After their disappointing second-round playoff exit, read about three things the Toronto Raptors can do this offseason to return to contention.
It was a year full of excitement that ended in disappointment for the Toronto Raptors after their heartbreaking second-round playoff loss at the hands of the Boston Celtics.
Over the next few months, Masai Ujiri and company will have to make some tough decisions which could mean that this team could look different depending on what the vision is.
With that being said, here are three things the Raptors could do this offseason to try and return to championship contention next season.
1. Sign Fred VanVleet
After losing his father to drug violence when he was just five years old, playing four years of collegiate basketball at Wichita State, and grinding through 16 individual assignments to the Toronto Raptors’ D/G-League affiliate, Fred VanVleet‘s day has finally come. He’s about to get PAID.
The Rockford, Ill. native said to his144,000-plus Twitter followers to bet on themselves in the summer of 2016. Soon after, he signed a two-way deal with the Raptors. His journey with the team has taken him from half-empty gyms in Mississauga to the confetti-covered floor of the NBA Finals, where he drilled a game-changing three-point shot that helped sink the Golden State Warriors en route to the Raptors’ first-ever NBA Championship.
Through it all, VanVleet never wavered on his mantra. The tweet’s unpunctuated universality inspired so many that the man who stayed to get his degree in sociology from Wichita State started a brand with the phrase as its tagline.
This offseason marks the final step for VanVleet. He’s built an amazing family. He’s won an NBA championship. Now, it’s time for that big contract.
And staying with the Raptors is the perfect fit. Although he is good enough to be a starting point guard for a playoff team in this league, VanVleet has thrived playing as an undersized SG alongside Lowry. The former Shocker set career highs in minutes played, steals, assists and points this season.
Also eight years Lowry’s junior, VanVleet could be Masai Ujiri’s succession plan for when Lowry decides to hang up his sneakers.
With the Raptors being just one year removed from filling the streets of downtown Toronto with revellers for a championship parade, it just makes too much sense to keep the band together for at least a little longer and see what they can do.