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6 star players the Raptors could sign as free agents in 2021 | Offside – Daily Hive

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After saying goodbye to Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol this offseason, one thing is clear: the Toronto Raptors will be going all-in on free agency next year.

The Raptors reportedly refused to offer either player more than one-year deals in the name of cap flexibility, with a historically-great crop of players potentially available in 2021.

Masai Ujiri will have plenty of options, beginning with his own team. Kyle Lowry is set to become a free agent, while Norman Powell could opt out of the final year of his contract.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the top pending free agents in 2021, with an eye on who the Raptors might throw money at.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

Position: Power forward
Age: 25
2019-20 stats: 29.5 PTS, 13.6 REB, 5.6 AST

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the most sought after free agent in 2021, and there’s a very real possibility that the Raptors could be a top contender to sign him.

Ujiri helped Giannis’ family emigrate from Nigeria to Greece, and the Raptors president wanted to draft him in 2013.

Getting a player of Antetokounmpo’s ability at age 25, in a position the Raptors covet no less, would be a franchise-changer.

2. Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers)

Position: Small forward
Age: 29
2019-20 stats: 27.1 PTS, 7.1 REB, 4.9 AST

He wouldn’t, would he? But what if he did?

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and perhaps after two years in Los Angeles, Kawhi Leonard would like to rekindle some magic back in Toronto.

It’s a long shot, but the Clippers did have a disappointing playoffs and reportedly have a fractured locker room. If the team falls apart again this season, maybe it’s enough for Kawhi to leave as a free agent, as he has a player option for 2021-22.

3. Paul George (LA Clippers)

Position: Shooting guard
Age: 30
2019-20 stats: 21.5 PTS, 5.7 REB, 3.9 AST

If Kawhi wants out of LA, maybe Paul George will too. And if Leonard doesn’t opt for a Toronto reunion, perhaps Ujiri can convince George to come north of the border.

Crazier things have happened.

4. DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs)

Position: Small forward
Age: 31
2019-20 stats: 22.1 PTS, 5.5 REB, 5.6 AST

Speaking of reunions, wouldn’t this be fun? DeMar DeRozan loved his time in Toronto and was heartbroken when the Raptors traded him to San Antonio in 2018. But perhaps that broken heart has been mended.

According to a recent story in GQ, DeRozan and Ujiri made up in the NBA bubble in Orlando. DeRozan gave the Raptors executive a “big hug,” according to Ujiri, who added that he felt they had “reached a new place.”

5. Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)

Position: Centre
Age: 28
2019-20 stats: 15.1 PTS, 13.5 REB, 1.5 AST

Seven-foot-one French centre Rudy Gobert is an intriguing piece. A two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Gobert would fit in well to the Raptors’ commitment to defence.

6. Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)

Position: Shooting guard
Age: 28
2019-20 stats: 14.5 PTS, 3.9 REB, 2.9 AST

Victor Oladipo wants out of Indiana, and openly campaigned for a trade to the Raptors during in front of his teammates last season, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star.

While that’s clearly outrageous, it is an indication that the two-time NBA All-Star wants out of Indiana. Named to the All-Defensive First Team in 2018, Oladipo would help at both ends of the court.

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Harden says he’s ‘forever indebted’ to Houston in farewell message to fans – Sportsnet.ca

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After a dramatic departure out of Houston, James Harden is Brooklyn-bound — but not before bidding farewell to Rockets faithful in a heartfelt post.

Harden bid a final farewell to Houston via Instagram on Friday, saying he’s “forever indebted” to the team and its fans.

“What can I write? What words can convey all the ways I feel,” he wrote in a post that accompanied a highlight reel of his career with the Rockets. “Houston you welcomed me with no guarantees. Took a leap of faith and it changed my life and the lives of my family forever. This organization, this city has given me everything I could ask for and more. Before the scoring titles long before MVP you believed. For that I am forever indebted.”

During his eight-year Houston tenure, Harden was a three-time scoring champ and earned MVP honours in 2017-18. Despite being paired with fellow stars like Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook in recent years, Harden was never able to propel the Rockets beyond the Western Conference Finals — a regret he noted in Friday’s goodbye address, which concluded with an interest note, adding that it’s “far from a good bye as I pay all my debts.”

“The city opened its arms and welcomed me and my family as one of its own and for that I am forever indebted,” Harden continued. “I gave my mind body and soul in hopes of bringing the glory to the city. I fell short and for that I am forever indebted. It’s far from a good bye as I pay all my debts. TMC H Town!”

Harden’s time with Houston came to a dramatic end on Wednesday, after what began as speculation that he wanted out swiftly became a “crazy” situation that Harden told reporters was something “I don’t think can be fixed.”

He now heads to the Brooklyn Nets following this week’s blockbuster deal, reuniting with old OKC teammate Kevin Durant and fellow Nets star Kyrie Irving to chase the championship that has so far eluded him.

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Nets’ Kyrie Irving fined $50K for violating health and safety protocols – Sportsnet.ca

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NEW YORK — Kyrie Irving‘s absence from the Brooklyn Nets has cost him nearly $1 million.

The NBA fined the point guard $50,000 on Friday for violating its health and safety protocols, and said he could return to team activities Saturday.

The league added that he would forfeit his salary for each game he misses during a five-day quarantine period that would end Saturday if he continues to test negative for the coronavirus. He’s already missed two, which means he has lost more than $900,000 of his $33.5 million salary.

Irving has missed the last five games while away from the Nets for personal reasons. He was seen in a video on social media during his absence at an indoor family party while not wearing a mask.

The league’s protocols prohibit attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments.

Irving is the second player to be fined for that. The other is his new teammate, James Harden.

The Nets have not explained the reasons for Irving’s absence, leaving it to him to do when he returns. Their next game is Saturday against Orlando.

“Without a doubt, the organization’s disappointed with not having any one of our players, in this particular case Kyrie, not amongst us, not in the trenches with us and so forth,” general manager Sean Marks said Thursday during a news conference to discuss the trade for Harden.

“So I don’t want to speculate and say why he’s out and so forth. I’ve had conversations with him and I’ll continue to have conversations and we look forward to him being back in the gym, where he will address this.”

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Charles Barkley, Shaq react to James Harden's trade to the Nets during 'NBA on TNT' – Yahoo Canada Sports

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The Canadian Press

Canadian Mark-Anthony Kaye elected to MLS Players Association executive board

Canadian international Mark-Anthony Kaye has been elected to the Major League Soccer Players Association executive board. The 26-year-old Los Angeles FC midfielder, along with Jalil Anibaba (Nashville SC) and Victor Ulloa (Inter Miami CF), was elected to a three-year term. The executive board serves as the decision- and policy-making body of the Players Association with its members serving as the MLSPA’s chief officers. “The leadership and hard work of our executive board members, both past and present, has made the MLSPA into what it is today,” MLSPA executive director Bob Foose said in a statement. “I want to congratulate our newest board members, and those who are returning, and thank them for their commitment to serving their fellow players and continuing to grow and improve the MLSPA.” Foose thanked departing board members Jeff Larentowicz and Luis Robles. Other current members of the executive board are Scott Caldwell (New England Revolution), Ethan Finlay (Minnesota United), Clint Irwin (Colorado Rapids), Eric Miller (Nashville) and Patrick Mullins (Toronto FC). The MLS and MLSPA are currently at loggerheads over the league’s decision to trigger a “force majeure” clause in the collective bargaining agreement to reopen negotiations on the CBA signed in January 2019. The league has said it lost nearly US$1 billion last season due to the global pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15. 2021 The Canadian Press

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