The Toronto Raptors got off to a terrible start last season and wound up making a huge move. In early December, they dealt forward Rudy Gay along with big man Aaron Gray and forward Quincy Acy, to the Sacramento Kings for swingman John Salmons, point guard Greivis Vasquez, power forward Patrick Patterson and power forward Chuck Hayes. The Raptors won 41 of their final 62 games and won the Atlantic Division with a record of 48-34.
That’s why they decided to re-sign their three key free agents in the offseason. First they took care of their top priority, agreeing to re-sign starting point guard Kyle Lowry to a four-year, $48 million deal. They then turned their attention to Patterson, a restricted free agent. He agreed to a three-year, $18 million deal. After that, Vasquez got a two-year, $13 million deal.
Ben Golliver of our partner, Sports Illustrated, believes the Raptors had the most underrated offseason.
GM Masai Ujiri didn’t ink any contracts that made you go, “Whoa! What a fleecing!” but he did pound out a series of B/B+ moves that kept his rotation together while adding minor players around the edges. Because the Raptors lost in the first round, it’s easy to forget that they finished with the East’s third-best record last season. The two teams above them — Indiana and Miami — must deal with the departures of Lance Stephenson and LeBron James, respectively. Meanwhile, Toronto’s postseason foe, Brooklyn, is suddenly without Paul Pierce and Shaun Livingston (not to mention coach Jason Kidd). With so many teams falling back to the pack, the Raptors calmly treaded water by retaining Kyle Lowry, Patrick Patterson and Greivis Vasquez. The addition of Lou Williams has the potential to be an under-the-radar steal too.
With LeBron James leaving the Miami Heat to join the Cleveland Cavaliers and Lance Stephenson leaving the Indiana Pacers to sign with the Charlotte Hornets, the Raptors could make a lot of noise in a wide-open Eastern Conference.