Teams in big markets have it much better than those in smaller cities to attract talent in free agency. Or so we’ve been told over the years. Is that accurate? We explore that in a series of articles ranking the top free agent acquisitions of NBA teams in the last 25 years.
Today: Toronto Raptors.
10. Hidayet Turkoglu (July 2009)
Stats: 11.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 4.1 apg, 40.9 FG%
Toronto doesn’t typically attract major talent in the summer, so this looked like the biggest hit in free agency history for the franchise when it happened considering Turkoglu was coming off a terrific Finals run with the Magic. Based on expectations, his tenure in Canada was an unmitigated disaster, though. The Turkish forward made it to training camp out of shape and Toronto failed to make the playoffs in his lone season there – which was also Chris Bosh’s last in Canada.
9. James Johnson (July 2014)
Stats: 6.6 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 54.7 FG%
Has fallen in and out of favor with head coach Dwane Casey during his time with the Raptors. At his best, a productive bench player with great strength and athleticism. Didn’t see much of that this season, though.
8. Jamario Moon (July 2007)
Stats: 8.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg
Basically came out of nowhere (obscure minor leagues, then Mexico) to become a solid contributor for one year and a half thanks mostly to his sensational athleticism. Made the All-Rookie 2nd Team at age 27.
7. Jarrett Jack (July 2009)
Stats: 11.3 ppg, 5.0 apg, 46.8 FG%
A friend of Chris Bosh since their days in college at Georgia Tech, Jack split point guard duties with Jose Manuel Calderon in Toronto. The experiment didn’t work out so well and Jack was shipped to New Orleans early in his second season with the Raps.
6. Walt Williams (August 1996)
Stats: 15.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 39.6 3P%
Joined the Raptors on a one-year minimum deal the second season of the franchise’s existence, put up real nice numbers and got himself a five-year, $20 million contract, which was pretty good NBA money back then. Nice outside shooter and rebounder at the small forward position.
5. Tracy Murray (November 1995)
Stats: 16.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 45.4 FG%
Was the No. 2 scorer of the Raptors behind Damon Stoudamire in their first season in the NBA. A terrific outside shooter, Murray averaged career-highs in scoring and rebounding in Toronto.
4. Rafer Alston (January 2003)
Stats: 11.8 ppg, 5.6 apg, 1.2 spg
The streetball legend parlayed a solid season with the Miami Heat into a six-year, $29 million contract with the Raptors in 2005. That would be his second stint in Canada after a call-up from the D-League two years earlier. Although he clashed with head coach Sam Mitchell and went as far as to threaten to quit, Alston was a more than serviceable starting point guard in Toronto.
3. Bismack Biyombo (July 2015)
Stats: 5.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.6 bpg
Finished the season as a hero for the Raptors thanks top-notch play in the playoffs with Jonas Valanciunas sidelined due to injury. Doesn’t have an offensive game, but his defense and rebounding will make him a very rich man. Keeping him in a Toronto jersey may not be affordable for the team.
2. Anthony Parker (July 2006)
Stats: 11.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.6 apg
A superstar in Europe for Israeli powehouse Maccabi Tel Aviv, Parker was a terrific pickup for a then pretty competitive Toronto team. Signed with the franchise as a 31-year-old, so much of the athleticism was gone, but was a very good two-way player for the Raptors regardless.
1. Jose Manuel Calderon (August 2005)
Stats: 10.0 ppg, 7.2 apg, 48.1 FG%
Quite a steal for GM Rob Babcock, who signed him to a cheap deal out of Baskonia in Spain. Calderon was a steady leader at the point guard position for eight years in Toronto and a very popular figure in the locker room. Not the most aggressive playmaker around, the Spaniard was usually near the top of the assist-per-turnover rankings and developed into a very efficient three-point shooter. Merited All-Star consideration early in his tenure with the Raptors.