The Toronto Raptors completed the 2020-2021 NBA season with a record of 27-45 which placed them at 12th in the Eastern Conference and 24th in the league. There were a lot of high expectations on the Raptors this season. After a relatively successful run last season coming off a championship, Toronto was expected to continue their run of good form with some solid additions to their team. Instead, they had continual disappointing performances from their center recruitments and some of their leaders. Nick Nurse seems to have lost his effect on the game and they could not string together any consistent games. This offseason, the Raptors will have two main talking points. What will happen with Kyle Lowry? And who will they draft at number 4? There has been speculation about Kyle Lowry’s potential next destination all season and it will be interesting to see if the Raptors want to bring him back or if they will opt to place faith in their younger guards and go through a minor rebuild.
Currently, the Toronto Raptors have only 4 players with guaranteed contracts for the 2021-2022 NBA season. They do not have any team or player options, but they do have a significant number of players with non-guaranteed salary for next season which they will have to make decisions on. Out of all the non-guaranteed contracts, I expect the Raptors to bring back Chris Boucher, Yuta Watanabe, Paul Watson, DeAndre’ Bembry and Freddie Gillespie. I do not expect to see Rodney Hood or Aron Baynes return to the team next season as their on-court production has not matched their salary and the Raptors will likely prefer to take a chance on some younger guys they can develop. Gary Trent Jr and Nando De Colo are both restricted free agents with bird rights along with Jalen Harris who is a two-way free agent. The Raptors will have several unrestricted free agents including Stanley Johnson, Khem Birch, and most importantly, Kyle Lowry. If the Raptors do decide to bring back Lowry or a combination of any of their other free agents, they will likely be operating as an over-the-cap team and will only have the $9.5 million mid-level and $3.7 million bi-annual exceptions available to them along with some small trade exceptions.
Depth Chart 2020-21 Season–
2021 NBA Draft
The Toronto Raptors got lucky in the lottery and will have the 4th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and are in a great position to fill the void that Kyle Lowry may leave. With most people predicted that there is a clear top three in this draft of Cunningham, Green and Mobley, leaving the Raptors with some solid talent to choose from at number four. With the 4th pick in this year’s draft, the Toronto Raptors should target Jalen Suggs, a 6’4” point guard out of Gonzaga. Suggs has the potential to be a genuine all-star in this league. He has a great feel for the game and can play both sides of the ball effectively. He has a unique ability to make the people around him better with his leadership and playmaking skills. The only thing he has to improve is his consistency from beyond the arc. If he can fix this, he will have a long and successful career in the NBA and be a great replacement for Lowry.
The Toronto Raptors have a difficult free agency period coming up. The main talking point will be surrounding Kyle Lowry. From my point of view, I think it is best for both parties if Lowry finds a new team next season. While he is a franchise icon and has found success in Toronto, it is time to look to the youth to start developing for the next run at a championship. Lowry will be able to go to a team that he can genuinely help win a championship while also giving Toronto the cap space to build their roster back up. With their freed-up cap space, the Raptors will have a few main priorities. They will be looking to bring back restricted free agent, Gary Trent Jr on a multiyear deal in the low teens. They will also likely look to bring back unrestricted free agents, Stanley Johnson, and Khem Birch to provide some depth in the front court. Finally, the Raptors could use their mid-level exception to bring in a player like Frank Kaminsky to boost their center depth with the loss of Baynes. Kaminsky is a solid rebounding big who can on occasion stretch the floor and will be a great addition to this squad.
The Toronto Raptors will enter the offseason with plenty of decisions to make. They have a top four draft pick, an ageing franchise player out of contract and a lot of non-guaranteed and expiring contracts. Ultimately, I believe they will move on from Kyle Lowry and look to their youth to develop over the next few seasons to hopefully make another run at the championship in a couple of years. While it may not look great now, Raptors fans can appreciate that this quad was able to bring them a championship and will be more accepting of a partial rebuild.
Projected Depth Chart 2021/22 Season –