The Raptors and their fans saw both ends of the free agency spectrum in about 10 hours on Saturday.
But on Sunday the fear and panic about the lack of opportunities on the forecourt had calmed down considerably.
The first was the elation of holding Fred VanVleet on a four-year, $ 85 million deal early Saturday afternoon.
The celebration of that compelling achievement ended abruptly that evening when Serge Ibaka, another mainstay in Nick Nurse’s rotation, accepted the Los Angeles Clippers’ $ 19 million two-year offer and Raptors management on the Find a viable option at Left Center.
That search lasted most of the rest of Sunday and didn’t end until her other free agent center, Marc Gasol, had followed Ibaka West and signed his own free agent deal with the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Raptors are rarely caught unsuspecting or with no backup plan, however, and it was less than a few minutes before reports of the Gasol move west fell that Shams Charania of the Athletic reported that Toronto had her vacancy in the center occupied by two. Year 14. Previously 3 million deal with Aron Baynes of the Phoenix Suns.
Baynes, whom Raptors fans should be familiar with because of his role with the Celtics in the two seasons leading up to his year in Phoenix, is a 6-foot-10, 260-pound giant with an improved touch behind the three-dot line.
He showed some of this in Boston before leaving and shot a respectable 35% from a distance in his one year with the suns.
Baynes also has a solid defensive reputation that has been earned as every team he joined improved defensively after arriving in his first year in the league with San Antonio in 2012.
Just minutes after the Baynes signing was reported, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke in on the news that the Raptors were further consolidating their forecourt by signing the Candian Center Chris Boucher. Boucher has steadily improved with the Raptors and has been rewarded with a two-year contract worth $ 13. 5 million.
While the Raptors allowed a second year on the Baynes deal, year two is a team option. The hope all along was to sign Ibaka for a year to allow financial flexibility for the 2020-21 off-season which many believe will still be a full year of free reign.
Only Ibaka can say what favored the Clippers, but if you accept the Raptors wouldn’t last more than a year (HoopsHype reported that the Raptors offered Ibaka $ 12 million for a year) then it’s either the extra year of security the Clippers offered, or the chance to play with a championship contender, which the Clippers can still claim after their early elimination last season.
Ibaka was by no means new to the league when he arrived in Toronto three full seasons ago. But over those three seasons, he developed a following in Toronto with a fan base that was just refreshing his social media efforts.
So it came as no surprise that Ibaka returned to his social media accounts again to bid farewell to a fan base that became his personal audience.
« How can I explain what Toronto, Canada and the Raptors mean to me? » Ibaka began in an Instagram message that was later repeated on Twitter. “I was welcomed to a new country and team more than three years ago and felt at home from day one. I feel really blessed to have played for this city, these fans and this organization.
“I will never forget the love I received during this trip. I want to thank Larry Tanenbaum and MLSE and the entire Toronto Raptors organization. It really is a great organization that looks after their players and I am grateful that I became NBA champion with them.
« I had great teammates, front office and staff next to me. And of course an unmatched fan base. So thank you Toronto. Thank you Canada. And thank you @Raptors. I am one of you forever. #WeTheNorth. ”
The Raptors can take up to 20 bodies to training camp next month (and right now they’re not nearly as large as that number.
In the past, the draft free agent market for the Raptors has proven lucrative. Both Fred VanVleet and Terence Davis have gone that route, but this year it’s a little different.
This year the market was much more immediate as the teams even gave up partially guaranteed money and two-way contracts to lock the players in.
That was the frenzy you saw late Wednesday night and into the wee hours of Thursday morning when people like Nate Darling from Nova Scotia and Karim Mane from Montreal were picked up.
The Raptors and VanVleet were the exception here. You’d rather read the bare boys in the Summer League better and then make a phone call. Without this option, the Raptors have stayed out of the bidding wars and will be looking through the remaining unsigned ones this week.
The league’s young guns dealing with Rookie Max expansions were fine over the weekend too. Boston-based Jayson Tatum agreed to a five-year extension for $ 195 million, while Utah’s Donovan Mitchell cashed in on his own $ 195 million five-year contract. The lovely Portland Trail Blazer weekend continued with the signing of the Harry Giles Center, formerly Sacramento. Giles was on Toronto’s radar at some point to address their openings in the forecourt . . . The Milwaukee Bucks recovered from difficult news that they lost sniper Bogdan Bogdanovic by signing former San Antonio security guard Bryn Forbes and former Knicks striker Bobby Portis, as well as defensive specialist Torrey Craig of Denver … Washington got through, holding on to Davis Bertan’s three-point threat. Bertains signed a five-year deal for $ 80 million to stay with the Wizards … Bogdanovic, a restricted free agent, now has a four-year bid sheet from Atlanta for $ 72 million. The Kings can close the deal within 48 hours to keep it or let it go to Atlanta.
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Toronto Raptors, Aron Baynes, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Chris Boucher, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol
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