While the Toronto Raptors are in the 3rd spot in the Eastern conference, they do not have the feel of a true contender. They have two all-stars and a solid complimentary cast, but the roster as constructed struggles with offense against better defenses. The Raptors are 7-12 against teams over .500, the only such team in the top 12 teams in the league. When the Raptors entire team clicks they can contend with anyone: however to increase their chances they might make a move. Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that the Raptors would be aggressive at the deadline.
The Raptors are 2.5 games out of 2nd place and will look to add talent at the trade deadline, per Woj pic.twitter.com/nbmJ73pQlT
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) January 18, 2020
There are options out there that improve the Raptors roster for the present and future. Let’s peruse some possible trades.
1) An Athletic Rebounder
Marc Gasol is an amazing player. He is a great defender who meshes well with the team. If he was younger and on a long term contract then it would be a no brainer to keep him. However he is also an expiring contract, and turned 35 yesterday. While his value to the team goes beyond the stat sheet, Masai Ujiri could look to move him to regain some assets at the deadline, and not let Gasol walk for nothing. This hypothetical trade goes as such:
Pistons receive: Marc Gasol, Patrick McCaw and Raptors 2020 1st Round pick.
Raptors receive: Andre Drummond
Toronto has recorded interest in Drummond in the past, and the Detroit center remains an intriguing option. Both teams gain something from this trade. If Detroit does this and Gasol walks they still get a young piece in McCaw and a late 1st round pick. Both of those things help with a good rebuild. On top of that they get some value for their star, who has stated that he will decline his player option and test free agency. Raptors do this to gain trade value from a solid veteran, and the possibility of adding talent to the roster. Andre Drummond is a player with the ability to get a double double every night. He can’t space the floor, but he brings another level to the team with his defense and rebounding. Second chance points are important, and Drummond leads the league in offensive rebounds with 4.5. The Raptors have enough shooters on the team to cover for Drummond’s lack of spacing, and another player who can somewhat score would be a boon. In terms of contracts, obviously the Raptors would have negotiations with Drummond on a long term deal before pulling the trigger on a trade.
2) An Intriguing Possibility
Talent is wasted in the NBA. There have been plenty of stories about players who lacked the focus or mentality to be great. However, no one mentions how teams handle their players. Sometimes talent is wasted because the organization lacks the talent development or it isn’t the right fit. An example of this would be Domantas Sabonis. After languishing on OKC as a mere role player, Sabonis came to Indiana and developed into a star. Had Sabonis stayed in OKC, he may have never become an All-Star.
Allonzo Trier is a prime example of a forgotten player. After having a solid rookie season in NY, the Knicks have benched the former Wildcat. However it isn’t without good reason: they have drafted Canadian rookie RJ Barrett to fill their SG role. While he had a solid rookie year, this season Trier’s minutes have been slashed. This is due to the seeming desire to develop RJ into a starting caliber shooting guard. While the Raptors are heavy on guards on the roster, Norman Powell has recently gotten injured. Despite Terence Davis and Matt Thomas being solid backup options at the guard slots, I believe that a risk on a young talent who is in the doghouse would be worth the risk.
Knicks receive: Stanley Johnson, 2020 2nd Round Pick, 2023 2nd Round pick
Raptors receive: Allonzo Trier, NYK 2025 2nd Round pick
Allonzo Trier has a good iso game, and a solid 3 point shot. In 22 minutes off the bench for the Knicks during last year’s season, he averaged 39.4% from 3, albeit on 2 attempts a game. This year however, he is only playing 12.3 minutes a game and his 3 point percentage is down to an abysmal 32.6%. His rookie year he flashed scoring potential, but he needs to develop. A rookie averaging almost 11 points in limited minutes should not be simply given up on. Trier deserves to be given a chance, and hopefully he gets one on any team. However if the Raptors were to give him time with their development staff, he can become a solid rotational player. In this trade, Stanley Johnson goes out to match salary, and the Knicks get 1-2 2nd Round picks for a guy that is averaging 12 minutes off the bench, and in return give back a 2nd round pick in the future.
The Raptors don’t have to deal anyone. However they may choose to improve their roster in the future and these are just some of the possibilities.