that’s waiting for a draft that’s been pushed a couple of months back that’s literally looking at his phone to figure out when the start of the next season is gonna start in the NBA. So definitely, all those things are being taken into consideration. But at the end of the day, you know, Masai, Bobby (Webster), we like to really stay focused on the talent and we don’t try to get sidetracked by a guy’s great situation versus his talent. Like, if we have to go through a rough patch, if a guy has to sit on the sideline for four months because he doesn’t know where the G League is and he’s just gonna practice in the NBA, if a guy’s gonna be playing for a EuroLeague team, we take all those things into consideration based on his scenario and how he fits with us. All things being equal, we’re gonna go with the talent.”
In other words, talent will outweigh the situation, and the Raptors have faith in their development program to make the most out of novel times.
Host William Lou is joined by Alex Wong to break down 2020 NBA offseason plans for the Toronto Raptors.
- Secure a venue for the 2020-21 season
- Extend Bobby Webster and Masai Ujiri’s contracts
- Sign Fred VanVleet to multi-year deal
- Re-sign Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol to one-year offers
- Fill out the rotation
- Nail the 2020 NBA Draft
Click through to listen to the show
First reported by Adam Vingan at The Athletic, the home arena in question is the Bridgestone Arena, which is where the Nashville Predators play. The site also regularly hosts SEC’s end-of-season tournament, so it’s not totally unfamiliar with hoops.
If you’ve been living off the grid for the last month or so, you might need some catching up here. Several sources have reported that the Raptors may have to play their home games south of the border in 2020-21 (at least to start the season), especially now that a December 22 start date is confirmed. This obviously has to do with the Canada-U.S. border’s extended closure due to COVID-19 and that rapid testing for non-essential purposes is still a few months away.
In late October, some wagons were circled around Louisville, but Raptors players uniformly shot down the idea because of the city’s relation to the Breonna Taylor tragedy. We’ve also heard Kansas City, M.O. and Tampa, Florida as potential sites — though Vangan’s source with the team says they would prefer something closer to their Atlantic Division rivals. Buffalo, NY and Newark, NJ — both basketball-ready cities within an hour’s flight of those teams — are also floating out there as possibilities.
Bryan Hayes, Jeff O’Neill and Jonas Siegel discuss news NBPA has tentatively approved the league’s 72-game schedule for next season starting December 22nd.
Contract extensions for the front office
In times of looming uncertainty, Raptors fans can find comfort in the fact that the franchise’s decisions are made by the triumvirate of Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and Nick Nurse.
Shortly after Toronto’s postseason exit, Nurse was secured as a member of the franchise’s future as he inked a contract extension that appropriately made him one of the league’s highest-paid head coaches. Now, the franchise will look to do the same with Ujiri and Webster, who are both entering the final year of their contract.
Back when Nurse signed his contract extension, Kevin O’Connor said on The Ringer’s NBA Show podcast that extensions for both Webster and Ujiri would be soon. Two months later, there has been no indication that either executive has come closer to agreeing to deals to keep them with the franchise longer, although there is no indication that they would be looking to move elsewhere, either.
The fact of the matter is that these two are some of the best at their jobs and while there would surely be widespread interest in either around the league, the fact that neither of them has yet to agree to an extension could very well be of direct correlation to the team’s need to quickly figure out its approach for the draft, free agency, and the upcoming season.
Ultimately, when those concerns are addressed, there will still be plenty of time for an extension to be signed. And an extension for either could come at any point in the process.
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