Having one of the best records in the league is a must if a team wants to make it to the NBA Finals. However, for a team like the Toronto Raptors who are in familiar territory once again, fighting for the top spot in the East, a feeling of déjà vu may be setting in. As good as they are now, everyone expects them to flame out in the playoffs eventually.
Raptors Avoiding Insanity
At 30-12, the Raptors are second in the Eastern Conference standings, next only to the Milwaukee Bucks who are sporting a tenuous lead over them at 28-11. The Wizards, on the other hand, are going nowhere with a dreadful 16-24 record and very little hope of improving after John Wall went down with a season-ending injury.
Raptors management knows the saying, “insanity is doing things over and over again and expecting a different result.” General manager Masai Ujiri understood that well which is why they dealt their franchise player in the offseason. The Raptors sent beloved shooting guard and franchise player DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for former MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, who is also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year awardee.
Toronto also shook things up before that trade went down when they fired Dwane Casey after seven years at the helm and elevated assistant coach Nick Nurse to head coaching duties. Despite giving the Raptors their franchise-best record of 59-23 last season, management decided that Casey wasn’t the coach that could get them to the Promised Land after another sweep at the hands of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and that Nurse was ready to step up. Based on the team’s performance so far, Ujiri’s gamble has paid off…in the regular season, that is.
But are these changes enough to get them over the hump?
Is Bradley Beal Worth It?
It’s a make-or-break season and anything less than a Finals appearance will be considered a failure in Toronto. They have been knocking on the door of greatness the past few years and they risked a lot during the summer just to get another shot at reaching their ultimate goal.
If management believes that they can acquire another All-Star to strengthen their chances of a successful run at a title, they should go for it. Beal appears to be a good fit for the Raptors, a star player whose game won’t disrupt their system.
The cost is going to be high to nab a player like Beal, who the Wizards will not let go off easily. You have to give up quality players to get one of the league’s premier scorers. The deals I propose here are arranged in order of worst to best, which means the Raptors will offer number three first before they give their best offer (number one).
Here now are the three best deals that the Raptors can offer the Wizards for Bradley Beal:
*Note: The trades below were simulated using ESPN’s NBA Trade Machine
Raptors receive: SG Bradley Beal, SG Jordan McRae
Trading for Beal and his $25 million salary is going to gut the team significantly as it will take a number of players for the Raptors to come anywhere close to his payout. They will need an additional player from the Wizards whenever their proposal is to ship off at least four players to obtain Beal.
The one constant that Washington will demand from the Raptors will be Pascal Siakam. The potential of this versatile 6-foot-9 forward is enormous. He averaged 20.0 points per game the past five games with a career-high 30-point outing against the Bucks
The advantage of this first proposal for the Wizards is that they receive not only a budding star in Siakam, but also to get an expiring contract in Greg Monroe plus two first-rounders. However, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News noted, the Raptors have already committed their 2019 pick to the Spurs, so they will have to convince the Wizards to “take a pick as far out as 2023.”
Norman Powell’s contract will take a few more years to expire while C.J. Miles’ will be off the books after next season.
Toronto will add shooting guard Jordan McRae to the mix to provide them with an additional body on the roster.
Raptors receive: SG Bradley Beal, SF Jeff Green, future second-round draft pick
Aside from Siakam, Danny Green will be another starter that will be sent to Washington in this deal. It’s a more costly offer for the Raptors as it will take away two-fifths of their starting lineup. The adjustment will be quite daunting as both Siakam and Green are essential cogs in both their offensive and defensive systems. Delon Wright is another key player coming off the bench but as long as veteran point guard Kyle Lowry can stay healthy the rest of the way, they will be fine with Fred Van Vleet alone as the backup playmaker.
Jeff Green will play back up to Kawhi Leonard and can be a reliable player on the floor during crucial stretches in the playoffs with his experience. The teams can also swap one of the picks coming from Toronto with the Wizards giving up a second-rounder along with Beal and Jeff Green.
Raptors receive: SG Bradley Beal, C Dwight Howard, future second-round draft pick
If the Wizards want more in return for their prized shooting guard, the Raptors final offer will have to include OG Anunoby and Jonas Valanciunas.
However, to make up for the loss of their valuable center, the Raptors must require that they get Dwight Howard in return. The two big men are currently on the injured list but while the Raptors center had been serviceable early on, the Wizards have barely gotten value from Howard since he’s sidelined most of the season. Both players’ contracts will expire in 2020.
Anunoby’s future will now be fully realized as a starter for the Wizards. Can he handle the job? He’s a smart young player and he could blossom into one of the better small forwards in the game with more playing time under his belt.
Rather than giving up two first-rounders, the Wizards will have to settle for a swap of a first-rounder for their second-rounder with this deal. If this is what it takes to acquire Beal, the Raptors better be ready for some speed bumps ahead as they will have to adjust to new players on their roster who will play key roles in their run to the Finals.
Is Beal worth all this trouble? Consider that Leonard is a free agent at the end of the season and the fact that you need a couple of All-Stars to win in this league. At the very least, even if Leonard decides that he wants to play elsewhere, the Raptors still have two of their Big Three in place. Heck, if they can trade DeRozan last summer, they definitely have the guts to trade anybody.