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Raptors HQ Roundtable: Stars and steals edition

The HQ Staff celebarte Freddy All-Star, debate the biggest snubs, and fire up the trade machine to see if they can get the Raps a steal of a deal

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Each week the RaptorsHQ gang gets together to talk over the biggest stories in Raptordom as well as the NBA at large. If you have ideas for us, leave them in the comments!

Oh and... we traded Zion.

1) Freddy All-Star! Give us a few words about how this makes you feel as a Raptors fan.

J.D. Quirante: I feel like a proud cuz, having watched plenty of his 905 games at Hershey’s as a fan.

Jay Rosales: For someone who was a Wichita State Shocker, someone who shocked 29 NBA teams when he led the 905 to a (then) D League championship, shocked everyone by garnering an NBA Finals MVP vote....Fred shocked NO ONE with his first All-Star selection.

Josh Kern: I was prepared to get pretty damn angry! I had a “VanVleet snubbed” piece pre-written and the lede was “The NBA f—ked up.” So honestly, I was mostly relieved — relieved to see that the coaches see what we’re seeing and rewarded Freddy accordingly.

Joseph Strauss: Freddy deserves this so much. Watching him expand his game every year has been special, and there’s nothing like some recognition for hard work. I have a feeling he won’t be going undrafted at the All-Star Draft.

Conor McCreery: I’m going to have to re-assess Fred’s ceiling. While I knew he was the heart and soul of the team I have to say his level of dominance this season caught me off guard. I knew he’d be good. I didn’t know he’d be All-Star starter-level good.

2) How do you think FVV’s selection could change extension talks?

Conor: I suppose it depends how likely you thought it was that Fred was getting a max-level extension, because now VanVleet’s team has extra ammo to make that case.

J.D.: I think it doesn’t affect it too much, if anything, post-season performance might be more of a factor.

Jay: Nothing changed. At his current pace, he’ll command a LOT when the time comes. He’s already worth more than what his player option will pay him in 2 seasons.

Josh: I don’t think it changes anything money-wise — except maybe it increases the urgency to get an extension done, before Fred hits free agency — though as Daniel Hackett pointed out to me when I asked about this possibility, the raise available with an extension isn’t very high. So it definitely makes more sense that he wait for free agency — but as Jay said, even if he didn't make the team, his level of play is commanding a big raise regardless.

Joseph: Maybe an All-NBA selection bumps his rate a little extra, but I think it’s already been understood that VanVleet’s getting a healthy raise when this contract is up.

3) Give us your biggest surprise (non-Wiggins division), and biggest snub.

J.D.: Surprise: Middleton. His season’s been just as Mid as Tatum.

Snub: it wasn’t a shock to me but I had Jarett Allen as the reason why they are where they are. I would put him in before Garland.

Jay: I had same answers as Jaydee, so let me add Dejounte Murray as the snub and some voting oddities as the surprise. Considering how many Twitter votes were misspelled for VanVleet, it’s amazing how many votes Antetokounmpo received. Also, Wiggins was 4th in voting before that K-Pop tweet. He may have gotten in without that boost!

Josh: Middleton definitely surprised me, and Tatum is a pretty underwhelming selection. The Cavs probably deserve two All-Stars, and the game is in Cleveland, so I’ll say Allen is my biggest snub.

Joseph: Can’t say I deviate much from your guys’ answers. But another snub that sticks out is Jrue Holiday, mainly because I think he could’ve gotten in over his own teammate (the non-Giannis one).

Conor: I wasn’t surprised by Middleton (Geez, what do you guys have against 20/6/5 with strong defensive with a tasty true-shooting percentage?), my surprise was Darius Garland, not that I thought he was a bad pick, I just felt he’d get squeezed.

My snub: His teammate Jarrett Allen who I thought would be the pick from the Cavs given his longer tenure in the league.

4) Kevin Durant is unlikely to play in the All-Star game; who do you think gets the injury replacement nod?

Josh: I do really believe Siakam deserves it, but, so do Sabonis, Allen and LaMelo. If it can’t be Pascal, I say give it to LaMelo — he’ll be hella fun to watch in an All-Star game.

Jay: Jarrett Allen deserved the spot over Garland. Plus, it’s in Cleveland. Plus PLUS, we haven’t angered Lavar in a while.

Conor: Oh, God! Is that Kevin Love’s music? (No? OK, then I agree with everything Jay said.)

J.D.: The right answer is Pascal Siakam but for the views, Darth Silver will pick Melo.

Joseph: I think Jarrett Allen gets in with homecourt advantage. One-on-one tournament to see who gets the final spot, anybody?

Conor: OK, that may be the best idea in this entire roundtable. Give me a four player bracket, playing by ones and twos, winners outs. Who DOESN’T sponsor that?

