Toronto Raptors: Breaking Down How They Can Save Their Struggling Franchise

Patrick BrittonAnalyst IJune 21, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 11:  Rudy Gay #22 of the Memphis Grizzlies is fouled by Randy Foye #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers as Gay makes the layup in the first quarter in Game Six of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2012 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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There are currently three Eastern Conference teams that have failed to make the playoffs at least once in the last four years: the Washington Wizards, New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors.

Clearly, the Raptors have had little success over the past five years, but there are certain things that Toronto can do in the next couple years that will make them a perennial playoff squad.

While the Raptors have plenty of money to spend this offseason, they must spend it wisely. They should go after someone big in free agency, but it is vital that they keep the number of years in the contract to a minimum.

As the Orlando Magic found out with Rashard Lewis, and Washington with Gilbert Arenas, it is very rare that a good player lives up to their full contract.

Steve Nash or Goran Dragic would be good signings for the Raptors at point guard. Nash is 38 and will retire within the next couple seasons, while Dragic only began starting this year and should receive an affordable amount.

Either of the two would be an upgrade at point guard, and would allow Toronto to dangle Jose Calderon’s expiring contract as trade bait.

It’s clear the Raptors need to address the small forward position, and they can do so without committing too many years to one player.

Rudy Gay and Andre Iguodala are two former All-Stars who might be on the block. Either of the two would fit well with the Raptors plan, as Gay has three years left on his deal while Iguodala only has two.

They would help Toronto both next year and in the future, because they can either sign them to an affordable extension or let them walk in free agency and clear a large chunk of cap room.

Currently the Raptors are not bad enough to draft a franchise player, so the best thing they can to do going forward is to start winning games. Toronto is not usually a place where many high profile NBA free agents sign, as most are not comfortable playing in a foreign country.

However, if Toronto is seen as a team that could go deep in the playoffs, players would consider signing north of the border.

In conclusion, if the Raptors make sure to sign good players on short-term deals, they will be competitive next year and in the future when the big contracts expire and the young players have developed.