The Toronto Raptors made history in 2019 by beating the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA championship for the first time since the club was founded in 1995. The 114-110 win at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, as reported by globalnews.ca, will go down as one the game’s great moments but thoughts are already turning to the 2019/20 season and whether the Raptors have any chance of defending their title.
Leonard departure major blow
It was widely accepted at the start of the summer that the Raptor’s chances of remaining at the NBA summit rested in the hands of Kawhi Leonard. As it happened, the small forward departed for the Los Angeles Clippers in July taking any realistic hopes of a title defence with him. Remember, Leonard’s total of 732 points scored during the 2019 playoffs has only been surpassed by two men in the history of the game: LeBron James (2018) and Michael Jordan (1992).
Contract decisions to be made
With the contracts of Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka all set to expire next summer, the Raptors are entering a period where they will need to work smart in the market to upgrade their team if they are to remain contenders. A title defence cannot be ruled out completely but they will be relying on their current roster to perform at an incredibly high level while compensating for the departure of the two-time NBA Finals MVP. As a result, the best betting sites for Canadian players, listed at www.sportsbettingcanada.org, have at least seven or eight teams ahead of them in the NBA Championship betting markets.
The Raptors aim in the upcoming campaign must be to reach the post-season. To achieve that they may be tempted to offer lucrative short-term deals to the Lowry, Gasol and Ibaka to see them through to the 2021 free agency market when more trading options are expected to be available. A shot at the play-offs would satisfy the fans and keep the team relevant as a competitive force.
Retaining Pascal Siakam a priority
Per sportsnet.ca, it is expected that Pascal Siakam will be offered a full contract next summer and the Raptors will look to shape an elite team around the most improved player of the 2018/19 season. Fans should have faith that the organization is extremely well run and has become an attractive proposition for players looking to improve their game in a professional environment. The Raptors operate a tight ship, do not court drama or controversy and treat their staff with respect. Add a newly found winning mentality into that mix and you have to be positive about the future.
Retaining the championship might be too much to ask this time around but the Raptors are well placed to remain amongst the game’s elite. They do not have a large number of players tied to long expensive contracts giving them a flexible financial position compared to many other clubs. Everything will depend on how they use that to their advantage over the next two seasons. So while the players maintain the high level on the court, the management staff will need to put in an all-star performance off it.