Check Part I before you go on.
Let’s go on.
4. Give me your MILDEST offseason prediction.
GARY IS GONZO.
Gary, probably, believes his contractual simulacrum to be in the realm of Jordan Poole ($28.7 Mil), Tyler Herro ($27 Mil), and Anfernee Simons ($24 mil). Masai, probably, thinks him closer to the Bogdan Bogdanovic ($18.7 Mil), Tim Hardaway Jr. ($17.9 Mil), and Kevin Huerter ($15.7 Mil) range even with a jump in the cap.
I have trouble believing Gary’s hubris and Masai’s shrewdness will reconcile.
Gary Trent isn’t back next season, just hasn’t felt like much of a priority from whenever the higher-ups have spoken about the team, and I’m unsure they’re going to want to pay all three of Trent, VanVleet, and Poeltl. I also don’t think Trent has much interest in continuing to come off the bench.
Summer Simmons Splendour.
We get a “Ben Simmons hitting 4 threes in a row in an empty gym” video and that becomes a big thing for 4 to 12 days.
Two Takes their Bows.
Mildest? Umm, Thad Young is no longer a Raptor?
That seems almost too mild. I’ll go with Gary Trent jr. is no longer a Raptor. Mild, but at least meaningful.
Not too many changes. Now that Ime Udoka is gone Toronto hires from within. My main guess would be Adrian Griffin.
Jakob Poeltl will be re-signed, Gary Trent Jr., and Fred VanVleeet will opt into their player options.
Re-sign VanVleet and Poeltl. Gary Trent Jr. opts into his player option as his season didn’t go as well as he wanted it to. We draft a player with our first-round pick and run it back with the same team.
5. Give me your WILDEST offseason prediction.
A roster shake-up wouldn’t be all that surprising with so many wallets to fill.
Remember, Masai tried for Malcolm Brogdon last year and Kristaps Porzingis two years ago. He already brought in Jak who is a “championship piece” and Masai seems committed to, at least, Pascal and O.G., if not also Freddy.
That, in addition to his belief in this league’s “parity”, could mean he’s ready to bust-a-move.
Who? Hard to say. Has to be a guard. Preferably, one who can penetrate on his own accord. (Also, FYI, I am NOT trading Scottie, Precious, O.G., or Pascal unless the offer is levels of absurdity).
Perhaps, sign and trade Freddy for an older, less talented, but still productive scoring guard, possibly on a lesser-term contract. Try to regain a lost pick while avoiding long-term money: guys like CJ McCollum (UFA 24-25) or Mike Conley (Partially Guaranteed 23-24).
Or, Freddy just straight up for salary and a young buck like we did with Kyle Lowry: guys like Terrance Mann, Jalen Suggs, Dyson Daniels., etc.
One of Siakam or O.G. gets moved to Portland.
Nick Nurse to the Milwaukee Bucks or Dallas Mavericks.
Toronto tries to fix its shooting issues by signing shooters at the 13th-15th spot in the rotation, again. And it doesn’t work, again. [Editor’s Note: Real wild, Lou…]
Masai talked in his presser about shooting, but he recommitted to the idea that it can be developed. We know Toronto can’t fix shooting at the bottom end of the roster — it has to come from the top. I am not sure the team finds a way out of that trap, however.
Freddy stayeth, Freddy goeth.
My wildest take is Fred VanVleet will be gone from the team. It’s not the wildest take and I know I said that he will opt into his player option but he’s probably the first player to get traded if anything happens this offseason.
VanVleet made it very clear that he wasn’t very happy with the Raptors during the regular season and I think moving on from him makes the most sense.
A blockbuster trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, whether we acquire Damian Lillard or we ship out Pascal Siakam. Dame expressed his concerns about playing with a young Blazers team and one of the two could happen:
- Dame requests a trade and the Raptors acquire him for VanVleet (S&T), Trent Jr (S&T), 3-4 first-round picks and pick swaps.
- Blazers front office responds to Dame’s frustration to win and acquire Siakam for Shaedon Sharpe, Keon Johnson, their lottery pick for this season, 2-3 more first-round picks, and salary fillers.
6. BONUS Q: Playoffs are often precursors to minor or major changes in the NBA. Anything you’ve seen (style, rosters, rules, rotations, etc.) that you could see affecting the future of the NBA?
SMALL BALL LIVES ON.
We figured the 6’9″ vision dead. Era of the big boys stepping over its corpse.
Now, I’m not so sure.
Sure, there’s Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokić. They’re all-time greats. They don’t count.
Everyone else without a Hall of Famer centre either isn’t so concerned about the position or eliminated.
Much of that has to do with spacing. If the centre can’t create and/or shoot, they’re dead weight. Particularly, if they can’t switch on defence either. [Editor’s Note: Lou contradicts me in a hot second below.]
Look at the majority of the First Round teams. Miami, small. Memphis, small. LA, LA, Golden State, Sacramento, Brooklyn, Bostonish, small.
Of the big boy teams Cleveland, Denver, Milwaukee, Minnesota, New York, Atlanta, and Philly there have been very mixed results. Denver, NYK, and Philly dominated. Milwaukee and Cleveland imploded. Minnesota never stood a chance. Atlanta sputtered.
Only Phoenix, persisted with a “traditional” team in DeAndre Ayton at centre. They have three superstars. That absolves all sins.
It’s a complex story that needs more analysis. It’s also something for Masai to further contemplate as he figures out the next iteration of this roster.
Bangers and Pass.
Playmaking bigs are going to bring about a revolution similar to that of how 3-point shooting exploded in the late 2000’s. Maybe not as large of a scale, but looking at players like Sabonis, Giannis, Jokic, Towns, Adebayo, Embiid, even Mobley and Poeltl to a degree, teams are starting to understand how important it is to have a facilitator who can operate in the interior and open up offences.
Oklahoma City’s rookie big Jaylin Williams [Editor’s Note: Brendan would not miss an opportunity to drop Jaylin’s name] dropped 8 assists in their close play-in loss to the Timberwolves. It’s also no surprise when you consider that three of those guys are perennial MVP candidates, and those other names all impact winning in under-appreciated ways. By the way, the Raptors don’t win that ring in 2019 without Marc Gasol, who was a fantastic playmaker in his own right.
Feels like the injuries related to players taking charges might cause change.
Switch to death.
I’ve seen lots of really effective switching from non-switch bigs. Guys like Jokic, Vucevic, Love, and more. Having really impactful gap defenders (Alex Caruso or Jimmy Butler, as the best examples) allows bigs to survive in switch. But those defenses haven’t just survived — they’ve completely annihilated offenses by forcing them into static isolation play. (Just look at Toronto’s fourth quarter against Chicago.)
As league-wide offenses become more impactful, even great isolation ball is falling behind the 8-ball. Heliocentrism doesn’t seem like the future, like, at all. And defenses are making sacrifices to ask opponents to act heliocentric. I’ve been loving it, and I think Toronto could really use Poeltl as a switch big at times to gum up offenses.
Viva La Defence.
The physicality of the first round showed that offences had become too dominant and the constant whistle-blowing had taken away the flow of the game. I see a more balanced playing style, curbing offensive freedom, and giving more leeway to defenders going forward.
All you can eat Wings.
The Cavaliers lost to the Knicks and it’s mainly due to the lack of an elite 3&D wing. Jalen Brunson feasted on Isaac Okoro and Cedi Osman and I feel that not only the Cavs but the Suns, Nuggets, and Kings all lack elite 3&D wings.
Hypothetically speaking, this continues to boost the value of elite 3&D wings on the market.
…such as O.G. Anunoby.