The Toronto Raptors' froncourt issues this season may have been avoidable.
Once Toronto's former bigs, Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol, signed with the two Los Angeles teams in the offseason, the Raptors pivoted to Aron Baynes and Alex Len, inking the two centres to short term deals. But according to Sportsnet's Michael Grange Ibaka wanted to re-sign with the Raptors and Toronto's frontcourt could have looked very different this season.
"[Ibaka] understood that it might mean having to settle for a one-year deal as the club was doing everything in their power to avoid taking on commitments that would interfere with their cap space in 2021," Grange reported Wednesday. "But the Raptors’ first offer – about $12 million for the 2020-21 season – was below what he was expecting and while Toronto came up to $14 million, they were still trying to keep some powder dry to pursue Gasol. That didn’t go over well with Ibaka who, according to multiple sources, resented having to play behind the Spanish international and wasn’t going to sign on for a shared role again. Ibaka quickly pivoted to the Los Angeles Clippers and their two-year deal for $19 million."
If the Raptors had shifted their offseason focus solely onto Ibaka, it's likely the 31-year-old centre would still be with the organization. Instead, Toronto reportedly wanted to go big, hoping it could bring back both centres while maintaining cap flexibility in case Giannis Antetokounmpo hit the market.
Ultimately, that decision seems to have cost the organization dearly. They struck out on all three and are now trying to make do with a lackluster centre rotation and a 1-5 record to start the year.