3 Burning questions for Toronto Raptors heading into the offseason
#2 What is the Raptors Future at the Center position?
Masai Ujiri gambled big in the 2018 offseason and mdway through last season. The Kawhi Leonard move gave the Raptors a business-like two-way player who also closes out opponents with a killer instinct.
However, adding a Marc Gasol to the chemistry of the team worked but also seems and seemed like a huge mistake.
First, in making the deal, Ujiri moved off the Raptors' roster Jonas Valanciunas.
Valanciunas, at 27 years of age, just entering his prime could be considered the Raptors most consistent playoff performer over the previous five seasons until Kawhi Leonard arrived.
Marc Gasol is a gifted passer as a big man who plays the game with a high IQ. The problem is at 34 going on 35 years of age his effectiveness and efficiency on the floor has been in decline.
It seemed at the time in February that Ujiri made a mistake. Gasol was leaving a Memphis squad that couldn't score much and he was part of the problem. In fact, in 26 games in Toronto with 19 starts, Gasol averaged 9.1ppg and 6.6rpg. These were hardly impressive stats and well below Marc Gasol’s standards.
His playoff numbers were also not great offensively. However, he did a splendid job shutting down Nikola Vucevic of Orlando, Joel Embiid of Philadelphia, and helping to clog the lane against Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee.
All three of these teams fell victim to the Raptors stifling defense in the playoffs and Gasol was a major contributor even against Golden State in the finals.
While this deal still seems horrible, is that both Gasol and Serge Ibaka play the same position and are getting paid starters money.
Ibaka is owed $23.2 million and Gasol $25.5 million if he chooses to opt into the final year of his contract. It’s obvious he should and will.
It means unless Ujiri makes a deal moving either Gasol or Ibaka and maybe upgrades at the 5 spot with a younger center, through free agency, the Raptors go into 2019-20 with $48 million-plus committed to two centers and one showing signs of aging and decline.