Tristan Thompson a Future Possibility for the Toronto Raptors
Kevin Durant to Toronto in 2016 is a pipe dream for any Raptors fan and it’s a discussion for another day.
What’s second to any Durant rumours surrounding the Raptors is the expectation of a young Canadian joining the playoff bound team.
Some fans actually wanted the Raptors to trade up for the first overall pick this past summer for the opportunity to draft Andrew Wiggins. A highly thought after 19 year old Toronto native who’s never played a single NBA game.
No one can predict if Wiggins will succeed or fail in the NBA, but with the young core General Manager Masai Ujiri has put together up north, Ujiri can’t play fantasy games like the fan base.
Wiggins would be a great fit with the Raptors, but at a cost in which the team would be moving backwards in their building process.
After trading Rudy Gay last season the Raptors went on a 42-22 run, good enough to finish with a 48-34 record. It has been predicted the Raptors could have finished 53-29 if the Gay trade came before the season, one win shy of the Miami Heat.
So, with a slight realistic chance of finishing with the first seed in the 2014-2015 season, Ujiri can add a Canadian to the roster in the future as he has tried in the past, however, he has to do it to better the team.
During the draft this past June, Ujiri and the Raptors targeted Canadian point guard Tyler Ennis, who fell two draft spots ahead of the Raptors pick to the Phoenix Suns. Ujiri urged all draft night to acquire Ennis, but their was no budging on the Suns end.
With the 37th pick in the draft the Raptors selected DeAndre Daniels. Passing up on Toronto native Dwight Powell, who went 45th to Charlotte (later traded to Cleveland).
With still a list of Canadians left the Raptors instead traded the 59th pick in the draft. Ending their draft night without a Canadian.
Then the Raptors released third string point guard Dwight Buycks. Opening the door for a Canadian point guard to take the last roster spot.
Canadian Myck Kabongo could have been that third string point guard for the Raptors. Instead the team signed Summer League star Will Cherry. Passing up on a chance to sign an undrafted Canadian.
The next question is, which Canadian is next line to be in the headlines to possibly joining the Raptors?
With Wiggins traded from Cleveland to Minnesota, many are looking forward to 2017 when the first overall pick can become a free agent. A possible chance to see a homecoming for Wiggins.
Even before ’17 a name that’s rarely to never mentioned in the same sentence as the Raptors is soon to be restricted free agent next summer.
Tristan Thompson is only 23 years of age, and to some is coming off a season in which he struggled, averaging close to 12 points and nine rebounds a game. For his career the power forward has been close to a double double a game guy. Averaging close to 11 points and nine rebounds per game.
With the Cavaliers acquiring Kevin Love from Minnesota and Anderson Varejao close to full strength, Thompson is pushed to the bench into a sixth man role. Thompson will still play heavy minutes with the Cavaliers, but with the opportunity to start elsewhere, Thompson can’t pass that up. Especially when his hometown team could be knocking on his door.
The Raptors current starter Amir Johnson is also set to hit the open market next summer. Johnson’s contract of 5 years, worth $34 million will be coming off the books and the Raptors could possibly sign the 27 year old to a cheaper contract, or could go for the four years younger Thompson.
Johnson this past season averaged just over 10 points and under seven rebounds a game. Nothing spectacular compared to Thompson’s near double double numbers, but Johnson also shared minutes alongside Patrick Patterson, the Raptors first big off the bench and newly signed to a 3 year deal worth $18.2 million.
Patterson, who’s been a off the bench player his entire career has yet to play more than 70 games in a season. Thompson has played 82 in each of the past two and Johnson has only missed six games in the last two seasons. Making all three durable health wise, but Patterson is most likely projected as an off the bench player for the Raptors future. Leaving Thompson and Johnson as possibilities next summer.
Both Thompson and Johnson have very similar numbers, however, Thompson has an edge on Johnson in one category the Raptors will need to improve on to possibly take the next step into the playoffs.
Last season the Raptors struggled rebounding the ball as they finished 17th in the league and 22nd in opponents offensive rebounds per game. Per 48 minutes Thompson averages just over 9 rebounds a game, and Johnson is about 2.6 less than that.
Both the big men will give you similar scoring numbers as per 48 minutes Thompson averages 17.8 and Johnson just below him at 17.3. Both add the same amount of value to the their teams as Thompson and Johnson both added about 4.5 wins to their respective teams this past season. However, who makes the Raptors better?
Along with Johnson the Raptors will have about $32 million of guaranteed money coming off the books. Clearing enough cap space to make a huge offer sheet to Thompson and still strengthen their bench. Making their roster a possible Championship contender.
After the acquisition of Love, the Cavaliers will have three max contract guys on their roster. Along with Love’s reported 5 year deal worth $120 million, LeBron James is set to make over $21 million in ’15-’16 and Kyrie Irving will be set at $15.5 million. Locking the Cavaliers at close to $60.5 million between those three players.
The cap space is reportedly being raised after this coming season. Giving the Cavaliers some breathing room as Varejao’s $9 million also clears their books. Making the only way for the Raptors to steal Thompson is to front load his contract, so it becomes tough for the Cavaliers to match. Leading to the Raptors possibly back loading the contracts of other free agent signings, which could lead to financial issues in the future.
The free agent class next summer is not very intriguing so front loading Thompson contract won’t affect the Raptors play in free agents in the summer of ’16 when the market is to be loaded with talent compared to next summer.
It’ll be an interesting story line to see if the Raptors prefer a younger Thompson over Johnson come next summer. Nonetheless, both Thompson and Johnson, two different players will still provide exactly what the Raptors need out of the power forward position. It’ll be a tough for the Franchise to choose as the Cavaliers won’t let Thompson go easily. Making the decision to pick Thompson over Johnson harder for the Raptors.