2 hyperbolic trades the Raptors need to make right now
The Toronto Raptors, after winning a championship in 2019, did not make the playoffs last year. Clearly, the fact they had to play in Tampa Bay due to travel restrictions between Canada and the U.S. had a significant effect on the squad. All NBA fans remember the massive support Toronto had in 2019, including the raucous “Jurassic Park” outside of Scotiabank Arena.
Two years later, that championship seems long gone. While losing Kawhi Leonard right after the title run was obviously damaging, it’s still surprising the Raptors had such a poor season in 2020-21. Nick Nurse’s team is now looking to enjoy a bounceback year , led by a solid core of Pascal Siakam, Fred Van Vleet, and O.G. Anunoby, but without the help of franchise icon Kyle Lowry.
Here are two potential trades for the Raptors to consider that would help them have a better season, or at least a better future.
Potential Raptors Trades
Terrence Ross to Raptors; Goran Dragic, pick(s) to Orlando
This is a pretty straight-up trade for both teams. The Magic would do it since Goran Dragic would be of instant help in their quest to thread the needle of rebuilding while remaining competitive, and the Raptors would do it since Terrence Ross—who began his career north of the border—is in the middle of his prime and can be a very valuable piece offensively. While on the wrong side of 30, Ross is still a very productive scorer, and would go a long way toward shoring up Toronto’s lack of perimeter shooting outside Van Vleet and Gary Trent Jr. Having a proven scorer like him on the wing for a team with playoff aspirations can be the difference between staying home or going to the postseason.
Ross also had a great couple of years in Orlando since he was acquired as part of the infamous Serge Ibaka in 2017. He averaged 14.2 points on 41.6 percent shooting over the last four-and-a-half years, and put up better box-score numbers a season ago. His efficiency, as always, isn’t ideal, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker for a player occupying Ross’ role.
Dragic, meanwhile, would add some needed veteran leadership in Orlando. He went to the Finals with the Miami Heat in 2020 and has been around the league since 2008, valuable experience from which youngsters like Jalen Suggs and Markelle Fultz can learn. Dragic’s controversial comments to a Slovenian news outlet about having “higher ambitions” than Toronto factor in here, too. Though he’s since apologized for what Dragic called a translation error, his bridge in Toronto might be burned.
The picks would also be beneficial for the Magic as they embark on a rebuild. A protected first-round pick would obviously be preferred by Orlando’s front office, but the Raptors could potentially get this deal done with multiple second-rounders, instead.
This trade seems fairly straightforward and simple, but sometimes those deals are the best for both sides. Dragic would be able to mentor talented young players in Orlando, while Ross would be able to return to his other home, Toronto.
Wendell Carter Jr. to Toronto; Chris Boucher, pick(s) to Orlando
This trade makes perfect sense, but only if the Raptors accept that they will not come close to contending in the near future. While it’s understandable the front office of the only Canadian team in the NBA wants to take full advantage of Siakam’s prime, this could be a good time to build for the future. The Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks will not be getting any younger, and neither will the Los Angles Lakers and LA Clippers out west.
Boucher had a career year in 2020-21, scoring 13.6 points on 51.4 percent shooting from the field and 38.3 percent shooting from three. Additionally, he only has one year left on his deal and if the Raptors do not plan to keep him past this season, it would be wise to trade him for value. Carter Jr. may not be an immediate impact player in Toronto, but is a solid building block for the future.
Boucher would slide into the center position for the Magic, filling that gap next to Jonathan Isaac. Both big men stretch the floor, key for a team with iffy outside shooting, and parting ways with Carter would also clarify Mo Bamba’s role in the Magic’s present and future.
The only way this trade works for both teams, remember, is if the Raptors are comfortable with the prospect of taking a step back this season. While Siakam and Van Vleet no doubt wants to lead this team back to the legitimate contention, it’s much more realistic that Toronto will need developmental time and additional talent to get back to that level. Wendell Carter Jr. can be that talent; he’s only three years removed from being the seventh overall pick in the draft. The Raptors are in a position to grow his game, affording him starter minutes next to Siakam in the frontcourt.
While both of these trades focus on the future, one is a more significant risk than the other. Carter could turn out to be a great player, but could also continue stagnating, while Ross will definitely be able to deliver for the Raptors. Regardless, Toronto needs to embrace the reality of rebuilding to eventually get back to really challenging at the top of the East.