A lot has been said regarding the Marc Gasol trade, whether it be concerns about his age, if he’s still the player he was years ago, or if we’ve given up on Jonas Valanciunas too soon. One thing is certain however — Toronto is serious.
The deal also included two parts of that glorious league-leading “Bench Mob” from a year ago. Delon Wright, the do-it-all guard that showed flashes of spectacular offensive and defensive versatility but could never put it together due to the continuous injuries and spurts of passive play. Gone also is C.J. Miles (more recently of C.J.’s PJs fame), the sharpshooter that lost almost all his sharpness this season. We’ll miss Delon’s nasty euro-steps and surprising off-the-glass blocks and we’ll miss C.J.’s almost league-leading corner 3-PT% from last season, as well as the excitement in Matt Devlin’s voice whenever Miles put up a quick three.
But most of all, we’ll miss JV. Jonas had been the longest tenured Raptor before the trade on Thursday (an honour that now falls on Kyle Lowry). When he was drafted in 2011 — and I’m telling on myself a little here — I was devastated that we didn’t go for Kentucky guard Brandon Knight. Slowly but surely, I warmed up to him, learned to see past his defensive deficiencies, and was genuinely excited for his return before the trade went down. As a super-late addition to the #JVHIVE, I’d like to thank Jonas for his consistent contributions over the years and wish him all the best in Memphis.
Much like the DeRozan trade, Masai, Bobby, and the front office have made the difficult decision to let go of a good player for a great one. Marc Gasol’s resume has been read by nearly every Raptor fan and now he’ll finally have something to play for this season. We’re not sure what the long-term future holds for Toronto, but in the short-term the Raptors acquired another former Defensive Player of the Year in what could be the best shot Toronto has had at a championship in franchise history. First they need to take care of business tonight against the Knicks.
Here are the details for tonight’s contest.
Where to Watch:
TSN, 7:30 PM EST
Toronto – Kyle Lowry, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol
New York – Dennis Smith Jr., Damyean Dotson, Kevin Knox, Noah Vonleh, DeAndre Jordan
Toronto – none
New York – Frank Ntilikina (groin – OUT), Emmanuel Mudiay (shoulder – OUT)
New or Same old Knicks?
The New York Knicks have a clearly defined goal. The trade that cleared cap space for two max-salary players this summer only cost them their 23-year-old All-Star still in his rookie contract. The trade also netted them the guard they passed on a year before in Dennis Smith Jr. They also released Enes Kanter, whose last memorable highlight for New York was kissing the court after 4 straight DNP-CDs and proceeding to air ball his first shot attempt that game.
But can we look at New York putting all their eggs in one basket again? The last time they had space for a superstar free agent in 2010, they whiffed. This time trading Porzingis after actively shopping him weeks before the trade deadline just for a shot at KD + 1. Who knows, with the way Kevin Durant reacted to questions after avoiding the press since the trade, maybe New York knows something we don’t?
The Buyout Market
Toronto had 10 active players on the roster (not counting two way contracts of Chris Boucher and Jordan Loyd) before signing a familiar face in Malcolm Miller to a 10-day contract 2 days ago. For the first time in the Masai Ujiri era, Toronto will need to be big players in the buyout market out of necessity.
Ideally, Toronto should be looking for a 3rd big, some perimeter shooting from the wing, and another guard for insurance if one of Kyle Lowry or Fred VanVleet get hurt during the stretch run. It hasn’t been a good start, with Wesley Matthews and Wayne Ellington signing with Indiana and Detroit respectively. The Raptors have just a few weeks before the March 1st cut-off date to fill out the rest of the roster.
The Raptors Across the Association
Thursday night, 4 of the top scorers in the league are former or current Raptors. DeMar DeRozan led the night with 35 points, followed by Siakam’s career-high of 33, Terrence Ross’ 32, and Fred VanVleet’s career-high 30.
Let’s also give a quick shout out to our “Brazilian Kevin Durant” Bruno Caboclo, who also dropped a career high, scoring 16 points including scoring against Paul George in a one-on-one situation. I think I can speak for most Raptor fans when I say I’m glad to see Bruno finally putting it together. Now with some old teammates coming his way in Memphis, its potentially looking to be the Raptor Fan’s second team.