With a couple of their own free agents still left to sign and not a whole lot of cap space to work with, Raptors fans will be looking for general manager Masai Ujiri to work some of his renowned front-office magic to keep the Raps on their current upward trend.
Toronto didn’t waste much time making a move just before free agency, as Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reported the Raptors have traded John Salmons to the Atlanta Hawks for Lou Williams and Lucas “Bebe” Nogueira.
Free agency officially begins July 1, and this move couldn’t have been more perfect for the Raptors. Instead of paying $7 million to a demising John Salmons, Ujiri was able to dump the rest of that salary and pick up two solid assets.
First there's Lou Williams, a combo guard who's proven he can be an effective scorer in the league. And then there's Nogueira, an intriguing, former first-round center who could have a good connection with 2014 selection Bruno Cabuclo, a fellow Brazilian.
As long as Williams stays healthy, he should prove to be a very good backup option at the 1 or the 2, especially if either Kyle Lowry or Greivis Vasquez chooses to leave. Nogueira is still young and raw but could be a very interesting development project.
Once the Salmons trade is made official, the Raptors should have about $16 million in cap space to work with.
Toronto’s top priority is to sign unrestricted free-agent and heart-of-the-team Kyle Lowry. Since the Raps own Lowry’s Bird rights, they should be able to offer him as much money as necessary to keep him without going into the luxury tax.
After Lowry, Ujiri would ideally love to bring back restricted free agents Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez and Nando de Colo. The team has extended qualifying offers to each of them; however, Vasquez and Patterson will more than likely be searching for long-term deals that the Raps should still be able to oblige.
All in all, Toronto doesn’t have a ton of wiggle room to go after free agents, but with a couple of needs still waiting to be addressed (such as a backup center and a perimeter defender), Ujiri should be able to do some bargain hunting and find some help for cheap prices.
Of course this is all assuming that all of Toronto’s free agents re-sign; obviously if one or more of them decide to walk, then the Raps will have more room to work with in free agency.
Either way, let’s take a quick look at the top targets the Toronto Raptors should be considering in free agency.