Key additions: Josh Jackson, Otto Porter Jr., Juancho Hernangomez (free agency)
Key subtractions: None
Last season: It was a reasonably good season for the Raptors, who won 48 games in a very good conference and lasted six games with the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. There were two very encouraging developments: Pascal Siakam (22.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 5.3 app) resumed a high level of play after a one-season regression, and Scottie Barnes earned Kia Rookie of the Year honors. In addition, Gary Trent Jr. (18.3 ppg) proved to be a wise free-agent signing from the summer of 2021. Had Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby not missed a combined 51 games with injuries, maybe the Raptors would’ve cracked the 50-win barrier. Nonetheless, Toronto remained a solid franchise with depth and a star in Siakam, one of the league’s better players over the season’s final three months.
Summer summary: It was mainly quiet on the offseason front for the Raptors because they lacked a first-round pick and refused to gut the team for the chance to get Kevin Durant. More on that in a minute.
But first: Toronto made a good-value buy on the free agent market by adding Porter, who comes fresh off a championship run with Golden State.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) September 23, 2022
Porter was an ace 3-point shooter during his time with the Wizards, then dealt with nagging injuries that cut into his court time, then re-established himself as a range shooter last season with the Warriors, where he fit right in with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Porter is also a dependable defender and should help the Raptors in that area. All told, Porter seems like an ideal fit with the second unit and somebody who can start if necessary, much like he did with the Warriors during their title run.
The Raptors also added some “Hustle” by picking up Hernangomez, the surprise supporting actor in the 2022 movie starring Adam Sandler. He played sparingly for three teams last season and could carve out a rotational role in Toronto. In addition, the Raptors signed undrafted swingman Ron Harper Jr. who’ll likely be stashed in the club’s player development program.
And now, about KD:
There were signs of flirtation between the Raptors and Nets regarding the disgruntled star before KD and Brooklyn agreed to a truce. This didn’t come as a major surprise. Raptors executive Masai Ujiri rolled the dice on a devalued star before when he swapped DeMar DeRozan for one season of Kawhi Leonard three years ago, and how’d that work out?
This was a different situation in that Durant is under contract for four seasons and therefore in no danger of fleeing through free agency, as Leonard did, bailing on the 2019 champs for the Clippers.
But any conversations between the two clubs ended at the mere mention of Barnes being included in a package. It was essentially a deal breaker, and imagine that: A team refusing to swap a player with one season of experience for a player with a Kia MVP award and two Finals MVPs.
However, Durant is 34 and Barnes just turned 21. That’s too much of a gap, and besides, the Raptors are anxious to keep Barnes in the fold for a long time. It’s not easy to get free agents to play in Toronto (the weather, high taxes, money exchange), notwithstanding the charm of the city (see Kawhi). Therefore, it’s in the club’s best interest to draft and hold as best as possible.
So the Raptors want to run it back with better health for VanVleet, perhaps a breakout season on the horizon for OG, continued star power from Siakam and more from Barnes. That’s a very good rotation that, if everyone stays healthy, could make noise in the East.
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Up next: Philadelphia 76ers | Previously: Washington Wizards
> 30 teams in 30 days: Complete schedule
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