Toronto Raptors Keep Rounding Out Roster In Free Agency

Above: The Toronto Raptors made a splash signing 28-year-old forward DeMarre Carroll to a four-year, $60M deal
Above: The Toronto Raptors made a splash signing 28-year-old forward DeMarre Carroll to a four-year, $60M deal

San Antonio and Cleveland have been the biggest winners so far during the NBA Free Agency period, but with a series of deft moves, the Toronto Raptors have been able to bolster their lineup without the kind of overspending that normally highlights this time of year in The Association.

Toronto made a splash on the opening day of free agency, snagging arguably the top “3 and D” man available, DeMarre Carroll, ex of the Atlanta Hawks. While a four-year, $60M deal for a soon-to-be 29-year-old wingman isn’t exactly “chump change,” Carroll fits the defensive system coach Dwane Casey wants to employ and has an underrated offensive game that should mesh well with the rest of Toronto’s core next season.

Saturday, while the Sacramento Kings handed out a four-year, $33M deal with 28-year-old backup center Kosta Koufos, Toronto inked 22-year-old former Top 10 pick Bismack Biyombo to a tidy two-year, six-million-dollar. In just under 20 minutes per game last season with Charlotte, the native of the Democratic Republic of Congo averaged 4.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

While he’s never blossomed into the front-line center Charlotte hoped he would be when the acquired the seventh-overall pick in the 2011 draft from the Kings on draft night, Biyombo becomes a low risk, high reward back-up option to Jonas Valanciunas for Toronto. He’s a willing rebounder and legitimate rim protector when he’s on the court and any production the Raptors get above his career averages next season will be a bonus.

Then on Sunday, Toronto added to its offseason haul by inking hometown point guard Cory Joseph to a four-year, $30M deal. The Pickering, Ontario native played his first four seasons in San Antonio, earning a ring with the Spurs in 2014 while serving as a backup to Tony Parker. Joseph averaged career highs across the board last year with the defending champs, playing 18 minutes a night and starting 14 games while contributing 6.8 points, 2 rebounds and 2 assists per contest.

More than serving as a nice homecoming story and Joseph becoming the second Canadian to suit up for the Raptors, the University of Texas product becomes a steady back-up to All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who wore down at times last season as he logged heavy minutes. In fact, there is the potential for Joseph to be the heir apparent to the starting point guard spot with the Raptors, as he turns 24 later this summer and will just be entering his prime when the four-year deal Lowry inked last summer expires.

While several teams have struck out so far this offseason, swinging for the fences and failing to even make contact, Toronto has done a good job of adding quality pieces at reasonable prices to a strong core. After losing Amir Johnson to the Boston Celtics, the team still needs to find a starting small forward, though a “small ball” lineup with Carroll at the four could be something Toronto wants to look at next season.

Either way, this year’s free agency period has already been a success for the Dinos and there is still money in the bank account, room under the cap and tinkering to be done.

Keep watching – something tells me Masai Uriji isn’t quite done yet.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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