Looking at Potential Buyout Targets for the Toronto Raptors

Dec 9, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward David Lee (42) reacts to the crowd after his basket against the Chicago Bulls in the second half at TD Garden. Celtics defeated the Bulls 105-100. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 9, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward David Lee (42) reacts to the crowd after his basket against the Chicago Bulls in the second half at TD Garden. Celtics defeated the Bulls 105-100. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

Could the Toronto Raptors improve their roster by adding a player who was bought out? We take a look at a couple candidates who might intrigue the Raptors.

After a quiet NBA trade deadline that saw Toronto Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri stand pat, the roster remains the exact same. Although Ujiri didn’t find a player at the trade deadline who he thought was worth acquiring, that doesn’t mean the Raptors can’t add to their roster.

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One way in particular is by trying to sign players who were bought out/released and clear waivers. This isn’t just as easy as waiting for players to clear waivers like in fantasy basketball, however. There are a couple of factors affecting the Raptors.

The first being Anthony Bennett, who currently occupies a spot on the Raptors’ roster. Ujiri said earlier in the season that he doesn’t view Bennett as a one-year project, which is completely understandable.

The real issue here, however, is that Bennett, despite all his hard work to improve, still isn’t a contributing player for the Raptors. His game on both sides of the ball remains a work in progress, what position he fits into is still debatable, and to be frank, he’s a liability when on the court. For a team hoping to make a deep playoff run, like the Raptors, you need to make use of every roster spot.

Toronto Raptors
Jan 24, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors forward Anthony Bennett (15) handles the ball against Los Angeles Clippers in the fourth quarter at Air Canada Centre. Raptors beat Clippers 112 – 94. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports /

Let’s be realistic, if Bennett hasn’t figured it out yet, he won’t just miraculously figure it out during the second half of the season. It’s going to take time. With that being said, the Raptors could cut him, and when he clears waivers, bring him back as an in-season D-League affiliate player. That would allow the Raptors to continue overseeing his development and allow him to play a lot of much-needed minutes.

The second issue after Bennett is the salary cap. The Raptors don’t have the cap space needed to claim a player from waivers. So if they wanted to add a player, he must not only clear waivers, but he also has to be convinced by the Raptors to sign with them over other teams.

With those two factors in mind, there are a couple of players the Raptors could target. Starting in their own organization, they can sign a D-League player to two 10-day contracts before signing them to a year-long deal, so players like Ronald Roberts and Melvin Ejim could garner consideration. Both bring a lot of energy to the court, both rebound well, and both are decent defenders.

Aside from those two, there are a couple of interesting names floating around the NBA. Players like Joe Johnson and Anderson Varejao would likely attempt to sign with Cleveland before Toronto, so you can scratch both of them off the list.

Andrea Bargnani? I mean, we all love the nickname Primo, but after that it’s tough to think of things you like about him on the court. I think the Raptors would kindly pass on their old pal Primo.

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How about Kevin Martin or Steve Novak? Both can shoot, but unfortunately neither defends well, and Martin plays a position that the Raptors are already deep at, and did I mention neither defends well? Scratch them off the list too.

Alright, how about David Lee or J.J. Hickson? According to Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders “there is mutual interest” between Lee and the Raptors, but acquiring him through a post-waiver deal was likely the only option because of his salary. Although it’s very likely Lee will sign in Dallas, according to numerous reports, he’s the kind of guy that I think would have been an okay fit in Toronto. He’d be similar to Luis Scola; a high IQ player who can chip in offensively with the second unit, but it is a liability on defence.

If things with the Mavs somehow fall through, I wouldn’t be against the Raptors taking a run at the 33-year-old veteran. As for Hickson, he plays with a high motor and rebounds well, but aside from that he doesn’t offer much. I’d rather take my chances with an in-house player like Ronald Roberts before Hickson.

If you want to think way outside of the box here, Dorell Wright, the brother of Raptors rookie guard Delon Wright, is somebody who might be a fit for Toronto.

The lanky 6-foot-9 forward is an average defender and an above average three-point shooter, shooting 36.5 percent from beyond the arc during his NBA career. He’s currently playing in China, but if he did want to make a return to the NBA, you’d figure a chance to play with his brother would make Toronto all the more intriguing.

After that, though, the options are limited. It’s probably not a shock considering how quiet the trade deadline was. Either way, upgrading Bennett’s roster spot isn’t a bad idea for the Raptors. But who to upgrade it with is the real challenge since what the Raptors need isn’t widely available.

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If you were the Raptors GM, what would you do? Would you pursue one of these potential buy-out candidates, or would you just keep the team as is? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.