Living in what is now the Land that Forgot Time, you can be forgiven if you didn’t realize that tomorrow is Halloween. Yes, tomorrow!
The Content Gods, of course, do not forget, and thus they have demanded, as they always do, that we pepper you with spookily-themed articles. (As if living through a pandemic isn’t scary enough!) And despite no trick-or-treating or Halloween parties or wearing probably-inappropriate costumes to work, we must oblige.
The truth is, with this being a pivotal offseason for the Toronto Raptors, there are some thoughts that have us waking up in cold sweats. Like trading OG Anunoby for Andrew Wiggins and the second overall pick! Actually, that was more in line with Scary Movie than Scream, but still.
With that in mind, what follows are five potential offseason headlines that, should they come to pass, would spark real terror in the hearts of Raptors fans.
1. Fred VanVleet Signs Four-year Contract with New York Knicks
The prospect of Fred VanVleet signing elsewhere is real, and if he doesn’t re-sign with the Raptors, it’s gonna suck no matter where he goes. Thankfully, none of the current contenders with guard needs have any cap space to sign VanVleet outright (it would be really scary if he somehow went to the Bucks!), so if he leaves, he’ll likely go to a lottery team. And the worst prospect among them is the New York Knicks.
Not because he’ll make the Knicks a threat to the Raptors; VanVleet would make the Knicks better, but not that much better. No, it’s scary because Raptors fans like Fred VanVleet, and we wouldn’t wish playing for James Dolan and the New York Knicks on one of “our guys.” Heck, we wouldn’t wish it on anyone!
If VanVleet is destined to leave, let it be for the young, exciting Phoenix Suns, or for our old pal Dwane Casey in Detroit. Anyone but the Knicks.
2. Giannis Antetokounmpo Signs Super-max Extension to Stay in Milwaukee
The Raptors are (of course) interested in signing reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in free agency next offseason, but Giannis could put rain on that parade by re-signing with the Bucks this offseason. That would most likely signify his intention to remain in Milwaukee long-term, dashing our hopes of luring him here (and he couldn’t be traded for a year after signing a designated veteran player extension, aka the super-max extension).
To be fair, Giannis re-signing with the Bucks would allow other dominoes to fall; the Raptors may be willing to spend a little more this offseason knowing their prime target next offseason is off the board. (Although there are other potential 2021 free agents the Raptors could pursue.) Still, the thought of bringing Giannis to Toronto in 2021 is an exciting one, and it’s scary to think the thought could vanish as soon as next month.
3. Kyle Lowry Traded to Philadelphia 76ers
I can’t think of anything scarier than Kyle Lowry playing basketball anywhere other than Toronto. But if he went to his hometown 76ers, who need veteran leadership and a steady hand? Who have a new coach (a former point guard) and new president (who used to have Kyle Lowry on his team in Houston)? Kyle would likely excel in Philly and ensure the Sixers leapfrog the Raptors in the standings. Much as I wish Kyle the best in whatever he does, that sounds awful.
It doesn’t even matter who the Raptors got back in such a trade — Lowry’s such a deeply ingrained part of the Raptors organization at this point, you can’t put a price on it.
I can’t even write about this, it’s too upsetting.
4. Masai Ujiri Declines Contract Extension
It’s scary enough that Raptors president Masai Ujiri has yet to sign a contract extension. If news broke that he was in fact actively declining an offer from MLSE, well, that would break the collective heart of Raptors fandom.
To be honest, the fact that he hasn’t signed anything yet (and surely MLSE has put an offer on the table) is at least getting us mentally prepared for him leaving. If he had no intension of leaving, I have to think he’d have already signed on the dotted line!
His hesitancy must mean he wants to keep his options open. Which is understandable, certainly; I’m sure he wants to see what jobs are available in the 2021 offseason, and heck, what the whole world looks like in 2021. (If we even make it that far.)
So I get it. But it’s scary. Masai leaving is a terrible, terrifying idea.
I’m freaking myself out here. Why did I even write this article??
5. After 25 seasons, The Raptor Retires
I love the Raptor, and I know you do too. I once joked (in the pre-Masai days) that he was the single best thing about the franchise (at the time, I was right). Imagine if he decided to call it quits!?
There’s been no indication he’s heading for extinction, of course. But he’s been prowling the sidelines and aisles, jumping off trampolines, doing pratfalls and getting beat up by various Lopez brothers for 25 years. He’s got to be tired and bruised and battered and, well, he’s not a spring Raptor anymore, you know?
Seriously, the man inside the suit has been doing an incredible job since day one — and it is, from all reports, the same guy that hatched outta the egg in ‘95 — and whenever he decides to hang up his fangs, he’ll have earned it. But not now, please. The world needs all the joy it can get right now. We need The Raptor in our lives.
Fingers crossed, then, that we escape the spooky season — and the offseason! — without any of the above having come to pass. Have a safe and happy Halloween everyone.