The Toronto Raptors have a few roster deficiencies to address in the offseason. Surely they will depend on internal development to improve their shooting and rim protection, but here are a few names that could fit their budget and help them get better ahead of next season. Listen to the full episode on the 'Raptors Over Everything' podcast feed.
AMIT MANN: Final question for you, Eric, as we're talking about money and upgrades and stuff like that, free agents. We don't know how active the Raptors are going to be in the free agent market because of the plethora of players that they're banking on will have great development offseasons. And maybe they can help with some of their deficiencies in shooting and guard depth and so forth. But are there a couple of names that come to mind for you where you think, hmm, that could be interesting, he could fit pretty well?
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah, so as I mentioned, we're looking at the midlevel exception here, unless there's some complicated sign and trade. I sort of discussed the DeAndre Ayton bit in an article. And so let's rule that out, because that's a whole another 15 minutes, probably.
But if they're just using the midlevel exception-- and let's not necessarily think, oh, OK, this guy won't come for one year, or this guy needs like four years guaranteed, and the Raptors will or won't do that, because then we're get it into people's heads who we can't predict.
But some names that jump up to me, like, for a big Bobby Portis who has a player option, some people really didn't like that when I suggested it. And I'm like, this guy can hit shots. He's super-physical. He's maybe not defunding out on the perimeter. But he can do enough there to be competent and doesn't really hem you into a specific style.
And as annoying as he is to play, he's fun to have on your team. He's nasty. As somebody joked to me, him and Pascal Siakam will have the and one crew after--
AMIT MANN: Exactly!
ERIC KOREEN: --take any shot. So look, he's my favorite sort of quasi-big on the market. I also like Isaiah Hartenstein as a younger guy from the Clippers. If you just want to go pure shot blocker, maybe you're looking at somebody like Mitchell Robinson, who I'm less crazy about but does provide that element of rim protection that they don't have.
There's one other name that-- I mean, if you want to go to the restricted, you can go Mo Bamba. I know that's a name that's been circulating.
AMIT MANN: Trendy, yeah.
ERIC KOREEN: I do like him. It's hard-- Orlando has been such a mess for the last few years So it's hard to know how to rate his play properly, other than to say he certainly hasn't been the answer. But he's not the lone reason for that. So those are sort of the bigs that I'd look at.
In terms of wing players at that mid-level price, I believe Pat Connaughton has a player option as well that he can opt out of. He's a guy, I've liked his game a lot. Probably doesn't have the creation that you want from that role. But the mid-level isn't this huge, huge weapon that you're going to be able to get the best free agent on the planet.
Tyus Jones would be fun but I think will probably be a bit out of their range as a true, true point guard to back up Fred VanVleet. Malik Monk, who's first and foremost a shooter but does have that secondary creation, he sort of strikes me as--
The name that was sort of circling at the trade deadline that I loved for the Raptors was Bogdan Bogdanovic, because he's sort of like that. Great shooter, but if the ball's swung to him, he can make a play for other people or for himself. And I think that's the type of guy the Raptors really need. Bogdanovic has more size than Monk. But I do like Monk as a potential fit. I think he'll be in a lot of teams' wish list for the reasons I've just laid out.
So I think those are a few names that jump out. They could go cheaper. They could go younger. In terms of just pure veterans like Otto Porter or Gary Harris, I like those guys as guys I wouldn't want to commit to long-term but guys who I'd love to have around for a year or a year and a partially guaranteed second year.
AMIT MANN: Sure.
ERIC KOREEN: So those are the names that jump out.
AMIT MANN: I love very similar names. But there are a few that stuck out to me that I want to get your thoughts on it. So Bryn Forbes, what are your thoughts on Bryn Forbes?
ERIC KOREEN: I mean, he's pretty one-dimensional, exploitable defensively, for sure. Nice to have, awesome shooter. If you can get him for like the biannual exception for like 4 million, that's not a terrible use of that, I would say. If you're paying more than that, I probably don't love it. But if it's only on a one-year deal, depending on what else you can do, I think he's-- certainly a skill that the Raptors need more of is perimeter shooting, and he can provide that. I just don't think he's giving you-- if he's filling a playoff role, you're probably in trouble.
AMIT MANN: Yes, fair enough. Now, this is a name that you might laugh at. People might laugh at it. But hear me out with this one, JaVale McGee.
ERIC KOREEN: I do not laugh at that. I think, again, you don't want to give him the full mid-level. But if you're committed to playing smaller, whether that includes Precious or not, five of those six guys that we're talking about are your starters.
McGee is a really great rim deterrent. I think he had one of-- I was looking this up yesterday. I think there were only three or four players who faced more than 200 shots or defended more than 200 shots within 6 feet of the rim who held opponents to a lower shooting percentage. So he allows you to play a different way, maybe a more traditional way, that, even if you have to keep your key guys' minutes up-- and hopefully they can be lowered a little bit.
AMIT MANN: Sure.
ERIC KOREEN: Maybe you can mix in some less-demanding schemes that help you protect the paint, which is the Raptors' priority, through other means, other than switching on everything or helping and rotating like hell. And so to have an option of a rim protector who is still also, certainly, a lob threat, I don't hate it.
And Masai Ujiri has, I believe, traded for him. I think in Denver, he traded--
AMIT MANN: Whoa, tea leaves.
ERIC KOREEN: --for JaVale McGee. I don't think that was one of his top five moves or anything like that.
But it wasn't not like him, or at least he did it a decade ago.
AMIT MANN: All we need is one link, right?
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah.
AMIT MANN: The LA Lakers.
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah, obviously.
AMIT MANN: Say the LA Lakers, right?
ERIC KOREEN: He did it a decade ago. So he's still--
AMIT MANN: Yeah, why not?
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah.
AMIT MANN: Yeah. I mean, people think of him as like a Shaq and the fool king. But he is a person who's gone through the Phoenix Suns organization, the Golden State Warriors organization. He's learned a lot.
ERIC KOREEN: And the Lakers-- like, was he on that championship team? I think he--
AMIT MANN: You know what? I think he was, actually. He was an NBA champion.
ERIC KOREEN: Yeah, yeah, so he's a useful regular season player who can give you some five or 10 minutes into play-- again, not a guy you're probably relying on a ton in a playoff series. But he's definitely good for regular season depth and not only in terms of numbers but in terms of stylistic diversity.
AMIT MANN: Lob threat too. Sure could use some of that in the half-court. That would be very nice. And he's--
ERIC KOREEN: Vertical spacing, yeah.
AMIT MANN: Ooh, beautiful, that's a good one. That's a trendy word, vertical spacing. That's what the Raptors are all about, vertical spacing, love it.
How about-- this is my last one for you. And then I'll let you go, Thanasis Antetokounmpo?
ERIC KOREEN: [LAUGHS]
Two-thirds of the way there. He's coming home! Danforth, get ready!
AMIT MANN: Exactly, right? That is the plan. You just get him from the ground. And then you lure them in, slowly but surely.