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Raptors GM Ujiri Throws A Curve To Open Free Agency

So all that noise about the Raptors meeting with free agent power forward LaMarcus Aldridge turned into smoke as President and General Manger, Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri was actually meeting with the Hawks small forward DeMarre Carroll first and the Raptors GM wasted no time in getting a deal done. Well done Ujiri, the best moves are often the ones no one saw coming and are done and put to bed before anyone can mess them up.

The timing almost seems suspicious. No sooner had the Spurs finished jumping through all the flaming hoops required to make Aldridge a max offer including sending Tiago Splitter to the Hawks for salary cap space than Carroll is tweeting he had come to a deal with the Raptors.

So the Raptors won’t be adding a current All-Star power forward to their lineup this season, instead they finally have a real solution at small forward. However, what hasn’t changed is the team still hasn’t solved its rebounding and rim protection issues. Ujiri isn’t finished yet, although the salary cap space to go after free agents with is starting to get low.

Toronto can likely still put together about 10 to 12 million in cap space and still has their $5.4 million Mid-Level exception and $2.1 Bi-Annual exception to go after free agents, plus they have trade exceptions of $6.4 million and $2.4 million. (No you cannot combine exceptions with anything)

Those trade exceptions could become become particularly useful if another team (like the Spurs) needs to dump salary in a hurry to clear salary cap space in order to sign a free agent and GMs tend to like having them around during the season just in case an opportunity crops up.

Toronto has the option to bring back Six-Man Lou Williams and that possibility has to be tempting. Williams wins teams games when he’s hot and can carry a team while coming off the bench. However, Ujiri has to question if that would be the best use of his limited cap space, especially with a veteran power forward still on the market and looking to join a winner.

Even at 34-year-old, West is still a superior rebounder and a tough physical force anywhere inside the three-point line. He’d fit on a Coach Casey led team like a hand in a glove. The only question is, after turning down a $12.7 million option year with the Pacers, would West take three-years and $25-30 million from the Raptors? West is pretty much precisely the missing veteran presence the Raptors need next season.

Of course, Ujiri could look at spreading his remaining salary cap space over several players instead of just one, although it would be difficult to generate the same impact.

It should be obvious Ujiri came to free agency with plan. This ride isn’t over yet in Toronto.



Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.




DeMarre Carroll - croppedRaptors Land Hawks Free Agent DeMarre Carroll
Apparently Raptors GM Masai Ujiri wasn’t including Terrence Ross when he kept saying he wanted to keep giving his guys a chance to show what they could do as on the first day of free agency he committed the bulk of his available salary cap space to land the Hawks unrestricted free agent small forward DeMarre Carroll with a four-year $60 million offer.




2 thoughts on “Raptors GM Ujiri Throws A Curve To Open Free Agency

  1. w

    Lou also costs teams with his horrendous percentage of games in which he shoots less than 30%.

    1. Stephen BrotherstonStephen Brotherston Post author

      Lou wins games & losses games, he takes a lot of shots to get his points, but if you don’t have bench scoring, he’s an asset – if you have bench scoring, Lou can get in the way.

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