Raptors Trade Deadline Recap
NBA trade season arrived with a flurry of action and left us with a conspicuously re-arranged league-wide landscape. Some of the league’s elite got even better, a few tanking teams collected assets for expiring contracts, and a pair of teams engaged in an all-out media circus over a disgruntled super-duper star.
Thankfully, when it comes to the Toronto Raptors’, we’re talking about a franchise firmly positioned in the first category mentioned above. That’s not to say the Raptors had a perfect trade season (although they came pretty darn close); instead, it’s a gentle reminder that there is always room for improvement, and the 2018-2019 Raptors heeded that message and subsequently loaded up for what promises to be a historic playoff run.
What DID They Do?
In: Marc Gasol, Cash Considerations
Out: Greg Monroe, Malachi Richardson, Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, CJ Miles, 2024 Second-Round Pick, 2022 Second-Round Pick, 2021 Second-Round Pick.
Oh, not much, aside from adding a former DPOY, 3x All-Star, 2x All-NBA player in centre Marc Gasol. The newest Raptor, affectionately known as “Big Spain”, is averaging 15.6ppg/8.5rpg/4.6apg on shooting splits of 44/34/75 this year – he brings two-way talent to a roster already brimming with potential on both ends of the court. His leadership, playoff experience, BBIQ and workable contract made him the ideal target for these Raptors at the deadline. Without much trade ammo (or at least, ammo they were willing to part with), Toronto significantly improved their top-end talent ahead of an all-in playoff push. This move speaks volumes about the team’s intentions: winning big in the postseason, and undoubtedly moving aggressively to re-sign superstar free-agent-to-be, Kawhi Leonard.
What Were They RUMOURED to Do?
There were talks of a straight up Lowry/JV for Conley/Gasol swap, and while this would’ve improved the roster in the short-term, it would’ve seriously compromised Toronto’s long-term financial flexibility. Consider this hypothetical a bullet dodged by the Ujiri administration.
The other rumour bandied about was that the Raptors would dangle Siakam and Anunoby in hopes of entering trade talks for Anthony Davis. However, this was always viewed as the longest of long-shots, as the Raptors would have been risking the entire future of the franchise for what could have been only a single playoff run with both Leonard and Davis on the roster (as both are huge flight-risks in free agency).
What They SHOULD’VE Done.
Exactly what they did, more or less. Getting Marc Gasol and opening roster spots destined to be filled by buyout-market candidates (hello, Jeremy Lin!) for what amounts to a handful of expiring contracts, second-round draft picks, and bench players amounts to a near-perfect deadline transaction for the Raps. If we’re nitpicking, trading for a wing like Kent Bazemore or Toronto-favourite Terrence Ross would’ve been a shrewd move to fill out the roster after the Gasol trade; leaving so many empty spots on the roster and betting big on the buyout market is always risky, but the Raptors could turn that into a win as well, pending the occupation of those spots by bought-out veterans – which will come without having to sacrifice any draft capital. Masai Ujiri may very well win Executive of the Year for this memorable deadline performance.