Following the trade deadline and the signing of Malcolm Miller to a 10-day contract, the Raptors have only 11 players on their roster. That means more warm bodies are incoming! Who could they be?
In the immediate aftermath of this week’s action, there are already several candidates on the market (although two of them, Wayne Ellington and Wes Matthews, appear to have selected new teams already — the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers, respectively). There are sure to be more buyouts over the next couple of weeks as well.
The Raptors are in a bit of a tough spot; although they can offer the chance at a deep postseason run, and can even offer a bit of extra money due to having the full midlevel exception available, they can’t offer guaranteed playing time. Many buyout players are likely looking to be able to contribute, to show their value, in order to earn more future contracts.
Let’s break down the Raptors’ needs, and who’s out there that might fit the bill, and whether or not they’d be interested in signing in Toronto.
Third-string point guard/playmaker
Who’s available? Milos Teodosic
Who might be available? Jeremy Lin
At this point, the PG market is pretty thin. Teodosic has been very effective playing against the Raptors, and his passing chops would make him a good fit in what has, at times, been a stagnant bench offense. Early reports have Teodosic more interested in returning to Europe, however.
Lin would seem to be the ideal candidate, a smart veteran player who can hit open shots and still break opponents down when needed. But Atlanta seems to be playing hardball, and early indications are they won’t buy out any of their veterans.
Best candidate: Lin remains the best candidate of the two, but it seems unlikely either will be available to sign with Toronto.
Who’s available? Nik Stauskas, Ben McLemore, Michael Beasley, Carmelo Anthony
Who might be available? Vince Carter, Chandler Parsons
This is a real mixed bag of youngsters who haven’t shown they can consistently contribute (Stauskas, McLemore) and veterans who are past their prime (uh, everyone else).
Stauskas and McLemore are intriguing here. Stauskas, a hometown guy, had some excellent moments with the Trailblazers early this year before falling out of the rotation. McLemore saw his minutes sliced dramatically this season as the Kings actually got good, but he’s posting a career-high percentage from downtown (41%) on 2.2 attempts per game. Is he the type of young player who could thrive with a scenery change to a strong franchise, rather than a horror show franchise such as the Kings?
As for the rest... I'm not sure these players move the needle for me. On the court, Beasley can probably offer the most, but his, ahem, colourful personality might not mesh with the team. Carter’s skillset is a great fit as well, but the larger distraction isn’t really something the team needs. If Parsons really is healthy, he’d be perfect, but that’s about the biggest “if” in the NBA.
Best candidate: I’m really going back and forth with Beasley and McLemore. Given the chemistry, I think I’ll have to go with McLemore.
Backup centre/power forward
Who’s available? Enes Kanter, Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris, Zach Randolph
Who might be available? Robin Lopez, Dewayne Dedmon, DeAndre Jordan
Now here’s a more interesting list! Where to start? A Randolph/Gasol reunion? That’d be super-fun, but Randolph hasn’t played basketball in ages, and I don’t think there’s enough time to get him in to game shape.
Morris could bring some of the toughness and bravado (that we’ve endlessly mocked the hapless Wizards for) to a real contender, but, he’s been out two months with a neck injury, and can’t even play in contact drills yet.
Speaking of former Wizards, Gortat routinely roasted the Raptors in many a Raptors-Wizards matchup. He’s certainly past his prime, but might be ideal as a third stringer who can come in, set some hard screens, and knock down open jumpers.
Kanter is perhaps best-known for Billy Donovan declaring him unplayable in the playoffs, so that’s not a good sign when considering who to sign for a playoff run. But his rebounding and scoring ability could certainly benefit the Raptors.
Another Hawk who probably won't hit the market, Dedmon would also be a good fit, as a centre who can pop out and shoot. Jordan is the opposite, good for blocking shots, rebounding and catching lobs; he probably would want more playing time, though, were he to get bought out.
Lopez would seem to be an ideal candidate. As good a screener as Gortat, but bigger and younger, he’s got good hands around the hoop, and is a strong locker-room/team chemistry presence. The Bulls, however, are notoriously prickly about buying players out of their contracts.
Best candidate: It’s Lopez, but absent a buyout, it’s probably Gortat, followed by Kanter.
Who do you want the Raptors to sign? Who do you think might become available? Let us know in the comments!