The Venn Diagram of Toronto Raptors fans and people who watched enough Glee to understand the reference of that headline is just two separate circles just close enough for me to fit in the middle. Yet, we ride. It’s been a wild couple of weeks in Raptors Land (Jurassic World?).
We had the NBA Draft, where the Raptors only move was to pick Gradey Dick at 13th, immediately increasing the overall vibes of the team, but equally confusing some. Then, free agency kicked off, and the Raptors signed back Jakob Poeltl, but also lost the fight for Fred VanVleet to Houston, where he signed a max deal.
There were a few more signings that night — Denis Schroder and Jalen McDaniels — but other than that, the Raptors have been pretty quiet in free agency... so far.
So, a lot has gone on! Let’s recap this past week in Toronto Raptors news:
On July 4th, the Toronto Raptors announced that they had finalized their coaching staff for the 2023-2024 NBA season. They added a nearly entirely new staff to go along with their new head coach Darko Rajakovic.
Front of the bench assistant coaches will be Pat Delany, Jama Mahlalela, and James Wade. Mahlalela was previously an assistant coach for the Raptors and even served as head coach for the Raptors 905. Most recently, he had been an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, and now returns to the Raptors.
James Wade comes to the Raptors by way of the Chicago Sky, where he served as the head coach and general manager. Wade is a WNBA Champion with the Sky, where he won in 2021. This will be Wade’s first NBA coaching job.
.@coachjameswade has accepted an Assistant Coach position for the @Raptors, and has stepped down as Chicago Sky General Manager and Head Coach.— Chicago Sky (@chicagosky) July 1, 2023
Thank you for EVERYTHING, James. Good luck in Toronto!
Also joining the coaching staff is Jim Sann, who will be going into his eighth season with the Raptors. Mike Batiste, Vin Bhavnani, Drew Jones and Ivo Simovic will all be going into their first season with the Raptors.
Lots of new and exciting faces on the Raptors bench this season!
Siakam Trade Rumours
After the dust settled post-VanVleet signing, many wondered what direction the Raptors would be going in with the rest of their roster. Obviously their plan was to re-sign both Fred VanVleet and Jakob Poeltl, and make an attempt of running it back. So with Fred gone, where did that leave them?
There have been (and still are as I write this on July 7) many rumours surrounding Siakam’s future. The two-time All-Star is playing the best basketball of his life, and the price is high. He is soon up for a contract extension, but there is question as to whether or not he wants to STAY and play for the Toronto Raptors.
Michael Grange of Sportsnet recently reported that both Siakam and Fred VanVleet had become “frustrated” with the younger Raptors players over the last season. Both VanVleet and Siakam, despite not even being 30 yet, were some of the oldest players on the roster last season — they were undoubtedly the leaders of that team. Could those frustrations with some of the newer, younger teammates be enough to drive Siakam somewhere else?
Things got even MORE interesting when Damian Lillard requested a trade out of Portland this week. The superstar has lost faith in the Trail Blazers being able to build a contending team, and has his sights set on being traded to Miami. There is speculation on whether or not the Trail Blazers will cooperate fully with him and his wishes to play for the Heat — it’s been reported that they are taking calls from just about anyone in regards to Lillard’s future.
Do the Raptors have any chance in that fight? Maybe, but it doesn’t seem like bringing Dame here, only to give away Siakam is a good way to build a contending team. Lillard AND Siakam? That’s a winning team.
Siakam had also been reported to be a target for the Atlanta Hawks, but the chances of that went down this week when Dejounte Murray agreed to an extension.
We’ll have to wait a little longer to see what Siakam’s future with the Raptors looks like.
Summer League Roster
In lighter news, Summer League is here! The NBA’s newest are down in Las Vegas right now to start getting their feet wet with some professional basketball. Newest Raptors Gradey Dick and Markquis Nowell are among the familiar names on the Raptors Summer League Roster.
Both Christian Koloko and Jeff Dowtin Jr are sitting out of Summer League for health/injury purposes. Koloko is managing a respiratory condition, while Dowtin Jr is recovering from a surgery he had in May.
The Raptors Summer League team will be coached by Pat Delany.
Joe Wieskamp, David Johnson, and Ron Harper Jr. are also on the roster in Vegas. The Raptors open play July 7th (today!) at 6:30pm ET.
...and that’s what you missed from the Raptors! Stay tuned this week for more Summer League coverage!