Raptors' heavy lifting starts now

Atlanta Hawks centre Jason Collins (34) is a free agent the Toronto Raptors might attempt to sign....

Atlanta Hawks centre Jason Collins (34) is a free agent the Toronto Raptors might attempt to sign. (GETTY IMAGES)

Ryan Wolstat, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:09 PM ET

Bryan Colangelo has some work to do.

The Raptors president/general manager currently has 10 players under contract.

If the salary cap holds at $58 million, the Raptors will have somewhere in the range of $10 million to spend to fill five spots, depending on the vagaries of the new collective bargaining agreement.

He has the option of making qualifying offers for Joey Dorsey (possible) and Julian Wright (no chance).

Colangelo has a first-round pick in Jonas Valanciunas, the team’s centre of the future, who will spend the rest of the season in his native Lithuania along with swingman Sonny Weems, who signed a contract with another Lithuanian club that did not contain an NBA out.

He has a point guard in Jose Calderon who has played just 68 games in each of the past three seasons and no depth behind him at the position because Jerryd Bayless and especially Leandro Barbosa are combo guards best suited to bringing scoring punch off of the bench.

Bayless still has time to prove otherwise, but for now it’s hard to see him being given the keys to the offence full-time.

With Andrea Bargnani slated to move to his more comfortable power forward spot, Colangelo has three fours (Bargnani, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson) and no true centre. A stopgap until Valanciunas is ready surely will be on the shopping list.

With an amnesty rule expected to be a part of the new agreement, a number of veteran options could be available, including incumbent Reggie Evans, who while not a centre, paired well with Bargnani when healthy last season.

Without a lockout, Evans likely would have received a hefty new contract elsewhere, but he now will likely be squeezed out by a flooded market of amnesty casualties.

Cheap options in the middle could include free agents Jason Collins, Jeff Foster, Aaron Gray, Kwame Brown, Joel Przybilla, Chuck Hayes or Francisco Elson.

The team would love to have Tyson Chandler and Nene, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Jordan or even Samuel Dalembert, but it is hard to see any of them ending up in Toronto for a variety of reasons.

The team desperately needs another swingman.

Barring additions, James Johnson should start at small forward with Linas Kleiza still a number of weeks away from a return from knee surgery.

DeMar DeRozan and Bargnani will be expected to carry an anaemic offence and new head coach Dwane Casey will attempt to get one of the league’s most horrific defensive outfits to play far better at that end of the court.

RAPTORS SALARY SITUATION

Jose Calderon: 2 years, about $21 million remaining

Andrea Bargnani: 4 years, $41.5 remaining

Leandro Barbosa: 1 year, $7.6 remaining

Amir Johnson: 3 years, $18 + $7 million team option remaining.

Linas Kleiza: 3 years, $13.8 remaining

DeMar DeRozan: 3 years, $10.5 remaining (rookie deal)

Ed Davis: 4 years, $11.7 remaining (rookie deal)

James Johnson: 3 years, $8.6 remaining (rookie deal)

Solomon Alabi: 3 years, $2.83 remaining (rookie deal)

Other: Joey Dorsey ($1.09 million qualifying offer), Reggie Evans (FA), Julian Wright (FA), Alexis Ajinca (FA), Sonny Weems/Jonas Valanciunas (playing in Lithuania)

POSSIBLE FREE AGENT FITS FOR RAPTORS

CENTRE

Tyson Chandler (unlikely, but Casey loves him)

Kwame Brown

Joel Przybilla

Jeff Foster

Aaron Gray

Jason Collins

Chuck Hayes

SG/SF

DeShawn Stevenson

Josh Howard

Michael Redd

Willie Green

Caron Butler

Gary Forbes

—ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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