Rumblings regarding potential upgrades in the frontcourt have circulated the Toronto Raptors seemingly all season long. However, as was ultimately expected by most, Masai Ujiri let the trade deadline pass without making any changes to his roster - a roster that has powered the franchise to its best start ever.
And while concerns over the sturdiness of Amir Johnson's ankles, Patrick Patterson's interior defense and Terrence Ross' regression are valid, Ujiri probably did the right thing by holding on to his assets and preaching patience in his mission to build a legitimate title contender.
As it stands right now, the second-seeded Raptors are still behind the Hawks, Cavs and Bulls in terms of overall talent, and would need a miraculous amount of luck to squeak into the NBA Finals in 2015.
The difference between the team as currently built compared to what it would be with Wilson Chandler, David West - or any other realistic rumoured trade target - wouldn't be great enough to catapult the Raptors into the class of their three superiors. Not to mention, such a deal would deplete the cap flexibility and draft picks the Raptors have at their disposal heading into a pivotal off-season.
Even without making a move, there is a chance the Raptors can turn this season into a more resounding success than was ever expected. If the match-ups break favourably (perhaps a 2 vs.7 match-up with Charlotte in round one followed by a 2 vs. 3 run-in with Washington or an unhealthy Chicago in round two) there remains a chance that the Raptors could reach their first conference final in team history.
Thursday's wild flurry of trades by the East's fringe playoff teams may complicate things though.
Heading into the All-Star break, the assumption was that the top three seeds in the East would coast through a breezy first round match-up while the fourth and fifth seeds engaged in a bloodbath of a series, sending a very good team home early.
But with the Miami Heat completing a blockbuster move to secure Goran Dragic, giving up only Shawne Williams, Danny Granger's mangled knees and Norris Cole's horrendous 38.6% shooting clip, the road to the second round and beyond might be slightly more treacherous for Toronto, even if they grab a top-three seed.
Miami isn't loaded with the kind of bench depth the Raptors possess, and they have been a banged-up bunch; only Mario Chalmers has played every game for the Heat this year.
At the same time, even with the unfortunate circumstances arising around Chris Bosh’s health, a Heat line-up featuring Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, and Hassan Whiteside would present a host of problems for the Raptors in a playoff series.
Whiteside’s presence on the boards (15.8 REB/36 minutes) and the scoring ability of Dragic and Wade from the backcourt are both elements that can exploit the Raptors’ biggest weaknesses over the course of seven games.
The Heat would by no means be a favourite in a series with the Raptors, especially given Toronto’s raucous home court, but the competition would be incredibly stiff.
Keep in mind: Toronto’s starting-five boast a combined 89 games of playoff experience. Wade has played in 152 playoff games alone – and the rest of the roster is laden with savvy, seasoned veterans.
Does that remind anyone of a certain 2014 playoff series?