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Three Free Agency Fits for the Toronto Raptors

Capped out with only a few options this off-season, Adam Francis takes a look at three under-the-radar free agents who might make sense for the Toronto Raptors, and who could be had without breaking the bank.



I have no idea who's on what team anymore.

This past weekend in the NBA saw a free-agency feeding frenzy as multiple players switched teams from marquee (Dwight Howard) to bit players (Shaun Livingston.) It seemed that every time I checked Twitter, another player had been traded or had signed with a team that was indeed different than the one he resided with last season.

It certainly made for an entertaining few days, however for fans of the Toronto Raptors, there wasn't much to discuss regarding their club. On Saturday I noted a few moves that either potentially impacted the team, or had some connection, but Toronto is still for the most part, sitting on the sidelines in terms of snatching up free agents.

And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

We still don't know for sure which approach new General Manager Masai Ujiri will be taking in terms of shaping the roster next season, and he may simply be waiting for the smoke to clear, and sizing up the lay of the land.

Because as also discussed on Saturday, the NBA landscape has certainly changed in the past week, and it's probably not done moving yet. Top name free agents like Brandon Jennings and Jeff Teague are still out there waiting for offers, and Ujiri may want to pick his spots before he strikes.

Oh...and there's that salary cap thing.

The Andrea Bargnani trade looks to be saving the Toronto Raptors about $3M over the course of the transaction, however by my calculations,the club is still sitting at around $65M in current total guaranteed salary, $7 - $8M over the current salary cap. And as the folks at Raptors Republic note here, once a few of the club's guaranteed deals kick in, the club comes perilously close to the NBA's luxury tax limit.

Waiving Linas Kleiza will help ease the financial burden a bit, and maybe Marcus Camby can be bought out, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not enough to put the team under the NBA's salary cap, so Masai Ujiri's best free-agent weapons will be the mid-level and bi-annual exceptions.

The mid-level should come in at $5.15M (max four years length, 4.5% max raises per season) and as I believe the Raps didn't use the bi-annual exception last year, that gives them another $2M to work with. But the team's reported Julyan Stone signing will eat into some of this, perhaps the bi-annual exception, so again...

That doesn't mean there aren't some reasonable targets though that could be had for cheap, so today we give you our top three free-agents, in no particular order, that could be realistic options for the Dinos, as well as a few bonus options:

1. Brandon Wright - F. While the former lottery pick never panned out the way people expected, he's quietly become a very effective player and an advanced stats darling. He posted an average PER of 21 over the past two seasons and had one of the Mavs top on-court/off-court differential marks last season.

The Raptors could use another big body up front, and Wright, while not an elite defender, would give the team some needed length and shot-blocking, plus efficient scoring. He hit on 60 per cent of his two-point attempts the past two seasons, so would provide a nice boost off the bench.

He also wouldn't likely break the bank based on his last contract with the Mavs, and it sounds like the Raptors are already making inquiries.

2. Corey Brewer - G/F. Besides extra big men, the Raps need some defensive help on the wings and Brewer is one of the best options left on the board. Brewer is still only 27 and an absolute terror in the lanes and on the break, something that could both help the Dinos defensively, and kick-start the team's offense.

However Brewer still can't shoot very well, and he made $3.2M last season in Denver so might take up the bulk of the Raptors' mid-level amount. However Ujiri traded for Brewer back in 2011 so he obviously understands what Brewer brings to a club, and he may elect to giving him some run in TO.

3. DeJuan Blair - F. Blair is another HQ fave. He may not be Toronto's answer to Dwight Howard, but Blair would give the Raps some much needed bulk at the forward spot, as well as lots and lots of boards.

He fell out of the rotation last year in San Antonio but prior to that he posted above average PER marks and can provide efficient scoring in limited minutes. He could also likely be had for a pretty solid price.

Three others on the HQ Wish List:

Anthony Morrow - G: I've always been a big Anthony Morrow fan and would love to see him bombing away from long-range in a Raps jersey. Unfortunately he'd likely cost the full mid-level and his playing time would be an issue with the current log jam of scoring wings. Now if a trade goes down though that opens up a spot or two...

Gerald Henderson - G: I wanted the Raps to grab Henderson over DeMar DeRozan in that year's draft and still feel he'll be a more meaningful contributor to a winning team when all is said and done. The two wings have very similar offensive numbers with DeRozan being the bigger offensive threat.

However that's not to say he's a more efficient offensive player. Putting DeRozan and Henderson's stats side by side at you'll see that DeRozan's superior offensive numbers are mostly due to his being more of the focal point of his team's offense with Henderson sporting better advanced offensive metrics for the most part.

And defensively Henderson is developing into a very nice player.

He's a restricted free agent though and it sounds like the Bobcats will match whatever he's offered.

Chris Andersen - F/C: It's The Birdman. Do I REALLY have to explain this one?