Toronto Raptors have expressed interest in Boris Diaw

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - APRIL 21: Boris Diaw /

Prior to being waived, the Toronto Raptors reportedly reached out to the Utah Jazz to inquire about veteran forward Boris Diaw, according to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune.

With the DeMarre Carroll trade finally official, the Toronto Raptors are back scouring the market for players to add to their revamped roster. One name the team has reportedly expressed interest in is Boris Diaw, according to Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune.

Shortly after Jones’ report, the Jazz actually waived Diaw, which isn’t much of a surprise considering his deal for next season would have been guaranteed if the Jazz did not move him by Saturday, July 15.

Although this means a potential trade between the Raptors and Jazz is out of the question, it doesn’t mean the Raptors are no longer interested in the 35-year-old veteran forward. In fact, I think the Raptors will be even more inclined to pursue him now and possibly attempt to use their bi-annual exception to sign him. The veteran minimum would be a better deal for the Raptors, of course, but I think just about every contender in the league would be interested in Diaw if he was willing to sign for the veteran minimum, so I doubt Masai Ujiri could persuade him to take that significant of a pay cut.

The problem for the Raptors, however, is they’re currently projected to be slightly above the tax. While the team could use their bi-annual exception to sign Diaw, I could see Toronto instead either waiving Justin Hamilton, or trading Lucas Nogueira, to create the necessary space to bring in Diaw and stay under the cap.

Now, I understand the whole, “the Raptors are so close to the tax they might as well pay it” narrative, but staying under the cap is important to the team’s long-term plan. If the team pays into the tax in three years out of any four year stretch, they will get slapped with “repeater” penalties, which extremely limits a team’s financial flexibility. If you’re the Raptors, does it make sense to burn one of those years this season? Unless something drastic happens, probably not. So does it not make more sense to keep this salary cap tool in your back pocket?

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I get fans want the team to do everything they can to win, but keep in mind the Raptors need to re-sign Norman Powell next offseason and entering the tax threshold after signing him — and possibly another player — is a more logical idea. Plus, if the Raptors stay under the luxury tax this season, they’ll receive tax money this season, which they could roll over into next season.

Outside of the salary cap ramifications, Diaw would be a great fit for the Raptors. The crafty veteran is one of the better passing big men in the league and he is capable of stretching the floor with his three-point shot. Yes, Diaw regressed mightily last season and fell of a cliff from three, only hitting 24.7 percent of his attempts, which is well below his 33.6 percent career average, but his ability to “show” opponents he can shoot a three is still a half decent asset to have, especially in a Toronto offence that will more than likely look to improve their spacing and perimeter shooting this season.

Where Diaw might help the Raptors the most, though, is in the locker room. The 14-year pro is said to be one of the best locker room guys in the league and he is the consummate professional who could become a steady presence for the Raptors. He might not have the same impact a guy like P.J. Tucker, Patrick Patterson or Bismack Biyombo did on the court, but it seems like he can still step in as the team leader and help mold this roster in a Luis Scola-like fashion.

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Overall, I think fans are intrigued by the Raptors interest in Diaw, but they’re also happy the team didn’t part ways with an asset to acquire him. After all, the Raptors have already parted ways with future picks this offseason and Ujiri is going to need picks if he wants to continue to put an emphasis on the team’s player development program. In the meantime, add Diaw to the list of names to monitor this offseason.