Raps keep Lowry, still have more work


VIDEO: Free Agency: Lowry Remains a Raptor

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – The Toronto Raptors have taken care of the important business, agreeing to terms with Kyle Lowry on a new four-year, $48 million contract. After winning their division for the second time in franchise history and returning to the postseason after a five-year absence, they’re bringing back their best player. Lowry is a bulldog on both ends of the floor, and if he wasn’t the best point guard in the Eastern Conference last season, he was right there with John Wall.

The Raptors had one the conference’s best benches as well. Greivis Vasquez and Patrick Patterson arrived in the Rudy Gay trade in December and made big impacts. Patterson spaced the floor at the power forward position, while Vasquez’s passing was infectious. Toronto recorded assists on just 49 percent of its baskets before the trade and 60 percent after it.

The numbers spell out how important Patterson and Vasquez are. They had the two best on-court NetRtg marks on the team, with the Raptors outscoring their opponents by 9.9 points per 100 possessions with Patterson on the floor and by 8.5 with Vasquez on the floor. In the playoffs, Toronto outscored Brooklyn by 53 points with Vasquez on the floor and was outscored by 64 with him on the bench. Patterson was a plus-30.  As it was in the regular season, they were at their best with those two guys on the floor.

If the Raptors want to build on last season’s success, they need to keep the bench together. If Lou Williams (acquired in a trade for John Salmons) is healthy, it could be even better than it was last season.

On Friday, Toronto reportedly agreed to terms with Patterson, a restricted free agent, on a three-year, $18 million contract. That’s Step 2.

Vasquez is another restricted free agent, meaning the Raptors can match any offer sheet he receives from another team. But with the new contracts for Lowry and Patterson, the addition of Williams, and the possibility of adding rookies Bruno Caboclo and Lucas Nogueira, Toronto is approaching the luxury tax line. And they want to make one more move.

After Joe Johnson beat them up in that playoff series, the Raps acknowledged that they need more size on the wing. Even if Caboclo is less than “two years away from being two years away,” that size would have to come in free agency, perhaps from an Al-Farouq AminuAlan Anderson, Jordan Hamilton or Richard Jefferson. The Raptors have the mid-level exception (or a portion of it) to spend on an outside free agent.

Adding one of those guys, keeping Vasquez, and staying under the tax line will be a challenge. If Darren Collison can get the full mid-level exception (from Vasquez’s former team) in Sacramento, Vasquez should surely be worth that much. Complicating matters is that Toronto is already paying small forwards Landry Fields and Steve Novak almost $10 million to ride the pine.

Back in January, SportsNet’s Michael Grange reported that the Raptors would be willing to go over the line “at the right time.” But if they bring everybody back, they’re still a team that lost in the first round.  Even if they add a piece, they still have a ceiling, especially if LeBron James remains in Miami. And if Jonas Valanciunas gets a lucrative contract extension next summer, it will overlap with the last two seasons of Lowry’s deal (and the last of DeMar DeRozan‘s), which may be the time to think about paying the tax.

So Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has his work cut out for him over the next couple of weeks. He got the most important deal done. But his team’s depth is just as critical to its success as its best player.

13 Comments

  1. David Moore says:

    Why not bring 6’10” Ed Davis back ??

  2. Justcus says:

    Raptors on the right track.. If bosh wants to be recognized once again across the league as someone other than a 3rd wheel scrub then he would sign with the Raptors for a reasonable price. Deow or Ariza along with a potential revitalization of VC would push the team beyond the second round.

  3. Joseph says:

    It has been brought that the most potential of player in his lovable team–Rapters.
    Actually, until last season I recognize how much talent Lowry got—perfect dribble, very explosive that is a big key of Toronto Raptors.
    The high-managed people make a wonderful decision at this moment.

  4. Mike says:

    I love grammar policing as much as the next geek, but I couldn’t find any example of the incorrect usage of “their”…

    Oh yeah, good job Raps! Nice to see a marquee guy re-up in T.O.!

  5. CARTOON says:

    This team is trying to build like the spurs and heat mix… they want a semi all star almost there three in Lowery, Demar, and JV, but they have a deep team with all the other guys. They have 4 good players in Amir, Ross, Patterson, and Vasquez.. They just traded Novak to clear up space. They can’t get another big name if they trade fields and maybe Amir to get under the cap to sign a decent name. This team is thinking for 2015/2016 to peak not next year.

  6. bear says:

    aye yo my boy schu, you used the wrong their. its ‘posed to be there, not their you dingus head. raps in 4, bears all day

  7. Sean Tahamihiya says:

    Amazing to see the Raptors sign Guard Kyle Lowry. Very nice individual, has potential, if not already, to become one of the great point guards in the current NBA! I think the Raptor’s have proved that they too are a at the verge of becoming an elite team in the NBA.

  8. johnnyhoops1980 says:

    Believe it or not, this is probably one of the biggest free agent signings of the offseason. The best available PG on the market could have changed the landscape for a bunch of teams. The fact that the Rapts retained him is huge.

  9. harrythehawk says:

    The Raptors won’t be any better or any worse this season…

  10. rico says:

    As much as Steve Novak and Landry Fields are great individuals and added some extra dimension at times, the Raptors cannot afford to pay them to play 0-5 minutes per game. Hopefully Masai can find a way to unload their contracts.

  11. lee says:

    the should try to bring back bosh and maybe grab deng if their serious about winning next year

  12. mee(a)t says:

    Do they really need that more work? i think they have the pieces needed for a playoff run…they just need maturity.

    • Andreww says:

      But you just said the exact problem, “..i think they have the pieces needed for a playoff run”. I don’t think any team aspires to just have a middle of the road playoff team. Even if they’re good enough to win a round, they still wouldn’t be an elite team that can challenge the best.