The NBA off-season has officially gone into chill mode, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still deals out there to be had — or rumours milling themselves into existence. Today, with a report from Yahoo’s Chris Haynes, it has come to our attention that the defending champion Toronto Raptors may be interested in signing centre Kosta Koufos.
See, it says so right here:
Free agent big man Kosta Koufos has received preliminary interest from Detroit, Sacramento, Toronto and Milwaukee, league sources tell Yahoo Sports. The veteran, noted for his defense and rim protection, could be a later signing.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) July 14, 2019
Koufos, a 30-year-old NBA veteran, listed at 7-feet and 245 pounds, has spent the past four seasons plying his trade for the Sacramento Kings, during which his role on the team has gradually shrank. He made sense for the young Kings as a minutes-eating centre, and a big man who could be trusted as the team’s last line of defense at the rim. For his career across 11 seasons, Koufos has averaged 16.4 minutes per game in which he put up 5.7 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 53 percent from the field. He knows exactly what he is, and that can be a comfort for a great number of NBA teams.
That Sacramento happened to give Koufos minutes over some of their developing frontcourt players was a bit of a head-scratcher at the time though. Now, of course, those players are older (or gone, as with Willie Cauley-Stein) and that team’s need for him has lessened. (Also, the Kings recently signed Dewayne Dedmon, who does a lot of the same things in far more productive fashion.) So let’s assume Koufos’ return to the Kings is not imminent.
That leaves the Pistons, who may need a backup centre to support Andre Drummond and Thon Maker (who may never be ready for primetime). If nothing else, Koufos fits into coach Dwane Casey’s lunch-pail team identity as a basketball player. The Bucks meanwhile present a different case, as they could use someone like Koufos to shore up the team’s interior defense when Brook Lopez sits (though they do still have big man Ersan Ilyasova around). Let’s just not tell anyone in Milwaukee that they’re usually best when they go small.
Now then, the Raptors. As insurance for their aging centre, Marc Gasol, there could be a need for Koufos at the right price. Toronto’s other backup centre options right now are (an expensive) Serge Ibaka, and the still raw Chris Boucher and Dewan Hernandez. The latter two options may track more as power forwards anyway, but they are likely to see only limited time on the court for the Raptors this coming season. (Fun note: Ibaka was actually selected one pick after Koufos in the 2008 Draft — 23rd to Serge’s 24-spot.)
That said, as we saw throughout the playoffs, what Toronto could more likely use is a burly power forward. That’s not to say the Raptors have no options at the 4-spot, it’s just that other than Pascal Siakam, there are no true battle-tested 4s on the roster. Toronto came to rely on Kawhi Leonard or Siakam there, with some use of dual-centre lineups featuring Gasol and Ibaka when really necessary. The healthy return of OG Anunoby ameliorates this somewhat for Toronto, but he’s not a true PF either. Kostas on a one- or two-year deal doesn’t really rock the boat much, but he also doesn’t address this need.
In any case, we’re tipping well past 500 words here, which is altogether too much thought on a rumour around the possible signing of a nondescript player like Koufos. Clearly we’re deep into the NBA off-season now. We shall continue to monitor this situation if it develops.