Like any team in the NBA, the Raptors have made their share of transactions. Some have been big, some of been small, some have been small but then become big, and some have been big but then become small. (That about covers it.) With the trade for Serge Ibaka yesterday, it felt like time to go back into the Raptors archives and decide: What is the best trade in Raptors history?
I’ve got a list of my candidates, with a bit of commentary for each. There may be some debate here, but I think this list sums up the absolute highs of the Raptors on the trade market. (Much thanks to Basketball Reference and Real GM for the assist.)
June 24, 1998 - Antawn Jamison was acquired by the Golden State Warriors for Vince Carter
Perhaps the granddaddy of them all in Raptors lore. No offense to Jamison, a productive player for 16 years, but Carter is a singular presence in Toronto basketball history. Without him, uh, there arguably is no Toronto basketball history.
June 25, 1998: Charles Oakley was traded by the New York Knicks with Sean Marks and cash for Marcus Camby.
This one is my personal favourite because Oakley’s presence in Toronto was important for (a) shaping the team’s culture and toughness into something other than a joke, and (b) pushing and also protecting Carter in those early years. Oak is best.
August 1, 1999: Antonio Davis was traded by the Indiana Pacers for Jonathan Bender.
This is, in retrospect, an absolutely insane trade. The Raptors and GM Glen Grunwald got away with trading a top-5 pick, who happened to be a 6’11’’ do-it-all forward, for a 31-year-old undersized centre. Can you imagine if Bender had become the new age forward he was supposed to have been (rather than an injury-wracked mess)?
July 11, 2012 - Kyle Lowry was acquired from the Houston Rockets in exchange for Gary Forbes, a conditional 2013 1st round pick (TOR own) and a TPE.
Note the long break here between 1999 and this trade. The Raptors basically treaded water for a decade plus before making this unheralded move. And notwithstanding the alternate history where Masai Ujiri uses that pick to draft Giannis Antetokounmpo, I think it’s fair to say it worked out quite well.
July 10, 2013 - Andrea Bargnani was acquired by the New York Knicks in exchange for Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Quentin Richardson, a 2014 2nd round pick (OKC own), a 2016 1st round pick (NYK own), a 2017 2nd round pick (NYK own), cash and a TPE.
An astounding addition by subtraction and easily one of the greatest trade hijackings in league history. Bargnani was complete garbage by 2013 and the fact that the Raptors got out from underneath his contract and got useful draft picks from the Knicks will never not be one of the crowning achievements of Ujiri’s legacy.
December 9, 2013 - Quincy Acy, Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and a TPE were acquired by the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Chuck Hayes, Patrick Patterson, John Salmons, Greivis Vasquez and a TPE.
Try to put yourself back in the late-2013 mindset and realize how earth-shaking this trade turned out to be. The Raptors were sliding through yet another forgettable season until this transaction. You can literally pivot all of Raptors history around the words “Rudy Gay Trade.”
June 25, 2015 - Greivis Vasquez was acquired by the Milwaukee Bucks in exchange for the draft rights to Norman Powell, a conditional 2017 1st round pick (LAC own) and a TPE.
Still a small trade in terms of impact, but huge in terms of what it’s meant for the Raptors. Powell represents the first significant time a Raptors second round pick has worked out in the NBA. (P.J. Tucker doesn’t quite count.) We still don’t quite know Powell’s ultimate ceiling, but that they got him for the corpse of Greivis remains impressive.
February 14, 2017 - Serge Ibaka was acquired from the Orlando Magic in exchange for Terrence Ross and a TPE.
Obviously a huge caveat on this one since Ibaka hasn’t played one second yet for the Raptors, but given the state of the team it will have massive repercussions one way or the other.
So which one is the best? Which one is your favourite? Did I miss one (come on, no way!)?