It was a wild end to the 2019-20 season for the Toronto Raptors, but their grip on the NBA Championship was finally gone after a game seven defeat to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals. It was a stunning show of mentality from Nick Nurse’s side that they were still in contention with a minute left to play against the impressive Celtics, especially since the Raptors were nowhere near their best throughout the series.
Regardless, this Toronto side has still allowed fans to dream that the first franchise title in 2019 could be repeated, even without Kawhi Leonard. But, the Raptors will be heading into the off-season with an awful lot of questions to answer if they are to get among the front-runners in the odds for the NBA Championship with ussportsbonus.com. These are three factors that the Raptors must address.
Fred VanVleet’s Contract
The most important situation that the Raptors must address this post-season is the long-term future of Fred VanVleet. The 26-year-old will be eligible in the free agency market in October, and the Raptors can’t afford to lose a player that looks tailor-made to fill the void left by Kyle Lowry when the Raptors legend moves on. Toronto will be keen not to overpay, but they will be sure to give VanVleet a contract that sees off any competition.
VanVleet is coming off the back of his best season to date, as he averaged 17.6 points per game and 3.8 rebounds per game. Both of those stats are improvements on his career-best averages prior to last season. Raptors fans know how important VanVleet is for the future, and one restaurant has even offered him free food for life in order to tempt him to stay.
The Centre Issue
VanVleet isn’t the only starting Raptor will an expiring contract, with both Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol’s contracts running out in October. This presents a huge dilemma for the Raptors, as they will not want to lose both centres that they have on the roster. Add to that the dilemma that the Raptors are trying to keep room in the salary cap to make a move for Giannis next year.
But, Masai Ujiri has constantly risen to the big occasion when it comes to working his way around the budget. However, it’s likely that the Raptors will need to choose one. Ibaka enjoyed an excellent 2019-20 season, as he averaged 15.4 points per game, while Gasol suffered with injuries throughout the campaign and average just 7.5 points per game.
OG Anunoby has been one of the stars of the season for the Toronto Raptors, and they will be able to sign him to an extension this autumn as he has one year remaining on his rookie deal. The biggest pro for doing this would mean that no other franchise will be able to tempt the Brit into moving away from the Raptors when he becomes a free agent next year.
However, waiting could mean that the Raptors have more money for the off-season in 2021. It is a tricky call, as Anunoby’s numbers last year demonstrated that he is a player that any side in the NBA would be lucky to have. His ability to score from beyond the arc is a factor that will be taken into consideration, as he scored 39% of his efforts last season. The biggest of those came in the semi-final series against the Boston Celtics, which kept the Raptors alive in the series.