Re-signing with the Toronto Raptors was a no-brainer for Chris Boucher.
The Montreal native, Toronto’s top free agent, returned late Wednesday night from vacation to make his new multi-year deal official at a team media conference on Thursday.
“I knew I wanted to be in Toronto. I feel like I was building something,” said Boucher. “Masai (Ujiri) and Bobby (Webster) did a good job to show me that they wanted me to stay here and show me my role, and it’s all the things I really wanted to do. It’s not like I was looking somewhere else or to be somebody else.”
Boucher, 29, has played a key role for the Raptors since joining the team in 2018-2019 as a versatile offensive weapon and a shot blocker.
The six-foot-10 centre averaged 9.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game off the bench for Toronto, which finished fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, before falling to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.
Boucher did not see himself with a new contract in Toronto earlier this season, after a shaky start for both the Raptors and himself.
“The first 20 games, no. It didn’t look nice at the beginning,” he said. “Hearing about the trade deadline and all of that — the year before I saw Norman (Powell), he was playing well and still got traded.
“So I’m like, ‘If I’m not playing well, I might not get traded but I might get waived.’ It kind of helped us out too, to find a way to get better.”
Despite his early-season struggles, what he has shown over the course of his four years with the Raptors was not lost on other teams who showed an interest in him during his brief time as a free agent.
“I think it really helped me realize how far I came. The role that I’ve shown people I was able to do and the intangibles I bring to a team — a lot of teams probably saw that during the playoffs,” said Boucher.
“The versatility that I have, hearing from other teams that they could see it, that definitely was a good thing for me.”
While acknowledging the work that still needs to be done on his end, the once undrafted Boucher feels as though another Finals run is in store, which if it happens, would be a first for Toronto since it won the NBA title in 2019.
“Last year, they got us thinking we’re not making the playoffs, and we made it. That’s the next push for us, trying to get to the Finals and win a championship,” he said.
Boucher spent the majority of his first season with the Raptors 905 in the G League, where he earned Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year honours.
Two years later, he re-signed with the Raptors on a two-year deal worth $13.5 million — the richest contract in NBA history by an undrafted Canadian player at the time.
Boucher enjoyed a career year in 2020-2021, averaging 13.6 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. He also shot a career-best 38.3 per cent from three-point range.
“Chris epitomizes hard work and perseverance. He has shown us that he values being a member of this team through his commitment to continual improvement, and finding ways to impact winning on the court,” general manager Bobby Webster said in a statement.
“Even after his successes last season, he has told us he’s not satisfied — and that mindset is why we’re excited to welcome him back to Toronto.”