After a franchise-record 56 wins in the regular season and advancing to the conference finals for the first time, the Toronto Raptors’ season was a major success despite bowing out to the heavily favored Cleveland Cavaliers in six games.
The Wizards will go into the offseason with as many as nine spots open. Their goals are to get younger without sacrificing experience (like Portland), more explosive and identify a few two-way players in the process to improve their 21st scoring defense. Adding players indiscriminately isn't an option because of the cap. The big fish (meaning, big-name free agents) will get signed first. Assuming the Wizards land one, even if it's not named Kevin Durant, they'll construct the roster with the remaining money with as many as eight other spots open. More than likely they'll retain 2-4 of their own free agents which will cut that number of open slots from 5-7.
They'll need a solid backup for Marcin Gortat at center, a true scorer behind Bradley Beal and a backup point guard for John Wall.
These are the Raptors’ best free agents available, in order of best fit:
Bismack Biyombo: He blew up in the playoffs, and he certainly will decline his $3 million player option for next season. In a league where going small is emphasized over size, Biyombo is both. He's 6-9 and is strong enough to play center (listed as a power forward) and has elite shot-blocking ability to protect the rim and he's agile enough to switch out onto guards on pick-and-rolls. Biyombo's value, as a result, has skyrocketed despite not being much of an offensive threat outside of garbage putbacks. He'll cost $15 million to $17 million, one front office exec told CSNmidatlantic.com. That'll price him out of D.C. as long as Gortat ($12 million per) remains. A big with Biyombo's skill set as a backup at center, however, is ideal.
James Johnson: An energy guy, he's a 6-9 career backup at forward. Johnson isn't know as a shooter but was a Toronto fan favorite. He made 37 starts but was hot and cold. Johnson earned $2.5 million, has experience but isn't old (29) and could be an option to fill out a bench. The Wizards were terrible when it came to 50/50 balls and hustle plays. With averages of 5.0 points and 2.2 rebounds, Johnson wouldn't cost as much as some of the options that follow.
DeMar DeRozan: The 6-5 scorer will decline his player option for $10.1 million but it appears he'll likely remain in Toronto when he renegotiates his deal. He manufactures his offense from the foul line in a way that Beal could only hope and he stays healthier, but in every other category -- particularly when it comes to playoff performance on the road -- Beal has the edge. Wall is a better three-point shooter than DeRozan. In the unlikelihood that Beal and Wizards can't come to terms during his restricted free agency, DeRozan is a solid Plan B. But it won't come to this anyway.
Luis Scola: The power forward, an unrestricted free agent, was the weak link in an otherwise strong starting five. Scola, 36, saw his time dwindle in the postseason. He's a good bench option if size is needed. Despite his age he started in all 76 games in which he played. Scola was like a fish out of water in the playoffs (25.8% shooting) and lacks three-point range which is what the Wizards need in a four off the bench.