Michael Grange is discussing with Sportsnet Central about the Los Angeles Clippers signing Serge Ibaka, what impact this has on the Toronto Raptors and what their next moves might be.
The second day of the free agency was a very eventful one for the Toronto Raptors and their fans.
The reports that came out around noon on Saturday that Fred VanVleet signed again with Toronto were proven to be dizzy on Twitter. Both were happy that VanVleet was getting the payday it deserved, and because it didn’t completely ruin the bank for the Raptors, they’re supposed to keep their ambitious plans for the 2021 off-season intact.
About 11 hours later, however, that joy turned to melancholy when it was then reported that Serge Ibaka would reunite with Kawhi Leonard and join the Los Angeles Clippers.
Ibaka was one of the most popular members of the Raptors and turned into a dedicated figure thanks to his active social media channels and YouTube page, which made him a fashion icon, celebrity chef and comedian.
But as much as Ibaka is missed for his off-field efforts, the Raptors could really get into trouble without him.
VanVleet was undoubtedly the Raptors’ top priority as a free agent, but in terms of team depth, Toronto would have been fine had they decided to put their talents elsewhere, especially after the club picked Malachi Flynn in the first round of Wednesday’s draft.
On the flip side, Dewan Hernandez and Chris Boucher, who are currently a restricted free agent but in the middle of Toronto where Ibaka is gone and Marc Gasol is also a free agent, the only players likely to fit in with this are likely to return.
That’s pretty problematic for the Raptors, and even if you want to argue that the league is going to be small anyway, you still want someone to start at the five for you, and neither Hernandez nor Boucher seem like that I’m just ready for it.
So it is now quite important that Masai Ujiri, Bobby Webster and Co. . Get out there and try to find a center in the free agent market.
As this year’s free agency showed, the market for centers is roughly in the middle of the non-taxpayer exception (a starting salary of around $ 9). 25 million), but if the Raptors don’t mind paying the luxury tax this season, they’d have the room to go beyond that – something that could help them in their quest for big, start-quality men.
There are options for the Raptors, and here are nine they might want to consider.
Baynes is probably the best option left. He’s tough, sets elite screens and even seems to give his game a three-point shot in a career year with Phoenix last season.
He may be a gamer a little outside the Raptors’ price range, but the heart and rush with which he plays would make him a fan favorite immediately if he joined Toronto.
Biyombo is a real fan favorite and has not been able to recapture the magic he had over four seasons with the Raptors since leaving Toronto as a freelance agency.
Biyombo would undoubtedly make the Raptors stronger defensively, but his inability to shoot the ball may not make him the most attractive option.
Cauley Stein is an athletic rim runner who is a pretty good player but offers little versatility.
With his athleticism, he should be a better defender than he actually is, and he can’t get threesomes. And although he knows what his game is and what isn’t, the skills he brings to the table seem too on par with Boucher’s, minus the outside shooting potential.
Cousins, one sexy name, is a four-time all-star but his career has been marred by an injury. He has only played 95 games in the past four seasons and missed the entire 2019-20 period with an ACL issue.
At one point, Cousins was one of the best centers in the league, but after so many injuries and all this rehab, it’s hard to say what kind of player he might be right now.
With that said he could probably be on the veteran minimum and if he’s anything close to the boogie of yore then the raptors would hit the jackpot.
Sometimes the simplest solutions are best, and in the case of the Raptors, if they can persuade Gasol to return, they may be able to solve that particular problem.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, they – and at least the Golden State Warriors – are currently pursuing gasoline.
Understandably, the idea of the Raptors re-signing Ibaka received a lot of attention, and that’s probably because while Ibaka was arguably having his best season as a pro, Gasol may be having its worst.
Gasol will be 36 by the end of January and his skills may have deteriorated significantly, but when he stepped away from the NBA and FIBA championships last season in the summer of 2019, something always seemed wrong with Gasol so there is a chance 2019-20 was an anomaly and his game will return to him.
If Toronto can convince him to return to a veteran’s minimum amount (approx. 2 US dollars). 5 million) or something similar, it would be worth the risk to find out if he has more in the tank.
At one point in his life, Giles was No.. 1 college recruit in the country. He was dubbed the next big man until he tore up his ACL and affected his development during his senior year of high school.
While he doesn’t have the kind of freaky athleticism he showed in high school, Giles can still be an effective rim runner and rim protector. He is only 22 years old and has completed his sophomore year in the NBA. There is an opportunity there that the development staff in Toronto can exploit untapped potential.
Kaminsky is a stretch-five who doesn’t do much for you on the glass or in defense, but he does have offensive skill and would likely benefit from putting up more three-point points to increase his productivity.
He’s not the strongest contender for the Raptors here, but the ability to shoot the ball, especially if you are seven feet, will warrant you a look.
Len is a big old school bruise with little athleticism and a bad shot on the outside, but he’s got a lot of fuss on the boards and, when he gets a chance, soft hands on the inside.
Len probably wouldn’t be what the Raptors would be targeting as they’re an organization that values versatility. A player who would play better in the 90s doesn’t exactly fit that bill.
Even so, he’s an option out there, and it’s never a bad idea to stay open.
If the Raptors want rim protection, there are few in the league better than Whiteside, who is an elite shot blocker.
He doesn’t offer much in outdoor shooting skills and isn’t a great passerby either, but Whiteside can hit the stone if he gets the chance. His game would likely look like Jonas Valanciunas’ when he was with the Raptors, except Whiteside is a much better defender.
All of this would be tempting to the Raptors, but the question is, how expensive could he run them?
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Serge Ibaka, Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Fred VanVleet, Free Agent, NBA, Kawhi Leonard
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