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A 33 year old New Zealander and a 27 year old St. Lucianer, who grew up in Montreal, are now the centers of an NBA franchise in Toronto that will play their home games to kick off next season in Florida.
You replace a Spaniard and a Raptor from the Republic of the Congo with the Raptors, and end a dizzying day of news on and off the square.
A hurricane weekend of tall men on the move came to an end on Sunday evening when Toronto replaced Aron Baynes and Saint Lucia-Montreal with New Zealand product Chris Boucher to replace Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, who are now rivals in Los Angeles.
The Raptors also have little striker DeAndre ‘Bembry for two years for $ 4 million (U. . S.. . ) Deal according to ESPN. The 26-year-old has spent parts of the past four seasons at Atlanta.
Baynes will receive a two-year contract worth about $ 14, according to sources who were granted anonymity because the transactions weren’t officially approved by the league. Boucher’s two-year contract is valued at $ 13 million. 5 million, although the second year is not guaranteed.
The financial ramifications of the deals should allow Toronto still enough headroom to be a serious player in a class of free agencies for Banner 2021, a long-term goal of President Masai Ujiri and General Manager Bobby Webster. It should also keep Toronto under the luxury tax threshold for the 2020-21 season, though those calculations won’t complete until the last day of the regular season.
What it’s doing on the basketball front is a seismic shift for Toronto. Gasol and Ibaka were the mainstays of Toronto’s 2019 NBA championship run, Gasol as the accomplished, ball-moving veteran who unlocked much of the Raptors offensive, and Ibaka as the tough, deep-shooting big who has just had the best season of his career.
Neither Baynes nor Boucher will come close to repeating what Gasol and Ibaka gave the Raptors, but they are not stiffeners.
Baynes is a strong defender averaging 11. 5 points and 5. 6 rebounds per game with Phoenix last season, while four attempts per game resulted in 35 percent being shot out of three-point range. He has neither Ibaka nor Gasol pedigree, but he is a usable tall man on a team led by a core of Kyle Lowry, Fred Van Vleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Norm Powell.
While Baynes won’t be a ball-dominating big man, his rim protection and toughness are badly needed on a smaller squad in Toronto.
Boucher should be given a chance in regular minutes now. The lanky center / forward has shown very limited lightning bolts over the past two seasons with the Raptors and the team is hoping he will grow into a bigger role that is now available to him.
The departures of Gasol and Ibaka end the biggest two-season run in franchise history and each played major roles.
The acquisition of Gasol in February 2018 marked Ujiri and Webster’s final bold blow in building a squad that would win an NBA title four months later. The 35-year-old was the best big man passing by in Toronto and he was the anchor for a defense that was in the league’s top 5.
It also went perfectly with the space. Completely professional and only concerned with team success, his selfless attitude fits perfectly into the culture of Toronto. He is best remembered for his vinous, over-the-top celebration during the team’s championship parade, which made him iconic among fans.
Petrol slowed significantly in the shortened 2019-20 season, plagued by injuries and not really able to return to full speed in the playoff bubble.
Ibaka achieved the same iconic status during his relatively short tenure in Toronto. His development since arriving at a dealership for Terrence Ross in February 2017 was something to see. He came to a tentative and somewhat reluctant addition, unsure of where he fit into the organization’s plans and what position he would play. He turned into an integral part of a championship team – his best rim protector, a tall man with a deep shooting range, a persistent defender, and a mentor to the team’s young players like Anunoby and Terence Davis II.
He thrived off the field and became one of the team’s favorite players, able to connect with fans at various levels.
His YouTube cooking show « How Hungry Are You? » was a huge success – sautéed worms for DeMar DeRozan, pizza with a bull penis for Kawhi Leonard were unforgettable – and his « How Bored Are You? » social media hits at the start of the pandemic were entertaining.
With its fashionable activities and presence, Ibaka was a fun part of a list that was one of the best mixes of basketball talent and personalities in Toronto in years.
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Toronto Raptors, Aron Baynes, Chris Boucher, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Marc Gasol, Boston Celtics, Serge Ibaka, NBA
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