Assuming the new collective bargaining agreement is ratified, training camps and free agency are set to begin on December 9th. Along with the season tipping off December 25th, that leaves only 16 days for teams to sign free agents and get ready for the upcoming season.
The current free agent class doesn’t have very many big names. That could change once teams begin using the amnesty clause. Despite that, here are some talented players that will get big paydays, none of which are likely to end up in Toronto.
The Raptors have two glaring needs. The team needs another big man, either to start at centre or to back up Andrea Bargnani and Amir Johnson. Toronto also needs another swingman, as Linas Kleiza is still recovering from knee surgery, and Sonny Weems signed with a Lithuanian team and his contract doesn’t have an out clause for when the NBA season starts.
The salary cap is expected to stay at approximately $58 million, the same as the 2010-11 season. Toronto has about $45 million in committed salary for next year, plus a $2.9 cap hold for first-round pick Jonas Valanciunas. That means, if the team renounces the rights to all of their free agents, Toronto will have about $10 million in cap space, plus the newly-created $2.5 million exception, when signing free agents.
There are a number of centre prospects available, including Tyson Chandler, Marc Gasol, Nene, DeAndre Jordan and Samuel Dalembert. However, I can’t imagine any of these players ending up in a Raptor uniform for a number of reasons.
If the Raptors are not going to add any big-name, high-profile players, then who is left? The five players here are not necessarily well known, but would help the team and could turn into quality rotation players.