The NBA season is officially starting up again on December 22nd . The Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri announced that the Raptors were not permitted by the city of Toronto to commence the start of the season in Toronto. All home games will be played in Tampa Bay, Florida. This year marks a huge season for the Raptors as many star players, including Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, became free agents. Free agency opened last week, with signings having started at 12:01pm on November 22.
Fred VanVleet, point guard for the Raptors from Wichita State University, re-signed on a four-year, 85-million-dollar deal. VanVleet was a crucial part of the NBA championship win in 2019 and became one to look out for last season. He averaged career highs with an average 17.6 points, 6.6 assists, and 1.9 steals. He also played an average of 35.7 minutes per game. “Steady Freddy” is definitely one to watch out for this season!
Marc Gasol’s short time with the Raptors was crucial in the 2019 Championship, as Gasol played the last year and a half in Toronto. However, Gasol signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. Last Wednesday, over video call, Gasol told reporters, “I’m going to miss Toronto… that’s just the way, sadly, this business goes, but I thought my run in Toronto could not get better.”
Serge Ibaka has decided to leave the Raptors and join the Los Angeles Clippers on a two-year, 19-million-dollar contract. l This is the second year in a row the Raptors see the departure of a crucial player to the Clippers— Kawhi Leonard left in the 2019 off-season. After two and a half successful seasons in Toronto, averaging 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game, Ibaka made the tough decision of a longer-term contact in L.A.
In addition, Chris Boucher will stay with the Raptors on a two-year, $13.5 million deal, according to Sportsnet. . Boucher averaged 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game last year, and his signing demonstrates what fans can expect from Toronto’s front court this year.
The official NBA draft commenced on November 18 with some crucial signings announced by Masai Ujiri.
Free agent center Alex Len has agreed to a one-year deal joining the Raptors this season. The financial details of the contract have yet to be released, but Len will play a crucial role in the center after the departure of Gasol.
Len is expected to be the third center on the roster, which will provide essential coverage in the case that injury occurs. SB Nation reports that he should be a crucial screen-setter for Lowry and VanVleet.
The Raptors have signed Jalen Harris from Nevada for the upcoming season. Named a “scoring machine” by All Raptors, Harris told reporters, “I’m very versatile. I think that’s one thing that Toronto can expect from me, is somebody that can do a lot of everything.”
Another player to watch out for this season is Aron Baynes from Phoenix, who has signed a two-year, $14.3 million deal. Last year he averaged a career high of 11.5 points per game.
We look forward to the exciting upcoming season for the Toronto Raptors starting next month!