30 teams in 30 days: Raptors healthy, ready to resume after a quiet offseason

The Raptors are bringing back the core that led to 48 wins last season.

Important additions: Josh Jackson, Otto Porter Jr., Juancho Hernangomez (free agency)

Important subtractions: none

Last season: It was a reasonably good season for the Raptors, winning 48 games in a very strong conference and going through six games with the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs. There were two very encouraging developments: Pascal Siakam (22.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 5.3 app) resumed a high level of play after a season setback, and Scottie Barnes was named Kia Rookie of the Year. Additionally, Gary Trent Jr. (18.3 ppg) proved a wise summer 2021 free-agent signing. Had Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby not missed a combined 51 games through injury, the Raptors might have broken the 50-win barrier. Nonetheless, Toronto remained a solid franchise with depth and a star in Siakam, one of the league’s better players for the final three months of the season.

Summary summer: The offseason was quiet for the Raptors mostly because they were missing a first-round pick and refusing to take the team out for a chance at Kevin Durant. More on that in a minute.

But first: Toronto made a cheap buy in the free-agent market by adding Porter, fresh off a championship run with Golden State.

Porter was an excellent 3-pointer during his time with the Wizards, then had to deal with nagging injuries that shortened his time on the court, and then re-established himself as a range shooter last season with the Warriors, where he was a perfect match for Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Porter is also a reliable defender and should help the Raptors in that area. All in all, Porter seems an ideal fit for the second entity and someone who can start when needed, much like he did with the Warriors during their title run.

The Raptors also added some “Hustle” by picking up Hernangomez, the surprise supporting actor in the 2022 film starring Adam Sandler. He played sparingly for three teams last season and could carve out a rotational role for himself in Toronto. In addition, the Raptors have signed undrafted swinger Ron Harper Jr., who is likely to be placed in the club’s player development program.

And now to KD:

There were hints of flirtation between the Raptors and Nets over the disgruntled star before KD and Brooklyn agreed to a truce. This wasn’t a big surprise. Raptors CEO Masai Ujiri rolled the dice on a debased star when he traded DeMar DeRozan for a season of Kawhi Leonard three years ago, and how did that work out?

This was a different situation in that Durant is under contract for four seasons and therefore in no danger of escaping through the free hand like Leonard and saving the 2019 champions for the Clippers.

But all talks between the two clubs ended with the mere mention of Barnes being included in a package. It was essentially a deal breaker, and imagine that: a team refusing to trade a player with one season experience for a player with a Kia MVP award and two Finals MVPs.

However, Durant is 34 and Barnes just turned 21. That’s too much of a gap, and besides, the Raptors are eager to keep Barnes in the herd for the long haul. Despite the city’s charm (see Kawhi), attracting free agents to Toronto isn’t easy (weather, high taxes, currency exchange). Therefore, it is in the best interest of the club to draft and hold as well as possible.

So the Raptors want to come back with better health for VanVleet, maybe a breakout season on the horizon for OG, continued star power from Siakam, and more from Barnes. It’s a very good rotation which, if everyone stays healthy, could make a splash in the east.

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Next: Philadelphia 76ers | So far: Washington Wizard

> 30 teams in 30 days: Full schedule

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Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can email him here, his archive can be found here and keep following him Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs, or Turner Broadcasting.

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