Toronto Raptors fill out roster with DeAndre’ Bembry, Alex Len signings

DeAndre' Bembry #95 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Norman Powell #24 of the Toronto Raptors in the second half at State Farm Arena. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
DeAndre' Bembry #95 of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Norman Powell #24 of the Toronto Raptors in the second half at State Farm Arena. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors are preparing to run it back next season, making key free agency acquisitions in forward DeAndre’ Bembry and big man Alex Len.

The Toronto Raptors’ first season without Kawhi Leonard wasn’t easy.

Yet you wouldn’t know it from their 53-19 regular season record, or ninth consecutive appearance in the playoffs. No, the true implications of Leonard’s exit (after securing the franchise a championship, mind you) weren’t felt until just recently, at the start of the NBA’s free agency.

While the Raptors did re-sign homegrown guard Fred VanVleet to a four-year deal, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka fled to both Los Angeles teams with hopes of winning another championship. The two veteran bigs were the defensive anchors of last year’s team and left a void in the rotation.

Related Story. 30 greatest free agent signings in NBA history. light

That has since been filled by an eight-year veteran, 2014 champion Aron Baynes, who the team signed to a two-year deal worth $14.3 million per Shams Charania of The AthleticThis left the team with holes only among the outliers of the roster, where contending teams are truly tested.

But the Toronto Raptors entered the offseason without the gravity and star power that surrounds someone like Leonard as an asset to their free agency claims. Their roster as constructed is playoff-caliber, but when guys have one to two seasons left; they’ve got to make hard decisions.

It’s hurt the team’s efforts at bringing in the more noteworthy veteran guys who enter free agency looking for a contending team to join. Kent Bazemore, Jae Crowder, Paul Millsap, Tristan Thompson, and Markieff Morris all could have helped Toronto, to name a few.

Yet that didn’t stop Toronto from finding a pair of value depth pieces, in a market that was all-but barren when Gasol’s deal with the Lakers was reported on Sunday night. The first of these two deals was uncharacteristically broken by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, a Senior NFL Insider.

The Toronto Raptors got on the free agency board

Per Schefter, the Raptors signed forward DeAndre’ Bembry on a two-year deal worth $4 million, with a team option for the 2020-2021 season. The 26-year old forward spent all four years of his career with the Atlanta Hawks, who selected him with the 21st pick of the 2016 NBA Draft.

He finished last season averaging 5.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.3 steals in 43 games played. Offense may not be his strong suit, but Bembry will provide the toughness and defensive IQ that is so longed for along the bench of today’s contending rosters.

But the Raptors didn’t stop there. To back up Baynes, Toronto inked a deal with seven-year veteran and 27-year old center Alex Len. The Athletic’s Shams Charania was first with reports.

Len is coming off of a productive year spent between the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings last season: eight rebounds and 5.8 rebounds per game. With those two signings in the books, let’s take an updated look at the Toronto Raptors starting lineup ahead of next season:

  • G: Kyle Lowry, Malachi Flynn
  • G: Fred VanVleet, Matt Thomas, Jaylen Harris
  • F: OG Anunoby, Norman Powell, DeAndre’ Bembry
  • F: Pascal Siakam, Chris Boucher, Stanley Johnson
  • C: Aron Baynes, Alex Len, Dewan Hernandez

As it currently stands, Toronto is boasting yet another playoff-caliber roster near the conclusion of free agency. Bembry and Len will provide the toughness and experience that leads to positive production before/and once the Raptors make the Eastern Conference playoffs next season.

Similar to other contenders, Masai Ujiri and this Toronto Raptors have made necessary moves to ensure the product they put on the floor next year is competitive and championship capable.

Next. NBA free agency tracker: Grades for every deal. dark