The Toronto Raptors are the only international team in the NBA. The notion is that the whole country of Canada supports the Raptors and it is evident with the turnout during regular season games and especially during the postseason with Jurassic Park outside Scotiabank Arena.
Despite being a fairly young franchise, there have been many highs and lows throughout the years. The Raptors most iconic moment was winning the 2019 championship against the Golden State Warriors.
For the most part, the Raptors have been viewed as a successful franchise and will try to maintain that heading into the 2023-24 season.
While in the dog days of the offseason, let’s go down memory lane and rank the five best free agent signings in Raptors franchise history.
The best players the Raptors signed in free agency:
Tracy Murray signed a contract with Toronto in 1995, which was the first season of Raptors basketball. Murray averaged a career-high in scoring with 16.2 points, shooting 42.2% from 3 and 45.4% from the field in 30 minutes. Murray provided some highlights for a Raptors expansion team that would go on to finish with a 21-61 record.
Bismack Biyombo signed with the Raptors during 2014 free agency on a two-year $6 million deal. At the time he was only 23-years-old and someone that the front office was taking a gamble on. Biyombo averaged 5.5 points, 8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 22 minutes during the 2015-16 season. While the numbers don’t jump out at you, he was an instrumental bench piece for a Raptors team that make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals that season.
After spending some time overseas, Anthony Parker would sign a three-year, $12 million contract with the Raptors and it proved to pay off. Parker averaged 12.4, 12.5 and 10.7 points respectively in his three seasons in Toronto, while shooting it 40% from 3 in 2006-07 and 2007-08. He started every game except nine. Parker was only making about 4$ million annually but gave the Raptors great value as a starter. The Raptors made the playoffs twice in his three seasons, but were eliminated in the first round both times.
Jose Calderon came to Toronto on a team-friendly three-year, $6.99 million contract in 2005-06. Little did the front office know how impactful of a player Calderon would be for the Raptors for years to come. Calderon played seven and a half years in a Raptors jersey. While the team only made the playoffs twice during his tenure, he was a key piece to turning the franchise around. Calderon shot at least 40% from 3 in four seasons and averaged a career-high 12.8 points in the 2008-09 season. Calderon was a savvy and tenacious guard, who led the way for the Raptors through their rebuilding years.
The Raptors signed guard Fred VanVleet to a two-year, $1.45 million contract during 2016 free agency. The 6’1″ guard was a vital piece for the Raptors during their 2018-19 championship season. VanVleet then became a starter for Toronto and made the All-Star game in 2022. That’s when VanVleet averaged a career-high in scoring with 20.3 points per game on 37.7% from three-point range. VanVleet signed a huge three-year, $130-million deal with the Houston Rockets this offseason. The undrafted guard has left his mark on Toronto and he will always be remembered by Raptors fans.