The Toronto Raptors have made a big splash in the dying hours before the NBA trade deadline. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Toronto will trade Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, C.J. Miles and a 2024 second-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for Marc Gasol.
Toronto is planning to send Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Milles and a 2024 second-round pick to the the Grizzlies for Gasol, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 7, 2019
Earlier today, the reporters with their ears to the ground said that the Raptors were active in trying to get better before the trade deadline. While the verdict is obviously out on success until this core comes together, this is a huge swing by Masai Ujiri. The 1-2 centre combination of Serge Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas was paying dividends for Toronto before Valanciunas went down in mid-December with a thumb injury suffered against Golden State.
Now, that 1-2 centre combination looks to change significantly. Gasol is clearly the top guy at the centre position and his timeline for success lines up well with Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka as guys in their 30s. The question mark is whether the Raptors go back to playing Ibaka as a power forward and bench Pascal Siakam, or whether Ibaka will have to adjust to coming off the bench.
It’s also a move that hopefully woos Kawhi Leonard, as this starting lineup’s ability to pass is potentially devastating for opponents.
Then, there’s the other side. The Raptors lose some depth at the guard position without Delon Wright and C.J. Miles, two players who had improved on slow starts in recent weeks. This may portend Toronto getting in on the buyout market, or an expanded role for Patrick McCaw. Those decisions to come in due time.
For now, Marc Gasol is a Toronto Raptor. Get as excited as you feel is appropriate.