With recent trade rumours looming around the league, the Toronto Raptors have emerged as one of the front-runners as a trade destination from now, until the trade deadline.
What’s interesting, and has sparked debate amongst the Raptor faithful, is the names that have appeared to be targets for the Raptors.
“From what I understand, from what I’m hearing, they’re pretty aggressive in the trade market. They’re looking for power forwards. I’ve heard them attached to Thaddeus Young, I’ve heard them attached to Kenneth Faried, I’ve heard them attached to Markieff Morris.” – Brian Windhorst
That quote came from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, after being on TSN 1050 on Friday, and after another ESPN reporter, Marc Stein, reported that the Raptors were interested in the Phoenix Suns‘ forwards, Markieff Morris, and PJ Tucker.
So far, names that have either been reported, or have been in rumblings that the Raptors have targeted, consist of Kenneth Faried, Thaddeus Young, Markieff Morris, PJ Tucker, and Ryan Anderson. Each player brings something to the Raptors if any of them are acquired before and or at the trade deadline.
The Raptors are clearly in a win-now mode, however still with a roster full of young, high-potential players, which makes the risk of trading for a name mentioned above less, well, risky. Of course, there are the questions of who the Raptors will have to forfeit in order to receive one of the aforementioned names, but that’s a completely different question to be answered for a another time.
A few of the Raptors Cage authors took to their keyboards, and gave their pick of available players that fits best.
In terms of a target for the trade deadline, I’d take former Raptors’ draft pick PJ Tucker. A 6’6 bully on the defensive end with no sense of when to back down. Tucker is the type of player you hate to play against, but love to have on your team. After the Raptors matchup with the Sun’s, DeMar DeRozan stated that it was ‘fun’ having Tucker draped all over him, because it allowed DeRozan to actually put in work.
The Raptors would have to part with a prospect (say Anthony Bennett), a pick, and cash considerations to make a trade like this work. In turn, it develops the Raptors back end talent as Tucker could come in as a serviceable 9th or 10th man. This would also help develop some of our other wings ability to play under immense pressure with the internal competition that Tucker will provide in practices, should he make his return north of the border.
Not saying that Tucker is the type of player that will take the Raptors to the next level, but he’s the type of player that will allow Toronto to have an heir of defensive sustenance when the offense decides to take a day off. With the Raptors developing so many young prospects, another veteran who plays with his heart on his sleeve could only help.
If the Raptors were to go out and make a deadline trade, there are a few players that are intriguing, but a name that really interests me, is Thad Young. Young is a long and athletic four-man, who can also play some time at the three as well, which would be very helpful for the time that Carroll is out. Young is versatile in the way where he handles the ball well for a power forward, and has the ability to create for himself – scoring inside and attacking off the dribble. He could add another option along with Kyle Lowry and Demar on the offensive department, relieving some of their major offensive duties.
He is by no means an elite shooter, but he runs the floor very well and shows strong finishing ability. He is also very nice in the pick and roll game; I feel he would thrive in that situation with Lowry, and at times Cory. He is a strong rebounder, both offensively and defensively (currently at 9.0 per game) and shows a lot of upside defensively both on the ball, and as a help defender. He is the type of guy I could see Masai Ujiri and Dwane Casey really liking a lot, and would be a big addition to this current Raptors team.
I’ll begin by saying if the Raptors are to make any deals, they should only be moves that improve the team substantially as opposed to incrementally. For a team that has won 12 of their past 13, making a move for the sake of making one would probably cause more damage to the team chemistry and the fluency of the rotation, than result in any noticeable improvement on the court. That’s why PJ Tucker isn’t the guy for the job. Unless it’s a straight swap for James Johnson, there aren’t any assets worth giving up for a guy that will do the job marginally better than the Luis Scola/Patrick Patterson duo has been doing.
Similarly, Thad Young doesn’t move the needle for us either, especially if we have to give up Ross, Patterson, or Scola to get him because we’d then be down another shooter. For all the intangibles that Young brings, unless he’s the guy you think is the answer long term at power forward, giving up any assets to get him and be committed to his multi-year contract only limits the long term potential of this team’s core unit. Let’s be clear, Thaddeus Young is not the guy for the job. If you aren’t either a good passer/playmaker or shooter at the SF or PF, then you aren’t the guy for the Raptors job.
