The NBA trade deadline, in case you missed the klaxon, is this Thursday. The Raptors, as you most definitely know, made a big-ass trade in acquiring Serge Ibaka. We’ve yet to see how Ibaka will actually fit with the rest of Toronto’s squad, but the early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The Raptors needed to make a change, and they did.
But who said President Masai Ujiri is done making deals?
Most signs put towards no in that regard, and we’ve got two bits of sourced news suggesting as such. First, in a league-wide summary, Jake Fischer of SI says this of the latest pitches:
League executives expect Toronto to try and make moves on the wing and in the frontcourt. As much as Toronto needs to find depth behind its current frontline, the Raptors are also still skeptical about Jonas Valanciunas. Before they acquired Serge Ibaka, the Raptors called the Pistons pitching a package centered around Valanciunas for Drummond, according to a league source. Toronto is in ultimate win-now mode. They will certainly be interesting to monitor as the deadline approaches.
Now I would argue this is only about 20 percent right, e.g. the Raptors are definitely looking to make moves on the wing. Their only real wing player is DeMarre Carroll (with a slice of Norman Powell). If you like the idea of that entire playoffs load coming down on the [insert sore body part here] of Carroll, you are a person who likes to live dangerously. Ujiri is not that kind of person.
The rest of this seems modestly insane. I’m not saying the Raptors and Ujiri haven’t considered trading Valanciunas, I’m just not sure now is the time to do it. And I know, I know people are going to jump into the comments and tell me Drummond is the superior player — more agile, better finisher at the rim, monstrous rebounder, etc — but I’m not sold the incremental upgrade would be that huge. Drummond has (and probably will never have) any real offensive game, and can’t shoot free throws. With Ibaka now in the fold, the defensive upgrade Drummond would provide over JV feels marginal. The Raptors have frontcourt options now.
And lest we forget: Valanciunas has shown repeatedly that he can dominate in the post-season when given the chance. I feel like the Pacers and Heat are still having PTSD-like flashbacks. Again, not saying Drummond is a bad player, I’m just suggesting that the incremental change between him and JV in the context of the Raptors isn’t large enough to make a deal. Please keep this sentiment in mind.
The other tidbit comes to his from the godhead Zach Lowe himself. To wit:
Toronto and Washington are both eager to add another rotation player, per several league sources. The Raps roster is a little heavy on bigs after the Ibaka deal, and they still have trade chips -- all their own picks, and some interesting young guys. They have the maximum 15 players under contract, but if necessary, they could waive Jared Sullinger to clear a roster spot.
Any deal involving an expensive Drakes veteran will probably wait until the summer, when the team faces a severe luxury tax crunch.
(First, let me get this out of the way: Lowe’s insistence on calling the Raptors the Drakes is now a full-on terrible cringe-inducing Dad joke. It’s brutal and should stop immediately. Call them the Raptors and let’s stop horsing around here.)
The parenthetical aside, Lowe is exactly right here. The Raptors have a lot of little assets to make some sort of move that shores up the roster. The Raptors have a locked in 10-man rotation now, but they also lack that break-glass-in-case-of-emergency player they’ve had in the past (be it John Salmons, Chuck Hayes, or even Jason Thompson, sort of). One more veteran, or a little more shooting, or an ounce more toughness couldn’t hurt.
As I mentioned before, putting all your eggs in the DeMarre basket is still a tad risky on the wing, and while Powell can do a lot, he can’t do everything (yet). It would be smart to make a small move with Sully’s contract and figure out if they can get a gamer to help with the playoff push. Lowe is also right that bigger deals (involving Carroll, Valanciunas, or, say, Cory Joseph) will likely only happen in the off-season.
So that’s where things stand on Tuesday. The deadline is two days away. What do you think will happen?
The Raptors at the Trade Deadline: What's the move?Опубліковано Raptors HQ 12 січня 2017 р.