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Toronto Raptors offseason: Five biggest questions

The Toronto Raptors face a vital offseason following their franchise-altering moves midway through the 2023/24 campaign.

The Raptors are a long way from competing for the title, as they head into the offseason with odds of +15000 to win next season’s championship.

With a key summer ahead, here are the five biggest questions facing the front office. 

What can the Raptors get for Bruce Brown?

When the Raptors failed to reroute Bruce Brown at the deadline, the optics around the Pascal Siakam trade got worse. Brown was key to the Denver Nuggets’ 2023 title, but his $22 million salary was hard to move.

The Raptors have a $23m team option on Brown for next year and reports suggest they’ll activate that and hope to flip him around the draft. However, there aren’t many good landing spots for him and the first-round pick they were asking for at the deadline never materialised. 

Getting a good return is vital, especially given the paltry return for Siakam plus Fred VanVleet’s departure for nothing in free agency a year ago.

For all his positives, Brown doesn’t add much to a Raptors side in a rebuild. He’s unlikely to be on the roster by opening night, but the front office can’t afford to lose him for nothing.

Where does Gary Trent Jr. go in free agency?

The Raptors’ other big unrestricted free agent is Gary Trent Jr. After a tepid 2022/23 season he activated his player option but no extension was agreed beyond that.

Trent Jr. has split opinion among fans but it would be asking a lot to elevate Gradey Dick into his starting role. Adding a perimeter specialist would be costly in free agency and this isn’t a deep free-agent class.

Unfortunately for Toronto, that means Trent Jr. could have a few suitors. If the Raptors aren’t willing to offer him years, the shooting guard may gamble on a shorter deal with a better team. The Orlando Magic are on the rise and could use any shooting they can find.

A short reunion with Nick Nurse in Philadelphia on the midlevel could also be an option to put him in the shop window.

Just like Bruce Brown, losing Trent Jr. for nothing would be a blow. 

Do the Raptors stick with Jakob Poeltl?

Arguably the biggest decision of the offseason revolves around center Jakob Poeltl. The deal for the Austrian just cost the Raptors the eighth pick in the draft and any outgoing deal would struggle to match that return.

Despite the negativity around the move for him, Poeltl has been a huge positive influence for the Raptors defensively. It’s very hard to tank with a player like that patrolling the paint, so keeping or trading Poeltl is a huge indicator of the Raptors’ short-term ambitions.

A Poeltl trade would net a decent return, potentially a lesser pick from the Oklahoma City Thunder's huge stash of first-rounders.

However, that would be a bad look for a front office which continues to be high on Poeltl’s impact, so keeping him and staying competitive is the likeliest outcome. 

How much will the new core cost?

One of the main reasons for trading Poeltl is that he doesn’t fit the timeline of the organization’s new core. Scottie Barnes, RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley are 23, 24 and 25 respectively and they are the future of the Raptors. 

Barrett is locked down for three years, while Quickley is a restricted free agent this summer. Scottie Barnes will be negotiating an extension to his rookie deal this summer too, meaning the core will soon be locked in.

Once Barnes’ new deal kicks in from the summer of 2025, the Raptors will likely be shelling out over $90 million to the trio. That’s a steep price for three players on a rebuilding side.

The cap flexibility that the Raptors have is going to be fleeting. Locking in Barnes and Quickley is the right thing to do, but it won’t be long until building out their supporting cast begins to get tricky. 

Where can the Raptors add defensive upgrades?

The Raptors desperately need some defensive-minded additions. They went from being a side full of switchable, tall forwards to having an undersized roster almost overnight.

The Raptors have high hopes for Ochai Agbaji, but defensive reinforcements are still needed. Unfortunately, there are limited routes for the team to pick them up.

The team has the 19th and 31st picks in the draft, but rookies rarely arrive in the league as accomplished defenders. There will be prospects, but they face a steep learning curve. 

This isn’t the point to trade for a 3-and-D wing, while the free agents which fit that bill were traded away by the Raptors earlier this year. 

Throughout the decade the Raptors have needed depth at point guard and adding one who can be an adept point-of-attack defender would fit two needs.

Bringing back Delon Wright would fit the bill, adding an experienced defender and a capable backup ball handler. 

Odds mentioned in this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.

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