The roster begins and ends with the Lowry/DeRozan backcourt, and in order to maximize the effectiveness of this tandem we must surround them with great shooters and play making talents. That’s why my ideal targets are Markieff Morris (longtime fan) or Ryan Anderson. I’m not even a Ryan Anderson fan, but unless the Pelicans want something ridiculous for him, this is definitely the gym for the job.
He is a flat out force on the perimeter and he has been successful on high-calibre, defensively potent teams before. The reason why I feel he’s the right one to take a chance on is because he’s sufficiently talented enough to move the needle on the overall strength of the teams offense. This isn’t a squad built on great defensive players, in fact this roster is comprised mostly over average-at-best defenders — which is what Anderson is as well. But, this guy would have a major impact on our offense and it would make everyone’s life easier in the system. He’d instantly become the best shooter on the team, and he’d be getting even more open shots. As long as Casey’s system defensively doesn’t change, then neither will the effectiveness of our defence. I mean, this is the same team that is starting the Luis Scola/Jonas Valanciunas frontcourt, remember?
For Morris, the impact isn’t nearly as great but he’s purely just a more talented player than the other prospects. He can handle the ball, facilitate respectably, create his own shot, guard his man, finish around the basket, and hit the three. Plug him in the starting line up and we have a tough, multifaceted interior/perimeter threat alongside our star backcourt, and defenses will have to pick their poison. I’ve long felt that he has star potential and what better situation for him to reveal this?
At this point, the Raptors can only afford to make moves that help them substantially. With that being said, PJ Tucker is a guy that plays good, hard nosed defense and brings energy to your unit. He’s not offensively potent, but that’s okay, because we have a pretty good offence going between our backcourt and then some for the rest of the team. I don’t really see any of the five mentioned guys helping us out drastically, because none of them are particularly good shooters.
The ideal trade target for the Raps is a stretch 4 who can play tough interior defense while also being able to lock down the perimeter. Morris is good, but I don’t think he’s the long term answer for us. He’s got some attitude issues and with our chemistry right now, the last thing we need is a personality like his on the team. Thad Young was the guy I initially went with, but as I looked at his stats, it’s clear he’s not a very good, or even average, 3 point shooter. I feel as though a guy that could be had for a decent price is Tobias Harris. The guy is a good rebounder, can shoot the ball and isn’t a bad defender. I might be out of my mind but in order for Canada’s team to push the Cavs out of first place, the boys up north need to play out of their minds, and Tobias Harris is a guy we should definitely inquire about.
First, consider one of the Raptors’ main concerns: productivity, consistency, and talent at the four-spot. One guy who definitely addresses that issue, is Thaddeus Young. Sure, not the best of defenders – would say he’s along the same lines as Patterson – but is a very strong rebounder, and offensively, is versatile and productive. Behind Lowry and DeRozan, he’d make a perfect third option to relieve the all-star backcourt from their offensive pressures, and can sway defenses to start paying attention to him. Yes, the Raptors would likely give up a little bit to acquire a guy like Thaddeus Young, but look at his numbers:
Young has put up a solid stat-line for a team that has been plagued with dysfunction and poor play, averaging 15.0 points, 9.0 rebounds (career-high), and approximately 51% from the field. Despite poor shooting from the perimeter, and a negative +/- (Brooklyn Nets one of the worst teams in the league, mind you), he’s shown he’s capable outside of the line, and can be a major positive for a team that is running in the right direction.
That’s the problem with Brooklyn, he’s in a position where he’s a focal point of what the team does on both ends — he’s not that guy. He’d fit perfectly into this system as a third option, to relieve the backcourt, and add consistent production from the frontcourt. A lot of the guys have mentioned that they don’t want to commit to him long term, however, whatever way the Thaddeus Young project ends, he’s got a bargain of a contract with the new salary cap increase in the off-season; four-year deal – including this season – making $54 million (approximately $13.5 million a year).
From what the guys have discussed, clearly, no consensus name for the authors. Young, Tucker, Morris, Anderson, and even Harris were the trends of the round-table; interestingly enough, no taste for Faried.
Whatever it is Masai Ujiri decides to do from now until the deadline, the entire league thinks that the Raptors are going be aggressive during this annual whirlwind of a time in the league. Whether or not the reported names are truly targets for the Raptors, or even realistic at this point, remains to be seen. All we can do is speculate, but one thing is for certain; the Raptors would welcome some sort of upgrade.