The Toronto Raptors have emerged as arguably the biggest surprise package of the 2019-20 season. Despite being the defending champs, not many expected them to be this good this term, especially considering the fact that they lost their best player, reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, over the summer. Nevertheless, the Raptors are comfortably sitting at the second spot in the East with a highly impressive 46-18 record.
Let’s be honest, though. The Raptors still aren’t considered as a strong contender for the title this year. They’re a very good team, but it seems that they lack that one player that can take them over the edge. This is why general manager Masai Ujiri will need to work his magic again in the upcoming offseason and possibly bring in a new superstar to his squad.
Below we have three options the Raptors can look at during the upcoming offseason. Unfortunately for them, the Raptors don’t have too much assets in their disposal, so Ujiri will need to pull out all the stops to land either one of these guys. The good news for him is that all three superstars below might just be on the trading block, which boosts Toronto’s chances significantly.
To be clear, the Washington Wizards recently reaffirmed their intention to keep Bradley Beal for at least the next season. However, being that trade rumors have practically hounded the All-Star two-guard for majority of his career, it would not be impossible to think that this is the offseason that he finally parts ways with Washington.
Toronto will want to sign Fred VanVleet to an extension in the offseason. They need to hand over the reigns to him, which means that any potential trade deal will likely involve Kyle Lowry. A VanVleet and Beal backcourt pairing does sound rather remarkable. A bona fide All-Star at the two spot appear to be what the Raptors need to propel this team into contender status, and Beal certainly fits that mold.
A core of VanVleet, Beal, and Pascal Siakam means that the Raptors are going to be set for the next two to four years, at least.
Another superstar that might be looking for a change of scenery in the offseason is Joel Embiid. The 7-foot big man has had some issues with the Philadelphia 76ers faithful of late, and another disappointing playoff run this season might just spell the end of the Embiid-Ben Simmons era in Philly. The Process has not been able to deliver as promised, thus far, and as it seems, time is running out.
For the Raptors, both Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are going to be free agents in the offseason. They could very well let both guys walk (or maybe even do some sort of sign-and-trade deal), and hand over the starting job to Embiid. After all, the Cameroon international is definitely an upgrade compared to either Gasol or Ibaka.
Just imagine a frontcourt pairing of Embiid and Siakam. With Embiid requiring the defense to collapse on him down low, Siakam will have more room to operate. This fearsome pairing has the capacity to strike fear in any opposing team, and this is the type of frontcourt that could actually lead a team to a championship.
If the Milwaukee Bucks somehow fail to sign reigning Most Valuable Player winner Giannis Antetokounmpo to an extension this offseason, then it will set off an extremely loud alarm throughout the league. Virtually every team in the NBA will do their bit to try and trade for Giannis, and rightfully so. For their part, the Raptors must join in on the sweepstakes.
Again, we’re not sure what kind of package Ujiri can conjure up to entice the Bucks into doing a deal with them, but we have certainly seen crazier things in the past. At the end of the day, this might potentially boil down to Antetokounmpo’s preferred destination, and Toronto might just have a say in that. After all, one of the things that stood out in their 2019 championship-run was that they have one of the best set of fans in the entire NBA, and we can certainly picture the Raptors faithful fully embracing Giannis like they did Kawhi last season. We can’t see how Antetokounmpo is not going to like the idea of the same.
If the Raptors are able to keep Siakam and pair him with Giannis, then they could form the top dynamic duo in the East. The length and versatility of this pair will be insane, and odds are, this will position Toronto as one of the favorites to win the 2021 championship.