5 Best Value Free Agents for Toronto Raptors to Pursue in 2015 NBA Free Agency
With the NBA salary cap set to soar to nearly $90 million for the 2016-17 season, teams are beginning to take those numbers into account when handing out offers to players this summer, throwing senseless amounts of money at whoever is available.
Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri played into that trend, recently agreeing to a four-year, $60 million deal with former Atlanta Hawks swingman DeMarre Carroll, Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
The enormous cap is a luxury every team will soon be afforded, so there's really no reason to not embrace it for what it is. You can't complain about a specific player being overpaid because that's going to be the case for everyone.
Carroll ($15 million) will be the highest-paid player on the Raptors next year, making much more than All-Stars Kyle Lowry ($12 million) and DeMar DeRozan ($9.5 million). It may be difficult to comprehend, but salaries like Carroll's will become the norm among players of his likeness in the coming years.
Ujiri had the money and spent it wisely on a player who filled a pressing need, which is a three-and-D wing who can bring a certain level of toughness to the role.
The Raptors still need some added depth in their frontcourt with four of their bigs hitting unrestricted free agency. Former starter Amir Johnson agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Boston Celtics, per Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. A third point guard would also be welcome after Greivis Vasquez was sent packing to the Milwaukee Bucks on draft night.
There are plenty of under-the-radar players Ujiri can contact to shore up depth on his roster. They wouldn't be groundbreaking signings like Carroll's was, but they can help make the Raptors a better overall team, which is all that really matters.
Cory Joseph, PG
It wouldn't be lost on Ujiri that Cory Joseph was born in Canada, which adds a little more incentive to signing a player who has gotten better each season he's been in the league.
The "We The North" movement would eat up the fact that he's one of its own, although there's more to acquiring Joseph than just a marketing ploy.
His numbers don't jump out at you, if only because he was far down the pecking order on the ever-so-deep San Antonio Spurs.
Perhaps head coach Gregg Popovich should have found more minutes for his backup point guard, as the Spurs allowed 103.3 points per 100 possessions when he was on the sidelines and just 100.5 when he hit the hardwood, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
He stepped up to the plate when Tony Parker missed some games near the start of the season, averaging 13.8 points and 3.9 assists from Dec. 25 to Jan. 10. When duty calls, Joseph knows how to rise to the occasion and make his presence felt.
San Antonio extended a qualifying offer to the 23-year-old, making him a restricted free agent, reports Basketball Insiders' Eric Pincus. That makes things a bit more complicated, but with the Spurs vying for the services of LaMarcus Aldridge, perhaps they'll avoid diving into any unnecessary deals for the time being.
The Raptors took Delon Wright out of the University of Utah 20th overall in this year's draft, making him the only other point guard on the roster to play behind Lowry following the Vasquez trade. Moving him down the depth chart and bringing on a more proven commodity in Joseph should aid in Wright's development, which may include a trip to the D-League to suit up for the Raptors 905.
Tyler Hansbrough, PF
Ujiri doesn't need to demolish the roster and remove every piece that was a part of that nightmarish four-game postseason sweep at the hands of the Washington Wizards. Tyler Hansbrough is one body he should think twice about before kicking to the curb completely.
Psycho-T wound up starting the opening two games of the Wizards series, although he shrivelled up like a prune under the bright lights of the playoffs, scoring four points and failing to grab a single rebound. His poor performance wasn't entirely his fault, though, as he shouldn't have been out there as a starter in the first place.
Hansbrough is the definition of what a backup 4 needs to be: a change-of-pace forward who hustles for loose boards, crashes the glass and isn't afraid to lock horns under the basket.
His 3.6 points and 3.6 rebounds were the lowest of his career, but his field-goal percentage was the highest it's ever been at 52.1. His "Psycho-3" didn't become a mainstay like it was in the preseason, but kudos to Hansbrough for at least trying to add a new element to his game.
There were never any signs that anyone within the organization had a problem with Hansbrough or a negative thing to say. He always did what he was told, even if it meant biting his tongue and waiting his turn on the pine.
Ujiri can do a lot worse for his fourth or fifth big on the team.
Bismack Biyombo, C
Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer first reported that the Raptors may have their eyes set on unrestricted free agent Bismack Biyombo, who had his $5.2 million qualifying offer declined by the Charlotte Hornets.
Go ahead and call Biyombo's offensive repertoire Santa Claus, because no one has ever seen the real thing despite it supposedly showing up once a year.
