Between the COVID-19 outbreak, to playing in Tampa, to an assortment of ill-timed injuries to key players, few things went right for the Toronto Raptors this past season. It was a disaster season off the court, creating all sorts of issues on the court. But the Raptors’ biggest mistake, a mistake Masai Ujiri admitted to during his season-ending press conference, was the organization’s handling of the center position.
The organization bungled its 2020 offseason, letting Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol both walk and signing Aron Baynes and Alex Len in their place.
“I think on my part, I failed to see what we were looking for, maybe the type of bigs we were looking for should have maybe have been a different type of player,” Ujiri said during his season-ending media availability. “That’s on me.”
Now, the Raptors are back in the center market and reportedly have their eyes on free-agent-to-be Nerlens Noel, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.
Toronto is one of a handful of teams eyeing the former New York Knicks big. The Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, and Brooklyn Nets, are all reportedly interested in adding the defense-first big, HoopsHype and SNY.
While Noel isn’t going to be the high-end starting center the Raptors are so desperate for, he is still a valuable rim protector who averaged 2.2 blocks per game last season and shouldn’t come at too high a price. Ideally, Toronto could scoop him up along with a more talented center or a draft prospect like Evan Mobley that projects to have more long-term superstar talent.