The Raptors are “sniffing around” for an upgrade at power forward, writes Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders, who hears from league sources who mention David West, Taj Gibson and Kenneth Faried, among others, in connection with Toronto. However, the Raptors aren’t willing to part with much in return, though they’d like to part with expiring contracts if it would net a frontcourt upgrade, Kyler adds.
West makes $12MM this year, and Pacers president of basketball operations Larry Bird said this week that while the 34-year-old hadn’t given him any indication of whether he intended to exercise his $12.6MM player option for next season, he anticipated West would return to Indiana. Bird also said the Pacers are in “win-now mode,” which would suggest that he doesn’t have any interest in trading West for expiring deals.
Sean Deveney of The Sporting News on Wednesday loosely connected Gibson to the Raptors, as well as the Suns, Pistons and Blazers, though it’s unclear if Chicago has any willingness to part with the key reserve, even amid a crowded frontcourt for the Bulls this season. The 29-year-old is in year two of a four-year extension that’ll pay him $8MM this season with salaries that escalate to $8.95MM in 2016/17.
The Nuggets don’t want to part with Faried, as Chris Mannix of SI.com wrote last week, seemingly counter to an early-season report indicating that the Nuggets weren’t sold on Faried even after signing him in October to a four-year extension worth at least $50MM. The 25-year-old’s shot attempts and points per game are off this season compared to last year even after a breakout performance with Team USA this summer.
Incumbent Raptors starting power forward Amir Johnson is on an expiring contract that’s worth $7MM to him this season, while Landry Fields, Chuck Hayes, Louis Williams, Tyler Hansbrough and Greg Stiemsma are the other Raptors set for free agency this summer. Kyler suggests that the Raptors would be willing to give up any one of their players on expiring contracts aside from Williams. Toronto has more than $49MM in commitments against a projected $66.5MM salary cap for next season, so any deal that gives up a soon-to-be free agent for a player with guaranteed money for next season would cut into what figures to be fairly significant cap flexibility.
The Raptors are in second place in the Eastern Conference, and though they’ve lost their past two games, they won six in a row at the end of January. Still, the team has mismatched parts and will be in major trouble if GM Masai Ujiri doesn’t make a move, Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun opines (All Twitter links).