The Toronto Raptors spent much of last season distraught with their centre play, as both Aron Baynes and Alex Len failed to provide serviceable minutes at the position. It’s no surprise, then, that the team wants to hold on to the guy who helped dig them out of that hole.
Yes, Khem Birch will be returning to Toronto on a long-term deal, reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski to be for three years and $20 million.
Free agent C Khem Birch is returning to the Toronto Raptors on a three-year, $20M contract, his agent Austin Brown of @caa_basketball tells ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) August 5, 2021
The 28-year-old Birch played in 19 games for the Raptors after being signed in April, starting 17 of them. He quickly showed great potential at the five spot, averaging 11.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, seeing a significant minutes increase from his time with the Orlando Magic (19.8 to 30.4 a night).
Maybe the most promise for Birch came in chemistry-building, as he worked well with both Fred VanVleet and Malachi Flynn in the pick and roll, while providing the much-needed tenacious rebounding that the Raptors had been missing prior.
Is this a bit more money than we expected to see go to Birch? Maybe. It’s easy to see, though, why the Raptors felt comfortable doling it out. Mobile big men are getting paid this week. Come year two or three, this might look like decent value for what the Montreal native provides.
Since Toronto didn’t hold Birch’s bird rights heading into this off-season, this contract will likely come out of the team’s mid-level exception. There is also the possibility of options in the third and final year, which have yet to be reported on.