The Toronto Raptors have hit the skids of late, which should serve as a warning sign to Masai Ujiri and the front office that this team needs help. The NBA buyout market might serve as an enticing way for the Raptors to get back on the right track.
This team is in dire need of some help in the backcourt, as the slow development of Malachi Flynn has stressed the bench to breaking point, and some size on the interior, as Aron Baynes’ inability to play defense like Marc Gasol or offense like Serge Ibaka has put the Raptors in some awkward situations late in games.
With only two draft picks, both of which are first-round selections, in the next two seasons and a difficult contract situation that could make it difficult to land a superstar without trading a big contract, adding a bought-out player might be the only way Toronto makes a massive improvement.
These three veterans might still be with their respective clubs, but they could hit the open market if they continue to lose. Once available, Masai Ujiri should be ready to pounce.
These 3 NBA buyout candidates could be targets for the Raptors
No. 3: Robin Lopez, Washington Wizards
While he is no fan of the Raptor mascot, Lopez might end up with Toronto by the end of the season. While Lopez’ Wizards are suddenly starting to have a sharp uptick in form, the odds are that they will come up short in the postseason, which could lead to Lopez getting bought out in the name of joining a contender.
Lopez is averaging 8.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per game this season. He has abandoned the 3-point shot he experimented with alongside twin brother Brook with the Milwaukee Bucks last year, choosing instead to go to work down in the post for a Wizards team that has lacked size since the Thomas Bryant injury.
How would Robin Lopez help the Raptors?
While Baynes is a better defender, he and Lopez are equal in terms of their rebounding skill, while Lopez offers a much higher ceiling on offense. While Pascal Siakam can finish inside at a much higher efficiency than Baynes, adding Lopez could allow Siakam to move back to his power forward spot, where he is more comfortable.
Lopez is by no means a big name, and Washington might want to hold on to him given the lack of depth following the Bryant injury. Having said that, he will have plenty of contenders interested in him if he hits the open market, and Toronto could beat everyone else to the punch.