With the latest scheduling reports out there now, we’re almost officially upon the free agency period of the NBA off-season. Now is when speculation tends to run absolutely wild. And in this case — despite everything else that’s going on — we’ve learned that that emotion, the desire to gossip and hypothesize, is something of a movable feast. No matter that we’re into mid-November, the rumour mills are still cranking up and we’ve got to review each and every rumour out there involving the Toronto Raptors.
Thanks to some random gambling website, we have a vague, wild sense for which players could be of interest to the Raptors. I have no idea how legit any of these betting lines are, but, aha, I am also not immune to some good ol’ fashion speculation. In that spirit, let’s review some of the possibilities for Toronto.
According to the odds, the Raptors are not in the lead to sign Gallinari, who has long been a player linked to Toronto. (Is that because of our sizable Italian community in the city? Who’s to say.) The 6’10”, 32-year-old power forward is not the player he once was (ACL injuries tend to do that), but there’s still value to be had in a big man shooter with a mean streak. That’s why the Heat, Suns, and Knicks could be the frontrunners to bring Gallinari their way.
Last season in Oklahoma City, Gallo put up 18.7 points per game on 44 percent shooting (and 40.5 percent from three) while averaging 29.6 minutes across 62 games. In that role, playing off Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Gallinari was a solid complementary piece. The Raptors could use him in that role — especially if they lose one or both of their frontcourt free agents (Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol). Now, Gallinari is not the defender either of those players are (and he definitely couldn’t replace what Gasol does for Toronto), but he does produce and has shown how he can fit into a system to do so. As I said, there’s still value there.
This one caught me by surprise. According to these odds, the Raptors are in the lead to sign Dragic. ahead of the Hawks, Lakers, and Bucks. (My money is on him just returning to the Heat, but what do I know.) With Fred VanVleet’s future up in the air, Toronto could bring in Kyle Lowry’s old teammate and still run an all-time genius backcourt for the next year or two. It makes some sense, is my point.
Let’s remember: Dragic was a key reason why the Heat got all the way to last year’s NBA Finals. Sadly, he hurt his foot just as that series was starting, and though he gamely returned later, the Heat still lost to L.A. in six games. Before all that though, Dragic was still putting up 16.7 points per game and being as annoying as he’s always been throughout his career. I’m not saying I necessarily want to root for Dragic, or that this signing would make any sense for the Raptors, but it would be something to not have to play against him anymore.
Like Dragic, I’m not exactly thrilled to consider the idea of cheering for Joe Harris. It’s still on sight with him after he hurt Lowry with a try-har play in a nothing game back in 2018. Still, the 29-year-old small forward has obvious value as one of the better shooters in the league. He posted 42 percent accuracy from three last season (on 5.9 attempts per game) after a humdinger 47 percent the year before. In doing so, Harris has built himself into a useful piece for just about any team — and it stands to reason the Nets should make every effort to re-sign him. Having a capable (and tall) shooter who doesn’t necessarily need the ball in his hands (like Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant) is useful.
For the Raptors, the fit here makes a lot of sense too. As noted, Harris is 6’7” and could slot it easily to the role Matt Thomas would have if he himself were a few inches taller. And like Thomas, the Raptors could maximize Harris as an off-ball threat who can play within the team’s scrambling defensive schemes (despite not being the strongest one-on-one defender). If nothing else, as with Dragic, the Raptors wouldn’t have to play against Harris anymore, which is a nice thought.
Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka
I don’t know exactly what this means, but I’ll just append this here: as you may have noticed, both VanVleet and Ibaka are included in the odds listings too. Elsewhere on that page, a more binary question is asked: will either of those players return to Toronto? In both cases, the lines seem to favour a return to the Raptors. (As for Gasol, it seems like interest around the league may be dimming.) In fact, the yes/no line for all of the above-noted players favours the status quo. Go figure.
That said, if one or both of Ibaka and VanVleet do leave the Raptors, expect the lines to move on some of those other players as well. In that scenario, Toronto would have some bigger shoes to fill, and this cadre of players may be the most competent names available to do the job. For now, that’s really all we can say — but please, feel free to speculate further.