Only hours after re-signing the man in charge, Masai Ujiri, the Toronto Raptors went out and got their primary free agent target for the offseason.
Free agent C Khem Birch is returning to the Toronto Raptors on a three-year, $20M contract, his agent Austin Brown of @caa_basketball tells ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 5, 2021
At the risk of being hyperbolic, this is an incredible deal. Birch’s numbers were quiet, but his impact on the court was massive for the Raptors. He was an incredible defender, and he was a surprisingly solid passer and finisher, particularly when he went to the floater. He gave Toronto exactly what they needed at the center spot, and Toronto’s numbers with their full lineup available, after Birch arrived, were comparable to their dominance of seasons past.
Birch spoke openly about how much freedom he enjoyed with Toronto after being put in a box with Orlando. He expanded his game somewhat with Toronto, and the hope has to be that the trend continues during Birch’s contract. He already offers most of what teams want from the center spot, and his defensive game fits particularly well with Toronto’s demanding schemes. He could improve his standstill jumper from the corners and becomes a slightly better finisher when directly under the rim, but his game as it currently stands is already far better than his contract would indicate. He’ll give Toronto surplus value, and as long as their stars in Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Pascal Siakam are available, the team should return to the playoff picture with Birch at the pivot spot.
Toronto’s offseason is rapidly shaping up.