Toronto Raptors: 5 Cheap Free Agent Targets
The Toronto Raptors have plenty of cap space saved up for this NBA offseason's free agent class. It's still a widely debated topic as to whether Toronto should go all out and add major free agent pieces or if they should continue rebuilding the "traditional" way instead.
Regardless of their game plan, Toronto, like every other team, will need a solid bench if they plan on going anywhere. The team already has a some very good role players, but with the departure of Sonny Weems, and possibly Reggie Evans, Toronto should go bargain hunting for role players in this free agency.
The following slideshow will show five free agents who could totally be worth their (possibly small) contracts .
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Jonas Jerebko sat out the entire 2010-2011 season due to a ruptured right Achilles tendon. The 24-year-old had a solid rookie campaign where he started in 73 games for the Pistons and averaged 9.3 points, 5.9 rebounds and a steal while playing 27.9 minutes per game.
Jerebko is an athletic, hustle player who could be a very solid player in the league despite being overlooked by many teams in the 2009 draft. Jerebko has only played one season in the league and was productive from the get-go; because he's a few years older than most sophomores his body is more NBA-ready than others.
From the outside Jerebko might look like another soft European, but he's actually the opposite. Jerebko is very athletic and while he needs to continue to add weight before guarding bigger post players, he is still very good at guarding 3's.
Jerebko is capable of shooting the long ball and crashing the boards, and he could even turn out to be Toronto's starting small forward if he is signed this offseason. Jerebko's energy, length and hustle on the defensive end would make him a perfect fit for Toronto. Jerebko is from Sweden and could find Toronto an attractive city to play in like other European players have.
The Detroit Pistons want to keep Jerebko and extended a qualifying offer of around $1 million to him in June. This will be a priority for the Pistons especially since there's the possibility of Tayshaun Prince leaving the team. If they do manage to retain Prince, they will hesitate to resign Jerebko for over $2 million since Austin Daye and Kyle Singler will eat up most of the bench minutes available.
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Reggie Williams is another sophomore who has received little attention since first coming into the league despite proving to be a very potent offensive option for the Warriors.
Williams is a 6'6" shooting guard/small forward who averaged 15.2 points per game in his rookie season and 9.2 points per game in only 20.3 minutes a game coming off the bench for the Warriors last season.
At age 25, Williams doesn't have a very high ceiling, but many overlook his already-polished offensive game. Williams can still get better by working on his body, and playing under a defensive-minded coach would really help him progress on that side of the ball.
The Raptors were dead last in three-point scoring last season, and the acquisition of Williams would help them in that department (42 percent three-point shooter). If Williams doesn't start every game he will be a valuable sixth man for Toronto, but if he does crack the starting lineup it's very possible that Williams will flourish as a top three scoring option for the Raps.
The Warriors extended a qualifying offer to Williams earlier this year but could choose to give his minutes to Klay Thompson and Al Thornton if the Raptors offer over $2 to $3 million to him.
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Delonte West is a very skilled basketball player whose value has been hurt due to his personality and off-court baggage. West was considered to have great potential playing in Boston and in Cleveland, but he is now surviving as a role player.
West is a combo guard who plays stellar defense and also provides outside scoring help. Despite an injury-plagued season, West was still solid for the Celtics, averaging 5.6 points, 2.7 assists and 0.8 steals in only 18.9 minutes of play per game.
Last season West joined the stacked Boston Celtics in hopes to revive his image as a key player for a championship team. West was only paid $854,389, and while the Celtics would like for him to stay on the team, but the Raptors could offer him nearly double that amount and still call it a bargain.
Delonte West might not be the most law-abiding citizen, but his contributions off the bench could really outvalue the cost of obtaining him. As a fan it would be much more fun to see West working for the Raptors than working in Home Depot.
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Kwame Brown is best known as one of the greatest busts ever drafted in the NBA, but last season Brown helped his image while playing hard for the Bobcats.
The Bobcats signed Brown to a veteran's minimum deal last summer, but Brown was given the starting spot in the lineup after the team traded away Tyson Chandler to the Mavericks for Erick Dampier's expiring contract.
Kwame Brown was solid, averaging 7.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 0.6 blocks in only 26 minutes of playing time per game. Adjusted to 36 minutes Brown was good for 11 points, 9.4 rebounds and nearly one block per game. While those numbers aren't very special by any means, the league has seen a shortage of centers, and Brown could be a very economical option at the five slot.
The Raptors will probably target big-name free agents such as Marc Gasol and Tyson Chandler, but if they decide Jonas Valanciunas will be capable of holding his own in 2012-2013, the Raptors will only need a temporary solution at center, and Kwame Brown is the best "minimum" center available.
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Chuck Hayes might only be 6'6", but he played surprisingly well at center for the Rockets. Like Brown, Hayes will be the temporary solution at center if the team decides to wait for Valanciunas, but even if they sign a big-name center this offseason, the Raptors would love to have Hayes on the roster if they could sign him on the cheap.
Chuck Hayes played on an evolving Rockets team which lost Yao Ming and traded away the league's most improved player all in the same season. The Rockets struggled early on, but in the second half of the season they were solid and barely missed the playoffs. For the season Hayes averaged 7.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals despite averaging only 28.1 minutes per game. Hayes is a hard worker and underrated passer who manages to score and rebound over taller and more athletic big men.
Some argue that Hayes will receive a fairly big contract after proving he could hold his own, but teams will probably pursue the likes of Samuel Dalembert, Deandre Jordan or Kris Humphries before offering Hayes a significant amount. With a little bit of luck Toronto could sign Hayes to around $2 to 3 million, and they'll have a legitimate backup center for years to come.