The deal that sent a trade package centered on DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Kawhi Leonard earned plenty of criticism from most of the Toronto Raptors fans, who believe the team traded their most loyal player for a possible one-year rental. However, Raptors President Masai Ujiri believes that they only did what is best for the team. He is also confident that they can convince Leonard to re-sign with the team when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
However, trading DeMar DeRozan is not the end of the Raptors’ offseason as they are reportedly planning their next move. According to Ian Begley of ESPN, several NBA executives said that the Raptors are “motivated” to shed some salary via trade.
“Several opposing executives say the Toronto Raptors remain motivated to shed salary via trade following the Kawhi Leonard deal earlier this week.”
Begley didn’t mention any particular player the Raptors plan to move, but Bleacher Report named some of the players who are consuming a huge chunk of the Raptors’ salary cap, including Kyle Lowry. The 32-year-old point guard is one of the many people who is dismayed with Toronto’s decision to trade DeMar DeRozan. Lowry and DeRozan are best buddies and considered as one of the most explosive backcourt duos in the league.
The Raptors owed Kyle Lowry $64 million over the next two seasons, and with DeRozan no longer in Toronto, it will not be a surprise if the veteran point guard already wants his way out of the team. However, Bleacher Report believes it’s more likely that the Raptors will keep Lowry since he is the most dependable floor general left on their roster. According to the report, there is a higher possibility that Serge Ibaka, who has two years and $45 million left on his contract, is the next trade candidate for the Raptors.
“If the Raptors want to move salary, then forward Serge Ibaka could be a candidate. Per Hoopshype, Ibaka has two years and nearly $45 million left on his deal. Notably, Ibaka’s minutes also declined last year from 31.0 to 27.5, and he had a 14.7 PER, which was the second-lowest mark of his career.”
The Raptors won’t mind letting Ibaka go since they already have Jonas Valanciunas to play as their starting center. Despite going through ups and downs last season, Ibaka can still be a reliable contributor to a team who needs a big man who can space the floor. In 76 games he played, he averaged 12.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks on 48.3 percent shooting from the field and 36 percent from beyond the arc.