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HQ Roundtable: The NBA trade deadline, the buyout market, and more

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As trade season nears its end, the HQ Roundtable panel discuss if the Raptors should make a move or sign a player on the buyout market.

Toronto Raptors HQ Roundtable: The trade deadline, the buyout market, and more! Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Hello and welcome to a special edition of the HQ Roundtable! I am Sully Akbari — your host for this weekly series. Joining me this week are Conor McCreery and Thomas Mooney. This week’s edition consists of what the Raptors and other teams should do at Thursday’s trade deadline, as well as who the Raptors should pursue in the buyout market. We also predicted how All-Star team captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will select their teams ahead of tomorrow’s draft.

A lot on hand, so let’s jump in!

On the Raptors:

1) Do the Raptors need to be all-in this season, regardless of future cost?

Sully Akbari: The only all-in move to sacrifice the future the Raptors should make is for Anthony Davis. It’s the only logical move to go all-in and it’s a pretty damn good one. On top of losing young and skilled assets, yes, there are emotional attachments to the potential out-going players in Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka/Jonas Valanciunas, OG Anunoby, and Delon Wright, but this is Anthony Davis we’re talking about. You have to make this move. A core of Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis and either one of Serge Ibaka or Jonas Valanciunas would be lethal.

Even with Davis and his team saying that they will only sign an extension with the Lakers, Toronto should still make the move because if it doesn’t work out, they can flip Davis the following season as he is under contract, and either build around Kawhi Leonard if he stays, or accelerate the rebuilding phase if Leonard leaves by getting young assets and picks in return. No matter how you look at it, it’s a big risk, big return move.

Conor: Whew. This is the question, isn’t it? To me, the answer is yes. I touched on this already, but the Kawhi Leonard move demands that Masai Ujiri takes a swing for the fences. Now, that may not be Anthony Davis. It could be something like adding Mike Conley because he’s playing better than Lowry is right now, and right now is what matters in Toronto.

If Masai goes all-out and the Raps get to the finals, or win it, or gets Kawhi to stay, then it’ll have been a huge win for the franchise. If they don’t and Kawhi loses, at the very least Toronto fans can content themselves that the reason they “failed” isn’t because their GM was too small for the moment. In the long-run, that might mean more than any trade.

Thomas Mooney: Only for the right move should the Raptors be all-in this summer. They need the show Kawhi that they’ll do what it takes to win a championship, but the only deal that makes them considerably better is one for Anthony Davis. We’ve seen the rumours about guys like Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, and there’s a large group of fans that want Bradley Beal, but I don’t think those move the needle enough to give up on a scenario where you have to rebuild without Pascal Siakam.

2) Which player (not named Anthony Davis) should the Raptors be targeting at the deadline?

Sully: Not named Anthony Davis? Well, I am going to keep this short, I don’t believe the Raptors should make a trade but instead to pursue players on the buyout market.

Conor: Mike Conley. He’s playing better than Kyle is. His ceiling isn’t much lower. And he’ll never have played on as good a team. I’d love to get Jrue Holiday, but I don’t really think he’s in play, and all of the other guys being discussed simply aren’t needle movers. Masai should try to make those moves (I’d actually like a Terrence Ross reunion, now that he’s added the pull-up three to his game), but if Kyle Lowry can’t find KLOE then improving the bench isn’t going to matter.

Thomas: I think it’s more likely that the Raptors are targeting someone to bolster their bench than go all in for a superstar player. If that’s the route, I’d go after Jeremy Lin. We’ve seen the struggles they’ve had when VanVleet directs the offence with the bench, and Delon Wright has stagnated a bit during his contract year. Lin brings them another play-maker and scorer off of the bench, and would be a great fit next to Lowry when they go small.

3) Who’s the player you would target on the buyout market?

Sully: The name floating around is Wesley Matthews. While it makes sense to go after him if he gets bought out — as the Raptors’ three-point shooting hasn’t been great this season – I just don’t think it’s the best option. He is a solid three-point shooter, shooting 38.3 per cent through his nine-year career, but figuring out where he fits into the rotation is what would concern me. He could be a decent back-up to Danny Green but looking at the entire rotation as a whole, he isn’t mobile on offence — he’s only a catch-and-shoot guy — and is an okay defender but isn’t quick, so the Raptors can’t have him on the floor as much as they would like to. Then again, he could just take all of C.J.’s minutes.

