Raptors Mailbag: Free Agency Targets, Scottie Barnes' Potential, & Draft Needs

The Toronto Raptors will have plenty of options as they look to build around Scottie Barnes this offseason and here's a look at what may be on the table
Feb 16, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (1) dribbles past Scottie Barnes
Feb 16, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards (1) dribbles past Scottie Barnes / Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports
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We’ve got a long offseason ahead for the Toronto Raptors and I figured I’d take some questions from fans as we head into the second round of the NBA playoffs.

If you’re interested in asking a question either direct message me on Instagram (@aaronbenrose) or ask your question when I share an Instagram story for mailbag questions.

Without further ado, here are this week’s questions:

What do the Raptors need for this year’s draft? - @Sanjaywignarajah


That’s the short answer and really what every organization should prioritize over everything else. Always take the best player available and figure the roster construction out later. You never know who will get hurt or what trade opportunities arise. It’s boring to say, but it’s the truth and the Raptors know that.

That said, they could really use a wing defender with some size. It’s ironic that this team used to be full of 6-foot-9ish players and now that’s a huge need for the team. That would be a top priority for me along with a backup point guard and ideally some more shooting.

It would probably be a good idea to look at a big man maybe with the 31st pick. There’s no immediate need for a big with Jakob Poeltl and Kelly Olynyk under contract, but a developmental big man to replace Christian Koloko would be helpful.

Shai or Edwards? Who (are) you building around – @Franchizebuilder

I’d be happy with either.

It’s honestly remarkable how much young talent there is in the league right now. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has a case to be the league’s MVP, it wouldn’t be shocking if Anthony Edwards won the Finals MVP, and Victor Wembanyama in San Antonio is just getting started and looks like a future multi-time MVP.

This may be my Canadian bias, but I’ll take Gilgeous-Alexander. The age difference isn’t enough to sway me here. Gilgeous-Alexander was an efficient 30-point-per-game scorer and just led an Oklahoma City Thunder team with less talent than Minnesota to the No. 1 seed in the West.

Edwards is phenomenal too and there’s no wrong choice here. What’s crazy is neither Edwards nor Gilgeous-Alexander would go No. 1 in a draft of all the young players in the league.

Realistic trades or signings for the Raptors – @davidp1700

So much of this comes down to what happens in the NBA draft lottery and what Toronto decides to do with Gary Trent Jr. and Bruce Brown.

If the Raptors want to keep Trent, I could see the organization trading Brown for a draft pick. They would have traded him for a first-round pick at the trade deadline, but that opportunity never arose. Maybe that changes during the draft when more picks become available.

That route would limit Toronto to just the mid-level exception and the Raptors' track record there suggests not to be too excited about that option. Otherwise, Toronto could clear up roughly $20 to $30 million in cap space if the organization parts ways with Trent and Brown.

Caleb Martin and Derrick Jones Jr. would give Toronto some more size should the organization go after a wing in free agency. Monte Morris, Kris Dunn, and Tyus Jones would give the Raptors more guard depth with some veteran experience. Jalen Smith seems like a bit of a fit a floor-spacing young big, but Toronto's frontcourt is a little crowded.

What do you expect IQs contract to look like? - @mauriciov_.03

The New York Knicks reportedly offered Immanuel Quickley a contract worth roughly $18 million per season that he turned down, according to HoopsHype's Michael Scotto. It sounds like he was looking for a salary closer to $20 to $25 million and that seems about right.

I expect Toronto to wait on signing Quickley because his salary cap hold is so small this offseason, but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t back with the team next year probably on a three or four-year deal.

Do you think Scottie Barnes will be a better option for a winning team than Pascal was? - @Haydenlane100

This feels like a trap question.

Let’s remember, Pascal Siakam was — and still is — an incredible basketball player. He was the third-best player on a championship team in 2019 and then got better. Even if he’s not a No. 1 on a championship team, I’m sure he can be a No. 2.

Barnes looks like he’s heading in that direction. It wouldn’t be surprising to me if Barnes reaches the point where he can be the No. 2 on a title team. After that, it’s always hard to bet on a player becoming a No. 1 player on a title team. The odds are against anyone reaching that level ever. The list over the past few years has been Nikola Jokic, Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, and Kawhi Leonard. Save for Leonard, all those players are multi-time MVP award winners.

Will Barnes ever be a multi-time MVP award winner? The Raptors certainly hope so, but safe money is the answer to that is probably not.

Who are some realistic FA candidates for backup PG next season? Is that a priority? - @sammyg1981

I shared a few names earlier and this is certainly a spot I could see Toronto trying to address this summer, especially in free agency. Both Raptors president Masai Ujiri and head coach Darko Rajaković mentioned the need for a backup guard and it’s hard to feel safe with a rookie coming in to fill that spot.

If Toronto does want to take a step forward next season, signing a veteran guard short-term to backup Quickley makes a lot of sense while the organization tries to develop a younger option for down the road.

Aaron Rose


Aaron Rose is a Toronto-based reporter covering the Toronto Raptors since 2020.