What was supposed to be an eventful NBA trade deadline for the Toronto Raptors was instead eerily quiet for the front office. Much was made about the team potentially selling off key pieces to retool or rebuild for the future. With many intriguing pieces on the roster, surely Masai Ujiri and co. could fetch a high price for their players.

Instead, though, the Raptors zagged when everyone thought they would zig. Instead of trading OG Anunoby or any other player, the team instead chose to trade for former Toronto stud Jakob Poeltl. It was a surprising move for the front office, who were not able to get the right deal they wanted. Let's talk about why this could be a mistake that dooms the Raptors after this season.

Raptors 2023 NBA trade deadline mistake: Not Selling

The Raptors did not need to completely sell the farm during the trade deadline. Pascal Siakam continues to be an underrated star in the league, and it would be worth building a team around his strengths. The same applies for Scottie Barnes: after a rough start to the year, the sophomore has bounced back nicely. You could even make a case for the other players mentioned below that were involved in trade talks.

However, it's clear at this point that the Raptors needed a big shake-up if they wanted to build towards title contention in the East. That should've meant trading one of O.G Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, and Gary Trent Jr. All three players certainly had some trade value that they could've leveraged to grab better assets, despite their rough seasons.

A Fred VanVleet trade was always going to be a bit tricky: the Raptors don't have another natural point guard on their roster (save for Malachi Flynn, who's consistently in and out of Nurse's doghouse). There's some optimism that VanVleet could return to his All-Star form, or even just his 2019 season. However, the more pressing matter is the PG's contract situation. He's set to become a free agent this season, and he's reportedly asking for $35 million per year. If Toronto is keen on continuing the Point Barnes experiment, then keeping FVV is risking him leaving in free agency for nothing.

The same could be said for Gary Trent Jr, though there's less optimism on his end from some fans. GTJ became a Raptors fan-favorite last season for his incredible shooting and active hands on defense. However, this season has shown a rather ugly side of his game. Trent Jr's tunnel vision has soured a lot of fans' vision of him. He's also set to become a free agent this offseason, and the Lakers were willing to fork a first-rounder for him. That's potentially another player that walks for nothing.

As for O.G Anunoby, the Raptors forward was one of the marquee names leading into the NBA trade deadline. There's a good reason why: he's one of the best lockdown defenders in the league, and he also has a dependable stroke from deep. Those two qualities alone make him an appealing target for any team looking for a versatile defender. Unfortunately, no one ultimately budged on a trade for the young forward.

Some optimism on the horizon?

There's still hope for these three Raptors to somehow turn this season around, despite the criticisms mentioned above. Remember, this same team surged in the second half of the year to make it to the playoffs. With the drama of the NBA trade deadline behind them, perhaps Anunoby, Trent Jr, and VanVleet will regain their past form. If these players step up over the next couple of weeks, that will open up more opportunities for Siakam and Barnes to work their magic.

You could also argue that the Raptors got at least a little bit better at the trade deadline after trading for Jakob Poeltl. A former Toronto first-round pick, Poeltl carved a name for himself with the San Antonio Spurs with his rim protection and rim-running on offense. That first quality has been a particular problem for Toronto this season. The reunion of the Yak and Skills tandem from Toronto's Bench Mob of 2018 should hopefully alleviate some of their issues on defense.

Still, they did not address the Raptors' glaring lack of a bench general… or any sort of versatility from the bench. Part of that may be Ujiri's unwillingness to settle for their top assets: he reportedly asked for a high price for O.G Anunoby. That's absolutely the right move to do, but it might bite them in the behind if their fortunes don't turn around this year. We'll see how this season plays out for Toronto.