Rockets News

NBA East Conf Free Agents – Current Status 1PM, July 1

By Tamberlyn Richardson
6 of 16

Mar 30, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) fouls against Houston Rockets forward Josh Smith (5) during the first half at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Unrestricted: G: Lou Williams,  G/F: Landry Fields,  F: Amir Johnson,  F/C: Tyler Hansbrough, C/F: Chuck Hayes, C: Greg Stiemsma

With Williams winning sixth man this season his stock likely increased and lots of teams will want to add his scoring capabilities off the bench. Whether the Raptors want to spend that money is a hotly contested topic among the Toronto faithful. Masai Ujiri tipped his hat a bit by trading Greivis Vasquez opting to replace him with a defensive point guard (Delon Wright) in the draft. Notably last season the Raptors regressed defensively especially when Vasquez and Williams were on the court together. Aside from stopping paint penetration and teams running in transition the other huge issue the Raptors had was playing way too much iso ball. Ujiri responded to reporters that they could see there were changes required based on the post season sweep.

The fact Toronto is one of the teams LaMarcus Aldridge will visits showcases that Ujiri doesn’t intend to stand pat and the Vaquez trade was likely to free up some funds in order to go after a big free agent like Aldridge. Although the Raptors are unlikely to get LA it sends the message to the team, the fans and other free agents they intend to compete and improve. My personal short list of free agents for the Raptors pursue includes Khris Middleton  Tobias Harris, Wesley Matthews, DeMarre Carroll(see below) and Paul Milsap. Each of those players would help improve the forward positions (which is where the Raptors need relief, though Matthews is more of a shooting guard).

Yahoo Sources: Free agent DeMarre Carroll agrees to $60M deal with Toronto.

— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) July 1, 2015

It was obvious with the Vasquez trade Ujiri will aggressively target free agents to upgrade the front court  specifically the forward positions and until those options are either successful or exhausted he won’t address their own free agents. I’m hoping he finds a way to upgrade both starting forward positions and keeps enough money in the coffers to retain Amir Johnson to come off the bench in a reserve role as either a power forward or a center.  He’s beloved in Toronto and has often said he wants to finish his career here. I hope Ujiri and management find a way to make this happen.

As for the other free agents Fields and Stiemsma won’t be resigned and barring Hayes signing a veteran deal he’s likely gone as well. The question marks are on Hansbrough, Johnson and Williams. Based on the following tweet Lou Williams hasn’t given up on returning to Toronto:

And why is that? Give me some information I don't know about

— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) June 30, 2015

I also won’t be surprised if Ujiri extends a max offer to certain players like Draymond Green to force the hand of Golden State which would then free up other players (possibly Harrison Barnes, the player Toronto notoriously lost because of a coin toss and ended up getting Terrence Ross instead). Currently though Ujiri is aggressively pursuing Wesley Matthews (homer hat on …PLEASE LET THIS HAPPEN!)

Reports: Raptors chasing Wesley Matthews, would play Carroll at 4

— CBS Sports NBA (@CBSSportsNBA) July 1, 2015

Bottom line Ujiri is determined to keep the Raptors relevant while simultaneously growing their core; that is until a certain Toronto native has an opportunity to return home where he has almost cult like status (Andrew Wiggins).

Next: Butler Mulls Over Bulls Offer