The Toronto Raptors might be watching the postseason at home after almost a decade of consecutive appearances, but eight more teams have since joined them at home on the couch. Among them are plenty of Raptors free agency targets.
The New York Knicks and Boston Celtics joined their Atlantic Division mates at home after getting taken down by the Hawks and Nets, respectively. Meanwhile, the West saw teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers bite the dust due to the lack of depth opposite their superstar.
With both teams likely looking to retool, the Raptors could be the benefactors of that reorganization, as they could say goodbye to some prized free agents that the Raptors, who could be in a very promising financial spot this offseason, could pursue as they try to put their sabbatical in Tampa behind them.
If the Raptors decide to be proactive instead of reactive with regards to their free agency approach, one of these four impending free agents might be able to help Toronto bounce back to the postseason.
The Toronto Raptors could sign one of these 4 free agents.
4. Nerlens Noel, C, New York Knicks
The Knicks were able to snatch the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference thanks to a stifling defense, and Noel’s play is a huge reason why. Following an injury to starter Mitchell Robinson, Noel proved that despite his offensive deficiencies, he is a starting center in this league due to his defense.
Noel was the only player in the NBA last season to record at least 2.0 blocks and 1.0 steals per game, as he has the verticality to challenge anyone and the length to disrupt passing lanes. WIth Khem Birch a free agent and Toronto still in need of a starting center, adding Noel has some value.
Nerlens Noel could start at center for the Toronto Raptors.
Noel, a former No. 1 recruit and No. 6 overall pick, may never become an elite offensive center, but he has shown that he can run the floor and finish inside with some degree of success. With most of Toronto’s best players lying on the perimeter, being able to do that and pass well is all they need in a center.
Birch coming back would obviously be an ideal situation, but Noel would represent one heck of a quality backup plan for the Raptors while improving their defense instantly. It might take some money to pry him away from the Knicks, but the Raptors need to do their due diligence on him as a potential fix.