Despite a 59-win season and earning the one-seed in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors 2017-18 season once again ended in disappointment. The Raptors were swept out of the playoffs by the LeBron James-led Cavs. After parting ways with NBCA Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, the Raptors head into free agency with a new head coach, Nick Nurse, who was elevated to the position from his assistant role within the organization.
As of now, the Raptors head into the offseason with a core that should be able to earn a high seed in the Eastern Conference again. Here is the team’s projected roster and starting lineup heading into free agency.
Raptors Roster & Projected Starting Lineup for 2018
PG- Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet (RFA)
SG- DeMar DeRozan, Delon Wright, Lorenzo Brown (UFA)
SF- Ogugua Anunoby, C.J. Miles, Norman Powell, Malcolm Miller, Alfonzo McKinnie, Malachi Richardson
PF- Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam
C- Jonas Valancuiunas, Jakob Poeltl, Lucas Nogueira (RFA)
UFA = unrestricted free agent, RFA = restricted free agent, PO = player option
Of the Raptors’ free agents, only VanVleet is a consistent contributor as Lowry’s backup point guard. Since VanVleet is a restricted free agent, the Raptors will be able to match any offer he receives from another team.
The Raptors could bring back the entire rotation and be in good shape, but it’s possible the club goes in an entirely different direction. According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, “no one on Toronto’s roster is off limits,” as the front office has eyes on getting a top-10 pick in order to draft Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. That would seem to include the Raptors star backcourt, Lowry and DeRozan. Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune said Lowry is “very available.”
If the Raptors want to bring in young talent, trading veterans will probably be the only way. The Raptors do not currently have a draft pick.
Raptors Projected Cap Space: ($43,194,987)
According to Real GM projections, the Raptors will be more than $43 million over the projected $101 million salary cap. Even if they do not re-sign their free agents, they will still be more than $26 million above the cap. So unless the Raptors make significant trades, they have very little wiggle room to acquire new players.
One option, however, would be the mid-level exception. As outlined by Sportsnet, the Raptors can offer a $5.3 million contract to a new player if they remain under the projected tax apron of $129,060,000. Remaining under that, though, would mean not re-signing VanVleet.