Do the Toronto Raptors need to make a trade? Yes, no, maybe, I don’t know. No one wants to blow up this Raptors core that exceeded expectations last season. Currently, the Raptors are 14-7 coming off a loss to the Cavs after beating the banged-up Grizzlies, Lakers, and Hawks. To answer this question, you must first ask another question. Can the Raptors win a title this season with this collection of players? If the answer is no, the next question would be can you keep this group of players together and still have the flexibility to add significant pieces. It’s not impossible the Raptors can win an NBA title this season, but it’s extremely unlikely. If the Raptors somehow got by the Cavs in the playoffs they would still have to face an elite team from the Western Conference like the Warriors or Spurs.
The Raptors need to make a trade. Windows don’t stay open all the time and neither will the Raptors’. Kyle Lowry will be a free agent this summer and it’s far from a lock the Raptors bring him back. He will be 31 years old and be looking for that last long-term lucrative deal. If the Raptors gave him a 5-year max that would likely become an impossible deal to move as Lowry begins to decline. But maybe Lowry won’t decline in his mid-30s, right? Well, his body has already started to break down. Over the last two seasons, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy heading into the playoffs. So if it’s unclear as to whether Lowry will be back next season, the Raptors need to go all-in now because this might be the best team they have ever had.
What do the Raptors need?
The Raptors have needed a power forward for a few years now. The Raptors signed Jared Sullinger this summer, but he hasn’t played in a regular season game yet because he had foot surgery. No one wants to hear Jared Sullinger is the Raptors deadline acquisition. We heard that marketing speak last season when Carroll returned from injury and he never got to be 100%. Patrick Patterson is fine, but he’s best used playing a cap of 25 minutes per game as a role player. Sullinger and Patterson are both free agents at the end of the year, so the Raptors need to find a long-term solution for this position anyways.
Who becomes available at the deadline?
Your guess is as good as mine. My theory is if a star becomes available you always must make an offer. Maybe, DeMarcus Cousins becomes available and the Raptors should make an offer, but the odds are low they land him with 29 other teams ready to make an offer. So if the Raptors are unlikely to get Cousins what names do they have a shot at? Serge Ibaka comes to mind. Raptors tried to trade for him in the summer, but the Magic made a godfather offer for him. It’s clear the Magic have too many big men and it is now affecting the develop of Aaron Gordon. Ibaka will be a free agent this summer and it’s hard to imagine the Magic double down and offer him a max deal. If they decide to cut-bait the Raptors could offer a package of Delon Wight, Bruno Caboclo, Jared Sullinger (expiring), and a first round pick. The Magic aren’t sold on Elfrid Payton, so getting Wright and a pick would give them some flexibility. If the Magic are going to let Ibaka walk this summer anyways they would be better off dealing him for something even if it makes them look bad by taking less than what they have up for Ibaka. On the other hand, if the Magic say they are committed to Ibaka beyond this season maybe they would be willing to trade Aaron Gordon. He’s having a disappointing season playing out of position and if the Magic decide they want to keep Ibaka long-term I don’t see how that changes. The offer that I think would make sense for Aaron Gordon is Delon Wright, Pascal Siakam, Bruno Caboclo, and both first round picks (Raptors and Clippers). Now that may sound like a lot, but the draft picks are likely to fall in the 20-30 range, so they aren’t extremely coveted. Furthermore, Delon Wright is currently still injured and it’s hard to know if he will ever be more than a backup. Next, Pascal Siakam has looked okay for the 27th pick, but now is probably the time to sell him as his ceiling is very limited. Finally, Bruno Caboclo may be less than two years away, but I don’t know what that means. He might one day be able to be an end of the bench guy, but if can’t even be that now it’s okay to move from him.
What are some other players the Raptors could target at the deadline?
My list consists of Derrick Favors (Jazz), Marvin Williams (Hornets), Nikola Mirotic (Bulls), Marcus Morris (Pistons), and Zach Randolph (Grizzlies). Favors is currently injured. Now is the time you try and swoop in and steal him. Mirotic has been a disappointment for the Bulls, but at the same time, they aren’t using him effectively. I’m always in favor of the buy low. Marcus Morris has been inconsistent for the Pistons, but he’s on a good contract and could be the long-term replacement for Patterson. Zach Randolph is reaching the end of his career, but his playoff experience and his toughness have value.
Do the raptors need to make a trade? Who do you think they should target?