Instead, I would like the Raptors to pursue a player like Jeremy Lin or Courtney Lee, if they are bought out. Both Lin and Lee can create plays for themselves and others, and provide decent shooting. Lin is a career 34.8 percent shooter from deep while Lee is shooting 38.8 percent for his career. Having either one of those two would be a great addition to have come playoff time because I am not sold on Fred VanVleet or Delon Wright coming up big for playoff moments. Also, it would much easier to insert Lin or Lee in place of VanVleet/Wright/Norman Powell/C.J. Miles (especially if they are struggling) to the rotation because they offer what the Raptors need — playmaking and shooting, which doesn’t hurt to have a lot of in the postseason.

Conor: In the vein of the previous answer, this is all a bit of shuffling deck chairs, but a guy like Wesley Matthews is a good fit. He’s always shot well, and can defend multiple positions. He’d steal Anunoby’s minutes in a heartbeat. Wayne Ellington could be a better C.J. Miles, but I’m not sure that’s enough to get rotation minutes over OG or Norm. Had Omri Casspi not gotten injured, he could have been worth a flyer too.

This guy isn’t a buy-out candidate, but if I were Masai I’d be calling Danuel House Jr.’s reps, and the Rockets’ front office, to see what it might take to get him in a Raps uni. Not only can House shoot (39 percent), but he’s a strong rebounder for a guard.

Thomas: With the playoffs in mind, I think the clear answer of these names has to be Wesley Matthews. He has lost a step since signing his big contract, but as Sully and Conor said, he’s still a good three point shooter (37 per cent this season) and a capable defender. Those are two qualities the Raptors could definitely use come playoff time, especially for 12 to 17 minutes a night off the bench.

Around the NBA:

1) What are some non-Raptors trade you would like to see happen before the deadline?

Sully: It can happen any moment now but I would like to see both Mike Conley and Marc Gasol traded to winning teams, and no, not to the Raptors. I would also like Jrue Holiday traded to a winning team as well — even though the Pelicans organization has said they won’t trade him. So, if anything, I hope Conley and Gasol get traded because they deserve to have a shot at being on a playoff team that is poised for a deep run.

Conor: If Conley’s not coming to Toronto, then I’d like to see him go to Utah. With another high(er)-level offensive threat, the Jazz would have the balance needed to push themselves into the conversation of: “team most likely to make the Warriors sweat.”

Thomas: I want to see Mike Conley to the Jazz. Sure, it won’t help Conley with his future chances to be an all-star, but a Conley-Mitchell backcourt could be really good. Conley is a clear upgrade over Ricky Rubio and could make Utah the third best team in the West.

2) How do you think LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo will draft their All-Star teams tomorrow?

Sully’s All-Star Team Predictions:

Team Giannis: G: Stephen Curry | G: Kemba Walker | F: Kawhi Leonard | F: Giannis Antetokounmpo | C: Joel Embiid |

Reserves: Khris Middleton, Ben Simmons, Klay Thompson, Nikola Jokic, Bradley Beal, Kyle Lowry, Karl-Anthony Towns, Dirk Nowitzki.

Team LeBron: G: Kyrie Irving | G: James Harden | F: Paul George | F: LeBron James | C: Kevin Durant |

Reserves: Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nikola Vucevic, Dwyane Wade.

Conor’s All-Star Team Predictions:

Team Giannis: G: Stephen Curry | G: James Harden | F: Paul George | F: Giannis Antetokounmpo | C: Joel Embiid |

Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Klay Thompson, Karl-Anthony Towns, Damian Lilliard, Blake Griffin, Khris Middleton, Nikola Vucevic, Dirk Nowitzki

Team LeBron: G: Kemba Walker | G: Kyrie Irving | F: Kawhi Leonard | F: LeBron James | C: Kevin Durant |

Reserves: Anthony Davis, Ben Simmons, Nikola Jokic, Bradley Beal, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyle Lowry, D’Angelo Russell, Dwyane Wade

Thomas’ All-Star Team Predictions:

Team Giannis: G: Stephen Curry | G: Kemba Walker | F: Kawhi Leonard | F: Giannis Antetokounmpo | C: Joel Embiid |

Reserves: Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Nikola Jokic, Blake Griffin, Khris Middleton, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Dirk Nowitzki.

Team LeBron: G: Kyrie Irving | G: James Harden | F: Paul George | F: LeBron James | C: Kevin Durant |

Reserves: Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal, Ben Simmons, Kyle Lowry, LaMarcus Aldridge, Dwyane Wade.

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That wraps up this week’s HQ Roundtable! Let us know in the comments below if you have any questions you’d like us to discuss and we’ll be sure to include it in next week’s edition!