NBA Free Agents 2013: Top 5 Players the Toronto Raptors Must Target
A record of 34-48 was good enough for 10th in the Eastern Conference, which was four games back of the eighth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks (38-44).
Progress was made, especially in the second half of the season when Rudy Gay came over from the Memphis Grizzlies, but the rebuilding and renovating of this roster can't stop there.
Other moves must be made.
The Raptors first-round pick (which was sent to the Houston Rockets in the trade for Kyle Lowry) will likely be heading to the Oklahoma City Thunder (via the James Harden trade), so acquiring more talent via the 2013 NBA draft will be out of the question this summer, unless Toronto somehow moves into the first three overall picks.
Toronto won't have a lot of cap space to work with in the free-agent pool, but that shouldn't stop them from taking a look at some available talent that they could possibly get on the cheap.
Of course not.
However, there will be guys on the market that they can realistically acquire that can help improve this basketball team.
Here's a look at five players who will become free agents this summer that the Toronto Raptors should keep their eye on and possibly make a move to bring on board.
(all stats courtesy of ESPN.com and HoopsHype.com)
Paul Millsap, PF, Unrestricted Free Agent - A talented big man whom the Utah Jazz will have a hard time keeping next to Al Jefferson in their frontcourt. Could the Raptors even afford him?
Al Jefferson, C, Unrestricted Free Agent - See Paul Milsap.
Samuel Dalembert, C, Unrestricted Free Agent - His attitude problems and lack of playing time in Milwaukee are red flags, but he remains a serviceable center with excellent length who can block shots and rebound the basketball.
Jason Maxiell, PF, Unrestricted Free Agent - A bruiser of a power forward who has become expendable in Detroit with the emergence of rookie Andre Drummond. A possible reunion with former teammate Amir Johnson in Toronto, perhaps?
Nate Robinson, PG, Unrestricted Free Agent - Would provide the Raptors with a nice scoring punch off of the bench, but will his recent postseason run put him out of Toronto's price range?
Kyle Korver, SF, Unrestricted Free Agent
Current team: Atlanta Hawks
2012-13 statistics: 74 games played, 30.5 minutes, 10.9 points, 46.1% from the field, 45.7% from three-point range, 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.5 blocks, 0.9 turnovers, 13.93 PER
2012-13 salary: $5,000,000
The one aspect of Kyle Korver's game that he excels at more than 99.9 percent of the league is his ability to shoot the three-point shot. Kyle finished second in the NBA this season in three-point shooting percentage, nailing 45.7 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
In fact, Korver is one of only seven players in league history to attempt four or more three-pointers per game for a season and hit at least 45 percent (per Basketball-Reference.com).
The Toronto Raptors weren't exactly lighting up their opponents from that part of the court this season, finishing 24th in the league (34.3 percent) in that department.
Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan are more slashers than straight-up shooters, so bringing in a guy like Korver would give Toronto someone who can consistently stretch the defense and be counted on to hit deep shots.
Devin Harris, PG, Unrestricted Free Agent
Current team: Atlanta Hawks
2012-13 statistics: 58 games played, 24.5 minutes, 9.9 points, 43.8% from the field, 2.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.2 blocks, 1.5 turnovers, 14.69 PER
2012-13 salary: $8,500,000
The days of Devin Harris being a starting-caliber point guard in the NBA are basically over. I don't believe the market is out there for him to sign on for that kind of role anymore.
However, that doesn't mean that Harris has become a scrub.
At 6'3", he can be extremely versatile as a combo guard, playing at either the 1 or 2-spot. The Atlanta Hawks found success this season starting Devin at shooting guard next to Jeff Teague, as the team was 20-6 when Harris played at least 25 minutes, and 35-23 when he played at all.
The starting point guard spot is firmly in the hands of Kyle Lowry, but Harris would definitely be an upgrade over John Lucas in the second unit.
He has experience running an offense, and can defend the perimeter against multiple positions. He's a suspect three-point shooter (33.5 percent), and he's prone to turning the ball over, but Devin Harris is more of a sure thing than anyone currently backing up Lowry.