5) Does the Raps streak of beating the Heat and Bulls this past week do anything to change how you view their ceiling?

Joseph: This core is legitimately solid. Watching them beat the Heat twice was amazing, as were their victories against teams like the Bucks and Bulls. Get them a bench!

Josh: I don’t think it’s changed my outlook in the short-term (also, the Heat were missing KLow), but I do hope it ups the urgency to upgrade the team at the trade deadline. They’re good, and they have the chance to be really good with some upgrades!

Conor: I’m torn. On one hand they legit went out and beat some very good teams (albeit with injury issues). On the other, I worry even if they do go shopping for benchpieces, Nurse may still run the core into the ground like he did in the Boston series.

J.D.: I’m higher than most when it comes to this core. I had then as potentially in the playoffs, maybe 5th or 6th spot when it’s all said and done. What I know for sure is that the top teams will jockey away from a potential head-to-head against the Raptors in the first round.

Jay: It actually did. I was higher than most on the team before the season. Then it dipped when the team struggled to stay healthy. Now it’s slightly higher than my preseason thoughts. The number one Raptor Killer, Jimmy Butler, was slayed twice in three days — as the best team in the East, no less. With the East up for grabs, who really wants to face this team right now?

6) The trade deadline is approaching - fire up the Trade Machine and give me: a) your favourite Raptors deal(s) and;

b) a trade you’d like to see go through for another team - it can be because it’ll make the league more interesting, chaotic, or hilarious.

J.D.: Editor’s Note: J.D.’s trade of Dragic for Bledsoe + BJ Boston + pick. Any pick. - was blown up by the Clips reportedly sending Bledsoe in a package headlined by former Raptor Norm Powell.

Another team: Jaylen brown + Al horford for Beal+ Bertans. Maybe throw in Isaiah Todd.

(Editor’s Note: I’m filing this under hilarious as we watch Tatum realize he now has to share the ball with a guy who fits even worse with him than Brown.)

Josh: I’m too old to play with the trade machine — I leave it to the youngsters. That said, I like Hackett’s Jakob Poeltl trade (Dragic, Achiuwa, and Flynn, for Jak and Doug McDermott). Honestly, I’m not convinced a true big is their biggest (ahem) need but hey — bring Jak home!

Jay: I’m very happy and excited that my latest dumb fake trade is buried under all of yours.

Thunder get: Birch, Flynn, Nwaba

Rockets get: Dragic, Boucher, Favors

Raptors get: Gordon, Wood, Kenrich

Raps lower their cap by almost $1 million, which is helpful because they’ll need to sign a 14th roster spot.

Conor: Thankfully I’m writing this AFTER that Clips report so I can delete my “Ibaka + Morris for Dragic and Svi” deal idea. (But what ABOUT scarves???)

Instead, I’ll lean into this coming home trade:

To Toronto: Reggie Bullock, Kelly Olynyk, Cory Joseph

To Dallas: Goran Dragic, Svi Mykhailiuk

To Pistons: Dwight Powell, Khem Bhirch, Malachi Flynn, Dal 2nd rd’er

The Raps get a legit back-up back-court, and Olynyk who’s shooting, ball-handling, and willingness to be in the right place on defense would all fit.

The Mavs get another ball-handler, and a proven playoff performer, and can hope Svi regresses back to his mean to make up for some of Bullock’s lost shooting.

The Pistons gets slightly younger vets who they can package off in the future, a pick and a shot to see if Casey can mentor another Raptors draft-pick for the price of a couple of guys who they don’t need long-term anyway.

For someone else?

Alright, this is a crazy one but I want to see the Sixers send Ben Simmons and two future firsts to the New Orleans Pelicans for Zion, Tomas Santorasky, Jaxon Hayes and Didi Louzada.

If I’m the Pels I have to be incredibly concerned that Zion will either a) never re-sign, b) never be healthy or, worst case c) resign and THEN never be healthy.

Trading a generational player is crazy, but they Pels can’t afford for Zion to either become an albatross or just leave. A Simmons-Ingram-Hart-Jones-Valanciunas line-up with Devonte Graham as a 6th man has some definite interesting vibes, no?

Plus the Pels have Simmons for three more seasons - and tell me he won’t be out on a “fuck the league” revenge tour after watching nobody make credible offers for him for 10+ months. If Simmons wants out before the deal is up? At least the Pels will be trading him after Simmons has, you know, PLAYED.

For the Sixers, can you imagine a pick and roll between Zion and Embiid? Hell, how about Zion rocketing up from the corner to take a handoff from Embiid in the high post? Aside from the Cavaliers no team in the NBA has the personel to handle either of those actions.

Plus Zion now has a heck of a lot more incentive to get healthy, and take much better care of his body. If he breaks down it looks like a loss, but if he doesn’t? As good as Simmons is this is a steal.