"Defensive acumen aside, Biz continues to be invisible on offense," wrote Bleacher Report's Justin Hussong about Biyombo's lack of scoring prowess. "He has never shown more than brief glimpses of respectability. His rate of attempted jumpers has declined during each of his four seasons in the NBA, indicating an unwillingness to expand his game."
Any team putting money on the table to obtain his services is doing so because of his defense and rebounding—that's it.
The Congo native had per-36 minute averages of 8.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks last season. Opponents shot just 49.1 percent at the rim against the 6'9" center and his 7'6" wingspan, although that number fell from the 39.1 percent opponents mustered up the year prior.
Greg Stiemsma and Chuck Hayes aren't likely to return for another run with the Raptors, leaving a void on the depth chart behind regular starter Jonas Valanciunas. Head coach Dwane Casey enjoys playing 4s at the 5 spot, but that doesn't mean there shouldn't be at least one other true-blue center to have as insurance should Valanciunas get hurt.
Playing Biyombo 10 minutes a night so he can put up a fight in the paint area can work. He'll never command any touches and can be a difference-maker defensively, if only in spurts.
Derrick Williams, SF
No. 2 overall draft picks don't have the pizzazz and star power you probably think they would, as only three players selected at that spot since 2000 (Tyson Chandler, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kevin Durant) have gone on to be named NBA All-Stars.
Derrick Williams, who was chosen by the Minnesota Timberwolves out of the University of Arizona in 2011, will likely forever be looked down upon as a bust, although he's still young enough to turn things around should he find a new home.
The 2011 draft is well-represented in the league today, with high-profile names like Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler emerging as some of the NBA's best and brightest talents. Williams is nowhere near that caliber of a player, but that doesn't make him entirely useless as a contributor, either.
He's large enough at 6'8" and 240 pounds to maintain position against natural power forwards in the post, but he's mobile enough to step out on the perimeter and defend small forwards, as well.
In 74 outings for the Sacramento Kings last season, Williams averaged 8.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in 19.8 minutes, shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 31.4 percent from three-point range. He's not a terribly efficient shooter, but he can knock down the occasional bucket from distance.
Even at a fair price, rolling with Williams would be quite the gamble on Ujiri's part. Perhaps playing in Toronto is the change of scenery he needs.
In a backup role with little to no burden to shoulder on a winning team, something may finally start clicking in his head, turning him into a valuable piece the Raptors can be proud to have on their roster.
James Johnson always seems to be in Casey's doghouse, while Terrence Ross has been a model of inconsistency since entering the league. There's room for a new face at the position to snag some playing time, with $5-to-7 million per season being a reasonable offer for Williams to come to Toronto.
Ed Davis, PF
A large group of Raptors fans have an unhealthy obsession with wanting Ed Davis back in uniform north of the border.
The 26-year-old was selected 13th overall by the franchise during the 2010 NBA draft, playing three full seasons with the team before being dealt to the Memphis Grizzlies in 2013 via a three-team trade that brought Rudy Gay to Toronto.
His minutes gradually decreased as the years wore on, finishing up his tenure with the Raptors averaging 7.7 points and 6.6 rebounds in 176 appearances. Davis didn't put up spectacular numbers, but he did enough in a limited role to leave the fanbase wanting more.
Davis recently declined his player option with the Los Angeles Lakers after signing with the team last summer, turning down the $1.1 million he would have been owed. That's chump change considering the financial landscape the league is now in, so it was wise on Davis' part to enter unrestricted free agency and look to get paid—even though that's not his No. 1 priority.
"I'm not out here to chase money," said Davis to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News back in April. "I just want to be in a great situation."
He's not going to sell himself short, though, as Davis would like somewhere in the ballpark of $7-to-10 million per season.
Davis was one of the few bright spots on what was an otherwise abysmal 21-61 Lakers squad, putting up career highs of 8.3 points and 7.6 rebounds on 60.1 percent shooting—which would have qualified for second best in the NBA had he hit 18 more shots.
He won't stretch the floor, which is something Casey loves for his bigs to do, but Davis is well-equipped to finish around the rim and be physical on the defensive end.
He could realistically start opening night at power forward if Casey wants to roll with a large lineup.
Hopefully, the second time's the charm.
Christopher Walder is a featured columnist for the Toronto Raptors at Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter at @WalderSports.