The Toronto Raptors struggled in their first season without Chris Bosh. They did show flashes of what they could become with some development and maturity, but defense has been a major weakness for this team over the past several years.
The hiring of former Dallas Mavericks assistant Dwayne Casey as head coach was a step in the right direction, as his defensive strategies helped the Mavericks win the championship last season.
But the Raptors don't have a defensive-minded center he can put in the Tyson Chandler role like he did with the Mavericks last season. Andrea Bargnani played center for the Raptors last season and Amir Johnson and Ed Davis are promising young forwards, but neither are the dominant defensive presence that a player like Chandler is.
With some promising young talent and a familiar coach, why not try and convince Chandler to jump ship and sign with the Raptors?
Chandler is coming off of a strong season in which he won his first championship ring and gave the Mavericks a new defensive identity, but he has not indicated that he will resign with the Mavs next season. Should he choose to test the free agent market, the Raptors will likely strongly pursue him.
Signing Chandler would give the Raptors an excellent defensive anchor in the paint and relieve some of the rebounding burden off of Bargnani, who is not a strong rebounder. His presence will also aid in the development of Davis and Johnson as strong post defenders. He would also allow Bargnani to focus on what he does best: scoring.
Would signing Tyson Chandler push the Raptors into the playoffs?
With Chandler anchoring the defense in the paint, he would also help the rest of the Raptors players improve on defense as well. Chandler could form a dangerous duo with point guard Jose Calderon, who is an excellent passer. He would provide a legitimate post option for the Raptors until center Jonas Valanciunas comes over from Europe in a couple of years.
The Raptors would probably sign him to a two- or three-year contract until Valanciunas joins the team. They would likely have to overspend a bit to pry him away from Dallas, but the potential reward would probably justify the extra spending. The Raptors have plenty of cap space and can afford to pay him what he wants for a couple of seasons as the team continues to improve.
The signing of Chandler could push the Raptors into the playoffs for the first time since 2008. DeMar DeRozan is on the verge of becoming a star, and the Raptors would become a much more complete team with Chandler on the roster.
Jerryd Bayless was excellent as a starter last season and James Johnson played some of the best perimeter defense the Raptors have seen in years. If Bayless and Barbosa can continue to provide a spark off the bench, this team could make some noise in the playoffs as early as next season.