The Toronto Raptors won’t get a shot at defending their title. The Raptors were bounced in the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs by the Boston Celtics after losing Game 7 on Friday. Toronto put up a fight but was ultimately the weaker team. Without Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors weren’t able to make another title run and now you’ve got a lot of roster decisions to make this offseason. Let’s go over what Toronto should do.
Toronto Raptors free agents
The big man is all but gone. There’s really no reason for the Raptors to bring back Gasol at the age of 35. After watching him this postseason, I wonder if Gasol will continue playing basketball. No offense to Gasol, he’s a champion and a 3x All-Star. The issue is he looked washed this postseason and you wonder if the injuries and age are catching up. Gasol was making $25.5M this season, though he should command much less on his next deal. That still might be a pretty hefty number, so unless Gasol wants to take a team-friendly, short-term deal, his time in Toronto is likely over.
Ibaka is a bit of a tougher call. Initially, I’d say at 30 years old, Ibaka isn’t getting any better/younger. He was also making a ton of money at 23.2M this season. Ibaka was huge this season though, averaging 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds mostly playing off the bench. He can defend the rim and stretch it out and shoot from outside. It’s rare to find 7-footers with Ibaka’s skill set.
To me it would obviously come down to money. Perhaps Ibaka is fine taking less money on a short-term deal to stay and reload for another run at a ship in 2020-21. The Raptors have a ton of cap flexibility and Kyle Lowry is still signed for 2020-21. I don’t think Toronto will blow it all up and trade Lowry. If anything this season showed that the Raptors are probably one more fringe, All-Star caliber piece away from having a title contender again.
VanVleet is the one due for a BIG payday — even after struggling in the postseason. The Raptors can’t mess this up like the Bucks did with Malcolm Brogdon. Keeping VanVleet is very important for the Raptors moving forward, especially considering Lowry’s contract is up after next season (plus he’s 34). VanVleet is 26 and in the prime of his career. He’s a borderline All-Star and pairing him with Pascal Siakam long-term makes a lot of sense. Keep the boys together for the most part and Toronto will be perennial title contenders.
The only snag with FVV could be money, but the Raptors have plenty of cap flexibility, especially if both Gasol and Ibaka walk. That would be nearly $50M in cap space off the books. FVV was only making $9M this season, so him getting bumped up to the max doesn’t put you in a huge bind. If VanVleet continues on this career path, we could see him set all new career highs again in 2020-21.