Jose Calderon, PG, Unrestricted Free Agent
Current team: Detroit Pistons
2012-13 statistics: 73 games played, 29.6 minutes, 11.3 points, 49.1% from the field, 46.1% from three-point range, 2.4 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.1 blocks, 18.80 PER
2012-13 salary: $11,046,591
There's no place like home.
Jose Calderon spent his first eight seasons in the league with the Toronto Raptors, up until being dealt to the Detroit Pistons in the Rudy Gay trade back in January.
No one could ever question Jose's love for the city of Toronto. He's one of the few players in franchise history that would have the ability to return to the team and be welcomed back with open arms from the fans.
The Raptors are in desperate need of a point guard with a pass-first mentality off the bench to counteract Kyle Lowry's scoring punch in the starting lineup. John Lucas loves to shoot, and Sebastian Telfair will more than likely depart in free agency, so Toronto's second unit could certainly use a guy like Jose, who's averaged over seven assists per game for his career.
If Calderon would be willing to accept a backup role (point guard controversy always surrounded Jose during his tenure in Toronto) and a little less money to return to a team that he holds near and dear to his heart, then the Raptors should jump on that opportunity and bring back 'numero ocho'.
Tiago Splitter, C, Unrestricted Free Agent
Current team: San Antonio Spurs
2012-13 statistics: 81 games played, 24.7 minutes, 10.3 points, 56% from the field, 6.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks, 1.2 turnovers, 18.72 PER
2012-13 salary: $3,944,000
When rookie Jonas Valanciunas was forced to miss some time due to injury during the regular season, the Raptors were forced to occasionally start Aaron Gray and the undersized Amir Johnson at the center position. For a team looking to make the playoffs, that simply won't suffice.
This team has enough wings to fill any bar in the Greater Toronto Area, so acquiring more depth for the frontcourt should be near the top of the Raptors laundry list of things to do this summer.
Tiago Splitter is slowly but surely losing the stigma that ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith has inflicted upon him with his numerous sarcastic remarks on First Take. He played an important role in the San Antonio Spurs success during the year, averaging career-highs in points, minutes played and rebounds. In 58 starts, Splitter averaged 10.8 points and 7.0 rebounds in 27.2 minutes per game.
A healthy and emerging Valanciunas would still see a bulk of the minutes at the 5-spot as he continues to grow and improve his game, but Toronto could do a heck of a lot worse for a backup to their promising young star than Tiago. The Raptors need more size, and Splitter can provide that and then some.
The expectations would be low, but the potential output for a backup center and spot starter that Splitter could provide for this team make it worth taking a look at the 7-foot Brazilian.
Carl Landry, PF, Unrestricted Free Agent (Player Option)
Current team: Golden State Warriors
2012-13 statistics: 81 games played, 23.2 minutes, 10.8 points, 54% from the field, 6.0 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.4 blocks, 1.4 turnovers, 17.60 PER
2012-13 salary: $4,000,000
This isn't the first time Carl Landry's name has been floated around as a potential target of the Toronto Raptors. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports reported in his weekly NBA Power Rankings back in March that Toronto could make a run at Landry this summer, if he opts out of his deal with the Warriors.
Carl, who will be 30 years old by the start of next season, would immediately be considered a veteran on this roster, The Raptors current frontcourt (Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray, Andrea Bargnani, Jonas Valanciunas and Quincy Acy) average out at an age of 24.
He's a workhorse, which is exactly the type of player head coach Dwane Casey loves. He doesn't do one thing exceptionally well, but the effort you get from him on a nightly basis can sometimes overshadow any deficiencies he has out on the court, which includes his questionable defense.
Throughout his six-year NBA career, Landry has averages of 11.9 points and 5.3 rebounds. His per-36 minute averages hover around the 17 points and eight rebounds per game mark. Toronto could always use more rebounding, having finished third-worst in the NBA this past season at 40.2 a night.
Youth is always a plus in the NBA, but sometimes you need those older, battle-tested, playoff-savvy veterans who can step in and be a leader for your young players. Carl Landry fits that bill to a tee.