Another important offseason awaits the Toronto Raptors.
In 2019, the Raptors saw two starters leave in free agency in Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. In 2020, the Raptors were left having to rebuild their center rotation after Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka moved from Toronto to Los Angeles.
This offseason, the Raptors will have to navigate the unrestricted free agency of Kyle Lowry, arguably the greatest player in franchise history.
While Lowry’s future with the Raptors is the biggest storyline for Toronto, he’s not the only player on the roster set to become a free agent at the season’s end.
Unrestricted free agents
In addition to Kyle Lowry, Stanley Johnson and Khem Birch will be unrestricted free agents.
Johnson didn’t see the court much in his first season with the Raptors but played in 61 games this season, 13 of which he started in. In 16.5 minutes per game, he averaged 4.4 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.9 assists on 38.2 percent shooting from the field.
As up and down as Johnson was offensively, he made his impact felt on the other end of the court.
Birch joined the Raptors after he was waived by the Orlando Magic around the trade deadline and made an immediate impact. He started in 17 of the 19 games he appeared in with the Raptors, posting averages of 11.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Birch posted two double-doubles with the Raptors and scored a career-high 20 points in a loss to the Denver Nuggets on April 29.
Restricted free agents
The No. 37 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Gary Trent Jr. will be a restricted free agent in the offseason, giving the Raptors the option of matching any offer sheet he signs.
Trent struggled in his last few games of the season but showed his potential after the Raptors acquired him from the Portland Trail Blazers at the trade deadline. In his first 10 games in a Raptors uniform, he averaged 18.4 points on .467/.411/.857 shooting splits. He scored 20 or more points in four of those games, including a career-best 44 points on 17-for-19 shooting from the field in a win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on April 10.
If Trent were to accept his $4.7 million qualifying offer for the 2021-22 season, he would become an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
The only Raptor with a team option in their contract for the 2021-22 season is Aron Baynes.
Baynes’ option is worth $7.3 million. If the Raptors decline it, he will join Lowry, Johnson and Birch in unrestricted free agency.
Baynes started in 31 of the 53 games he appeared in this season but struggled to find his role on the team. The Raptors shifted to a smaller starting lineup 28 games into the season and ended the season with Birch as their starting centre.
Nobody on the Raptors has a player option for the 2021-22 season.
Rodney Hood, DeAndre’ Bembry, Paul Watson, Yuta Watanabe and Freddie Gillespie each have partial guarantees or non-guaranteed contracts for next season.
According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, the Raptors have until Aug. 6 to guarantee Watson’s $1.7 million contract and until Aug. 7 to guarantee Bembry’s $2.0 million contract. Additionally, Watanabe’s salary protection will increase from $0 to $375,000 if he isn’t waived by Aug. 9. The remaining $1.4 million on Watanabe’s contract will become guaranteed if he hasn’t been waived by the first game of next season.
Similar deal with Gillespie. He will receive $50,000 in salary protection if he’s still on the roster past Aug. 20. His $1.5 million contract will then be fully guaranteed if he hasn’t been waived by the first game of next season.
As for Hood, the Raptors have until July 27 to decide on whether or not they’re going to guarantee his $10.9 million contract for next season. While Hood only averaged 3.9 points per game with the Raptors, he was having one of the best seasons of his career prior to tearing his Achilles in 2019-20. His contract could also be useful to match salaries in a trade.
|Kyle Lowry (UFA)||–|
|Aron Baynes (TO)||$7,324,390|
|Stanley Johnson (UFA)||–|
|Gary Trent Jr. (RFA)||–|
|Khem Birch (UFA)||–|
According to Real GM’s Keith Smith, the maximum amount of cap space the Raptors can create this offseason is $34.2 million, putting them behind only the New York Knicks ($72.8), Oklahoma City Thunder ($61.4 million), San Antonio Spurs ($51.8 million) and Dallas Mavericks ($35.4 million) for most in the league.
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