...IT MUST BE NBA TRADE DEADLINE DAY!
So far the names indeed haven't exactly been of a Kevin Love or even Pau Gasol variety, but things are indeed underway as clubs desperate to make the playoffs add last-minute pieces (Cleveland) and lottery bound clubs look to continue to increase their long-term fortunes (Philadelphia.)
For the Toronto Raptors, things have been fairly quiet aside from some Rajon Rondo and Kenneth Faried whispers earlier this week. That doesn't mean the club won't make a deal at the last minute, but if I had to put money down, I'd say this afternoon's deadline passes without any of us hearing a peep from the Dinos.
1) Team Chemistry: In pro sports, "team chemistry" is often thrown around as a reason why clubs have, or have not been performing at a high level. It's an amorphous term for the most part, but that doesn't mean it should necessarily be discounted. Suffice to say that right now, the Raptors are winning more often than losing, the players on the team are a good fit both on and off the court, and the club appears to be closer to a 10 than a 1 on the "team chemistry scale."
Therefore it's hard to see the logic in breaking this thing up unless some short or long term gains clearly exist.
That's why the Rajon Rondo rumours are a bit hard to fathom unless the Raptors are sure that Kyle Lowry is walking come July, and why moving Kyle Lowry at all considering his play etc, seems like a giant risk, partly because of...
2) The Current State of the Eastern Conference: Any trades made, can't be viewed in a vacuum. Besides potentially upgrading your current or future roster, another consideration has to be how the trade impacts your club in relation to your competition.
For the Toronto Raptors, they're currently in a strange place. They're not on the same level of Miami or Indiana, but as presently composed, are probably good enough to finish right after those clubs in the decrepit East. It's hard to see any minor moves making much difference in that gap, so the options are more likely to stand pat, take a step back (for potential future gain) or do something big in effort to get to that Pacers/Heat level.
Here's the problem.
To get to said level, Toronto would likely need to swing a giant deal, one that I'm not sure they have the pieces to pull off to being with, or one that would likely equate to selling the future farm for a chance at present success. Bryan Colangelo doesn't work at the ACC any more so it's hard to imagine such a move going down.
And taking a step back?
Let's play such a scenario through.
Forget salaries for a moment but say the Knicks now decide to give up Tim Hardaway Jr and a future first-round pick for Kyle Lowry. Lowry goes to New York, and Toronto obviously stumbles in the standings. But do they fall out of the playoffs completely? Considering the club's schedule the rest of the way and their current record, I'm not sure that happens so forget thoughts of Wiggins and Parker, or even Gordon and Ennis. Maybe a move like that made sense when Rudy Gay was still hitting 8 of his 26 shots a night, but that door closed a while ago.
As for the "bounty" received from New York, I'm not sure about you, but I'm not that enthused about Hardaway Jr. And who knows about a Knicks' first-round pick in like 2019. Lowry has been the best point guard in the conference this year so again, unless the club is sure they won't be able to keep Kyle, or there's a definite benefit to moving him now, it's hard to believe he, or any of the other key Raptors, go anywhere. There have been a lot of articles written about the lack of suitors for someone like Lowry in particular so could Toronto even reap a huge haul at this point?
Which of course leaves standing pat as the lone option and which brings me to...
3) The Club's Current Personnel. The Raptors' roster isn't perfect, but it does have a pretty good mix of personnel types right now. The team has some size and toughness in Hansbrough, Valanciunas and Hayes, three-point shooting from Lowry, Novak, Ross, and even Patterson, wing athleticism (DeRozan), solid point guard play, etc, etc.
Sure, the club could use another big and another wing scorer would be nice etc, but as they say, you gotta give something up to get something back. Right now Toronto needs all of the aforementioned pieces that it has, and the peripheral players like Landry Fields aren't likely fetching any big returns.
So I think the deadline passes in Toronto and the roster sits as presently composed. To get notably better in the short term, the team likely has to sacrifice a ton in the long-term, and minor adjustments either won't make enough of a difference in the grand scheme of things, or could potentially back-fire if it means moving some of the core rotation that's worked so well together the past few months. Therefore I'm thinking Masai Ujiri hangs up the phones and waits till the off-season before moving any more pieces around.
Of course the moment I post this, I fully expect Twitter to light up with news that the Raptors have shipped out Amir Johnson...