Free agency in the NBA began under 16 hours ago, and the most surprising move so far might be swingman DeMarre Carroll accepting a 4-year, $60-million dollar offer from the Toronto Raptors.
Carroll had career highs across the board his last two seasons in Atlanta while on a modest two-year, $5-million dollar contract. It’s been a long journey for Carroll, who was the 27th pick in the 2009 draft. This will be Carroll’s sixth-team and his longest tenure with one team, as he had been waived multiple times, traded, and even had a stint in the D-League as a rookie.
But Carroll kept improving as a perimeter threat, shooting 39.5 from three last year on 181 attempts. The Raptors as a team only shot 35.2 percent from long-range last year during the regular season, another area where Carroll will help immediately.
The Raptors now have shored up a serious weakness on a leaky perimeter with the addition of Carroll and first-round rookie point guard Delon Wright. Wright was widely acknowledge as one of the best defensive prospects in this draft, as he averaged 2.6 steals per 40 minutes and has the lateral quickness and instincts as an impact on-ball defender.
Both Carroll and Wright bring versatility to the table for a Toronto team that couldn’t find consistency on both ends of the floor. Carroll joins swingmen Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozen on the wing, and all three can coexist with each other in different combinations.
Wright should be a quality backup to incumbent point guard Kyle Lowry, but also have the ability to play alongside Lowry if the Raptors decided to go small. Wright has the ability to guard either backcourt position thanks to a 6-5.5, 180-poind frame and a 6-7.5 wingspan.
Best of all, both additions on the Raptors defense will provide stability for years to come. With Ross becoming an unrestricted free agent next year and DeRozen having a player option, Carroll should provide the stability needed if either of the two were to leave via free agency.
With a starting lineup of Lowry, DeRozan, Carroll, power forward Patrick Patterson and center Jonas Valunciunas, the Raptors have the ability to compete with the best in the Eastern Conference. The smaller moves rounding out a bench alongside Wright, Ross and forward James Johnson could make-or-break the Raptors offseason.
Swingman Wesley Matthews is another name that could be a part of the Raptors future. There have been rumors for Toronto to have a meeting with Matthews, another great all-around player and defender. Matthews would also fit in the core rotation for the Raptors as another multidimensional 3-and-D player who could play alongside pretty much any wing player.
You’ve got to like the way the Raptors have addressed needs and issues on their roster already. Adding skill, toughness and defense on the perimeter was a must for Toronto after being swept in the postseason last year by the Wizards, and it’s clear GM Masai Ujiri is doing whatever it takes to address that as quickly as possible early this offseason. How will the rest of the roster fill out? The fun has just begun.