Please file this one away under "Interesting Raptors trade speculation" (and then I swear, move on with your day).
According to Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops, Raptors GM Masai Ujiri has been after Portland Trailblazer Nicolas Batum for some time now. Who knew? To quote Mr. Sheridan:
- I expect the Toronto Raptors to make a hard push for a power forward who can score more easily than the Amir Johnson/Patrick Patterson combo, but it would surprise me if Masai Ujiri can pull something off. But also keep this in mind about Ujiri: He has been trying to get his hands on Nicolas Batum for ages, and he will give up just about anything to land the French forward.
Three things of note to take away from this little tidbit:
1) Coupled with the David West-for-Terrence Ross rumour, it definitely appears as though the Raptors are at least glancing around for front court scoring help. Given the fact that Jonas Valanciunas is their only real scoring threat in the post, and that he can't quite stay on the court in crunch time, these feelers from Ujiri are not surprising.
2) Again and again we keep hearing how unlikely it'll be for the Raptors to pull off a trade. They do have a few salary dump assets (hello Landry Fields!), but in terms of tangible talent, only Ross moves the needle. At the very least, a trade by the Raps this year would probably be a shoring-up-the-bench type move and not a blockbuster.
3) Hmm, Nicolas Batum? Obviously, if what Sheridan says is true, one would assume that Ujiri is looking for 2011-2014 Batum and not the most recent iteration. This year, poor Nicolas has been lost in a funk so profound, I'm surprised Blazers fans haven't started sending nightly care packages to his house. (Wait, or have they?) At the very least, Ujiri would be buying super low on Batum, a do-it-all wing who is still only 26 years old.
Portland's situation, while not identical, has some similarities with that of Toronto. Both teams have solid identities, both have built up a bench where previously there had been none, and both are playoff bound teams that appear a notch or two away from true title contention. Most importantly, both have great locker room chemistry (to say nothing of their actual trade assets), which makes completing a worthwhile deal really tough.
Still, we Raptors fans can wonder. What do you guys think?