Most Intriguing Free Agents Toronto Raptors Can Sign with Mid-Level Exception

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Most Intriguing Free Agents Toronto Raptors Can Sign with Mid-Level Exception
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With no upcoming picks in the 2013 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors will look towards free agency and possibly using their full mid-level exception (MLE) to acquire some offseason talent.

The full MLE will only come into play if the Raptors can get under the tax threshold enough to use it. The last thing this team needs is to go deeper into the luxury tax.

The Raptors have $72,951,259 in total committed salaries for next season. That number would drop to approximately $71.4 million if they decline John Lucas' team option. If they decide to amnesty Linas Kleiza ($4,600,000 in 2013-14), that number would drop even further to approximately $67 million. 

The full MLE would start at $5.15 million and go upwards of four years. If it were used, it would bring the team close to the tax line once again. 

It's not an ideal situation, but it's the price the Raptors must pay to improve the roster in a summer void of draft picks and major cap space. 

The MLE can be split to acquire multiple players, but $5.15 million isn't a lot of money to begin with. Any players signed with the exception will likely fill a specific need of the team in a small role, rather than seeing any significant playing time in the rotation.

This roster is fairly solid at the wing positions (Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross, Landry Fields), so signing a veteran big, a three-point specialist or a backup point guard for Kyle Lowry would be the way to go. 

*All statistics and salary information provided by Yahoo! Sports, NBA.com, Hoops World and BasketballReference.com. 

 

Jason Maxiell, F, Detroit Pistons

2012-13 statistics: 72 games played, 24.8 minutes, 6.9 points, 44.6 percent from the field, 5.7 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.3 blocks, 1.1 turnovers, 11.30 PER

2012-13 salary: $5,000,000

The Detroit Pistons no longer have a need for Jason Maxiell.

The emergence of Andre Drummond and Kyle Singler in the rotation has made Maxiell completely expendable to Detroit. 

He's not going to command a lot of money on the open market, since he's basically hit his peak as a basketball player. He's never averaged more than 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds for a season in his career.

That doesn't mean that he can't bring value in a potential move to Toronto. In a perfect world, Maxiel wouldn't take up the entire MLE. He could realistically be acquired on the cheap if need be.

He's an underrated post defender who can block shots, box out, bang down low and grab rebounds. 

Maxiell earned himself a reputation in Detroit for being a great locker room guy. He was well liked and respected by all of his teammates for the effort he put forth on a daily basis. 

This young Raptors team could certainly use the veteran leadership and disciplined work ethic that a Maxiell would provide. 


Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Collison, PG, Dallas Mavericks

2012-13 statistics: 81 games played, 29.3 minutes, 12.0 points, 47.1 percent from the field, 2.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.1 blocks, 2.1 turnovers, 16.37 PER

2012-13 salary: $2,319,344

Collison's ceiling in the NBA is that of an above-average backup point guard. He showed during his one-year stint with the Mavericks that he's too inconsistent to be trusted as a full-time starter. He struggled running the offense and was sloppy with the basketball, having led all players in the league that averaged less than 30 minutes per game in turnovers (2.1). 

Being benched in favor of veterans Derek Fisher and Mike James is proof of that in itself. He never had the full confidence of the coaching staff. 

As a restricted free agent, the Mavericks can match any offer that comes his way, but it's hard to say whether or not they believe he has a future with the organization.

If the Raptors could somehow lure Collison away from Dallas, convince him to be the primary backup to Lowry and sign him with a potential full MLE, they would be better off because of it. 

There are very few point guards in the NBA that possess the speed and quickness that Collison has. Sure, he can sometimes be erratic with the ball, but against opposing teams' second units, he would have less pressure on his shoulders and could play more care-free. 

He's still very young (25), so the potential is certainly there for him to grow and develop his basic skills as a point guard.

Collison would mesh well with the young nucleus the Raptors have. The transition would be seamless. 

 

USA TODAY Sports

Chase Budinger, F, Minnesota Timberwolves

2012-13 statistics: 23 games played, 22.1 minutes, 9.4 points, 41.4 percent from the field, 3.1 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.3 blocks, 1.0 turnovers, 12.66 PER

2012-13 salary: $885,120

After missing a majority of the season with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, Chase Budinger will look to return to form in 2013-14, whether it is with the Timberwolves or another team entirely. 

Budinger is a career 35.8 percent three-point shooter, which is an area the Raptors need some assistance in after finishing 24th in the league.

His best shooting year came back in 2011-12 with the Houston Rockets when he averaged 40.2 percent from behind the arc.

While he's known for his prolific shooting touch, Budinger can put the ball on the floor and attack the basket with his tremendous length and agility. 

A pay raise from his veteran's minimum deal is to be expected, although the Raptors should be able to offer the 6'7" forward a decent enough contract to perhaps steer him away from Minnesota. 

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