Toronto expected to hold fire sale intended to build around Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet
Although the Toronto Raptors had the opportunity to make one final play in their quest to re-sign Kawhi Leonard, they simply could not pull together a package strong enough to land Paul George, which would be the ultimate determinant in Leonard’s decision to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers.
And while Toronto should still be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference without Leonard, they may choose to trade some of their aging stars in an effort to retool for the future.
Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Chris Mannix explained that–with a trio of veterans on expiring deals–the Raptors could be sellers for the remainder of the offseason or even closer to the February trade deadline:
Toronto’s next move will be interesting. Raptors can still field a competitive team, but with several players in the final year of deals — Lowry, Ibaka, Gasol — expect Toronto explore trades and a rebuild around Siakam, VanVleet.
— Chris Mannix (@SIChrisMannix) July 6, 2019
Remember that the Raptors were still one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference before Leonard arrived. With Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan leading the way, Toronto even had the best record in the Eastern Conference during the 2017-18 regular season.
However, Leonard proved to be the X-factor in solving the playoff equation, and his historic postseason came to define Toronto’s championship run. With this in mind, it would not be a surprise if the Raptors elect to blow things up.
Siakam emerged as a legitimate two-way star last season, while VanVleet’s performance and resilience throughout the playoffs bode well for his potential in the league.
Lowry will be 33 next season. Gasol will be 35, and despite still being one of the better two-way centers in the league, he is past his prime. Ibaka is coming off of one of the best years of his career, but he is hardly the kind of player to put any given team over the top.
The Raptors may as well try capitalize on their trade value and look to see what assets they might be able to acquire for the future.