Raptors Could be the NBA’s Next Superteam

0
40


The 2010s was the decade of superteams in the NBA. LeBron James kicked things off by taking his talents to South Beach and it wrapped up with Anthony Davis pairing up with James in Los Angeles to form one of the city’s two superteams.

Now, as we sit on pause before our first offseason of the 2020s, Sports Illustrated decided to take a look at who could be the NBA’s next superteam. Atop that list: The Toronto Raptors, SI’s Michael Shapiro says.

“The Raptors face two disparate paths in the near future, and we should get a good idea of their plans both in 2020 free agency and before the 2020-21 trade deadline,” Shapiro writes.

“The easiest route for Toronto would be to re-sign Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol this summer, or shell out up to nine figures for point guard Fred VanVleet. Toronto could also add another year or two onto Kyle Lowry’s contract–which expires after 2020-21–effectively continuing to ride their roster as currently constructed around Pascal Siakam. The Raptors aren’t a paper tiger in 2019-20. They’re legitimate contenders for the Finals, and Nick Nurse has emerged as one of the league’s premier coaches. It’s not the sexiest path forward, but it’s hard to blame Toronto if it wishes to stay the course after a Finals win in 2019 and a 46–18 record in 2019-20.

“Yet dispute the benefits of stability, it’s hard to shake the feeling that Masai Ujiri has something else up his sleeve. Toronto could look to largely blow up the roster before July 2021, clearing as much cap space as possible to hunt for talent next to Siakam. The Raptors could clear two max salary spots with ease by saying goodbye to Ibaka, Gasol and Lowry before the summer of 2021, with Antetokounmpo looming as the top prize. Ujiri hasn’t been afraid to make a splash before. He could follow up his coup for Kawhi with one of the greatest free agent signings in league history.”

Antetokounmpo has been atop Raptors fans wishlist since he first burst onto the scene in 2016-17 and Toronto found out Ujiri tried to trade up to draft the 6-foot-11 Greek Freak. While the connections between Toronto, Ujiri and Antetokounmpo are clear — Ujiri helped Antetokounmpo’s family immigrate to Greece — the Raptors aren’t going to put all their eggs in one basket.

Even if they whiff on Antetokounmpo, that 2021 free agency class is still potentially loaded with talent including LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Paul George, Victor Oladipo, and Kawhi Leonard — whose daughter apparently regularly FaceTimes Ujiri’s son — who could all hit free agency that summer. Though Toronto’s track record of landing big-name free agents is pretty bleak to say the least, the Raptors winning culture isn’t something to scoff at.

Aaron Rose covers the Toronto Raptors for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter @aaronbenrose or on Facebook @AllRaptors.