Raptors hope free agents can fill the middle


With training camp less than a week away the Toronto Raptors may be searching the free agent pool to fill a gaping hole in the middle.

In light of recent injuries suffered by the Raptors newly drafted big men, Ed Davis and Solomon Alabi, general manager Bryan Colangelo has been scrambling to find a suitable replacement.

“With the injury to Ed Davis, there has been more talk about adding a big,” Colangelo said Thursday to the Toronto Star.

Davis, the Raptors first-round draft pick in June, sustained a knee injury while playing a pickup game not sanctioned by the team.  In the process he suffered a meniscus tear in his right knee.

The injury required surgery and the former North Carolina Tar Heel won’t be able to resume basketball-related activities for at least six weeks. He also won’t likely see any action for the better part of the first month of games.

Second-round draft choice, Alabi, has missed all of the team’s informal workouts this week with a hamstring injury, and the once crowded Raptors front court is suddenly lacking some much needed size.

In the interim the loss of both youngsters will open an opportunity for power forward, Joey Dorsey, who doesn’t have a guaranteed contract, a chance to make an impression with the coaching staff.

But the absence of the two rookies also opens the door for Colangelo to address what seems to be a constant issue with the Raps – depth at the centre position.

Fortunately, there are a few big bodies available in free agency and the Raptors will be sure to give serious consideration to any potential fit.

Some of the candidates are: Randolph Morris, Brian Cardinal, Josh Boone, Brian Skinner, Fabricio Oberto, Steven Hunter, Primoz Brezec, Earl Barron and restricted free agent Kyrylo Fesenko.

“We probably lack a true five [centre],” Colangelo said. “If there was a true five available, it would fill a potential need.”

The Raptors had inquired on the availability of veteran centre, Erick Dampier, but the 35-year-old has stated he would prefer to play for a contender, with Miami or Houston as his preferred destination.

Having 15 players on guaranteed contracts, the possibility the club signs a player outright is unlikely as the team would be forced to pay someone off in order to waive them.

This leaves the possibility of a trade as a much more viable option.

After a summer where two potential deals fell through for the Raptors, mum is the word, as Colangelo would not speculate on any trade possibilities.

With a $14.5 million [US] trade exception left over from Chris Bosh’s departure the Raps hold an enticing ace in the hole as a bargaining chip in any potential deal.

The club seems in no rush to swing a deal as Colangelo revealed they have no shortage of assets other teams covet, as he found out in conversations with rival GMs.

Holding valuable pieces and the trade exception could possibly land the Raptors much needed help in the middle – at least temporarily.

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