Coming off winning their first NBA Championship, the Toronto Raptors went into free agency with one player on their minds: Kawhi Leonard. Locking down Leonard was priority number one, but the Raptors soon found out that home is where the heart is, and where Leonard’s heart truly lay.
Free Agency Recap for The Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors Free Agency Gains and Losses: Jurrasic Park Loses its T-Rex
The Toronto Raptors have shelled out only $21.4 million so far this offseason. The biggest moves they have made so far are re-signing Patrick McCaw to a two-year deal worth $8 million, while also signing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for one-year deal for $1.7 million, Stanley Johnson for two years, $7.4 million and guard Matt Thomas, who has been in Europe the past two seasons, to a three-year, $4.2 million deal. What the Raptors get in Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson are defensively minded forwards with a limited shooting ability. Thomas, on the other hand, gives the Raptors shooting depth.
However, the Raptors lost a lot more than they gained. A whole lot. The Raptors lost two of their most important players as Leonard went to the Los Angeles Clippers and Danny Green departed for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Effects of Free Agency: From Queens to Pawns
Losing Leonard, and to a lesser extent Green, is no easy pill to swallow. But to immediately write off the Toronto Raptors from championship aspirations next year is, well, completely reasonable. The Raptors have to be given respect for providing a championship and the league will have to respect that they still have a championship roster with loads of talent. But they just don’t have the same threat level as last season.
In the signings of Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson, the Toronto Raptors have managed to pick up some of the defensive downturns that stemmed from the departure of Leonard and Green. In Thomas, the Raptors are getting a player with the capability to shoot the ball. Thomas averaged 11.4 points per game last season in Liga ACB on good shooting averages. Thomas shot 4.5 threes per game, hitting 48.5 percent of them and 3.5 two-point shots, converting on 51.1 percent. Toronto will be excited to see if Thomas can maintain the high shooting average over in the NBA. The re-signing of Patrick McCaw ensures the Raptors depth at shooting guard position and keeping the depth at all positions one through five.
Season Outlook: The Toronto Raptors Aren’t Done Yet
All the signings the Toronto Raptors made this offseason were for depth. With the signings they made, The Raptors have ensured they can have a strong starting five and have ample depth to support those starters. The Raptors have the potential for a defensively strong starting lineup with the bench to keep them in the top five in defensive rating, where they have been the past two years.
All eyes will be to the North and heavily on Pascal Siakam. Siakam had a breakout year in his third season in the league and carried that momentum form his brilliant third-year campaign into the postseason, proving to have the potential to be a real difference maker for this Toronto lineup. Although the Raptors chances of solely making the postseason and maybe even the Finals don’t entirely lay on his shoulders, he has the potential to be the difference for the team that now belongs to him.
Losing Leonard leaves a sore spot. There is nothing Toronto can do about that now, but they have given themselves a fighting chance and if they go down, they will go down swinging. Leonard’s heart truly lay in Los Angeles and the Raptors made do with what they could.
Free Agency Grade: C
Embed from Getty Images