Once David Stern’s rigged lottery system overseen by the crooks at Goldman Sachs reveal those random results, there is a chance – a 49% one – that the Raptors will either get the 4th, 5th or 6th pick. Since failing to prepare is preparing to fail, a contingency plan needs to be in order if this disaster strikes. Kyrie Irving and Derek Williams are the consensus 1/2 choices across every draft board, and will be gone by the time the 4th pick arrives. This isn’t exactly considered a strong draft and once a team like the Raptors has to pick from a crop of Jonas Valanciunas, Kemba Walker, Brandon Knight and Enes Kanter, to add to their already young roster, trade winds are bound to swirl.
Let me say right now that I see zero chance of the Raptors trading down because of two reasons:
I get the sense Colangelo doesn’t view this draft as particularly strong, and his comments around the time he traded the 27th pick for James Johnson reflected that. In Toronto, the latest first-round pick Colangelo has bothered keeping is Ed Davis at #13. The 2007 first round pick was traded well before the draft, in 2008 Roy Hibbert was shipped to Indiana as part of the Jermaine O’Neal deal, and in the last two seasons the Raptors rid themselves of their second round picks (selecting DeRozan at #9 in 2009). Colangelo’s Toronto track record isn’t one which indicates that he targets mid-first round players. If anything, he has shown to take the player that falls in his lap without much complaint, see DeRozan and Ed Davis, both very predictable selections at their positions. The short-lived P.J Tucker is the player Colangelo has drafted to suit up beyond Ed Davis. This isn’t painting the picture of a GM who is targeting a player and will take the risk of trading down in order to get a 2-for-1.
Trading down from a top 6 pick usually results in a player coming back on the roster, perhaps even an established veteran. Right now the Raptors do need a veteran presence, especially with Evans’ likely departure, but I’m not sure using your pick to do that isn’t wastage. If a “readymade” player like Tony Parker (think Spurs are going to rebuild?) is offered, it would seem to make sense on paper: the Raptors need a PG, Parker is a great PG. Except that this goes entirely against the zeitgeist of rebuilding that Colangelo has so openly admitted to partaking in. He already said that the Raptors were “unlikely” to use the 9 million remaining on the Bosh TPE because of the rebuild at hand, and this is right along that alley. A 4-6 range pick isn’t going to net a young, potential All-Star caliber player and the Raptors would be better off keeping the pick and dealing with him post-draft.
I don’t believe the Raptors will move the pick before the draft for the simple reason that Colangelo showed his cards in his press conference: “I think we need to take the best available talent and let the dust settle….talent equals other possibilities. Right now we’re stockpiling assets, stockpiling flexibility and stockpiling talent that will yield a better team next year”.
Fine, I get it and makes total sense, but it’s only May and I have five more months of material to write. Allow me to present a scenario where it would make sense to trade down or even out of the draft. This thought process is preying on teams who might not be able to afford players on their existing rookie-scale deals because they’ll be up for big raises. We trade them a fresh rookie at the start of his cheap rookie deal for a more developed, but still young, player who can allow us to responsibly escalate the rebuild. So when do is it a possibility to trade out?
If the Raptors get the 2nd pick.
If you get #1, you pick Irving and move on. The third pick this year is like the second pick the last two years (after Griffin and Wall there’s a big dropoff). We already discussed the uncertainty and relatively low trade value of 4-6, which means #2 is the answer. The Raptors can use the pick as bait for anyone interested in Derek Williams. The value of this pick can be so inflated that they just might be able to extract a player that is already developing like the one they’d hope to develop with the pick anyway! This is a pick where you don’t get what other teams are looking to discard, but what other teams would like to keep and are only giving up because of reasons unrelated to talent.
The lottery is on May 17th, the pre-draft combine is on May 22-23. On the 24th the value of this pick will either start to rise or stick where it is, a few workouts later it could go either way, the key is to strike when the iron is hot. Now, who can the Raptors get that will fit perfectly into a rebuild:
Eric Gordon, LAC: Will enter his final year before the Clippers have to deal with a qualifying offer of $5.13M. He would give the Raptors an option to switch DeRozan to the three.
Kevin Love, MIN: Same as Gordon, except his qualifying offer stands at $6.1M. I can’t even remember the last time Minny paid someone big money, maybe they would be interested in saving cash and restarting the cycle once again with the #2 pick.
Brandon Jennings, MIL: The Bucks are in no hurry to make a decision on Jennings as he still has two years left on his deal, it is however in the interest of the Raptors to inquire about Jennings and see if they can unite him with good friend DeMar DeRozan. Plus, the Raptors do need a starting point guard.
Brook Lopez, NJN: Considered a quality offensive player, Lopez is a poor defender who accumulates a lot of blocks giving the impression that he’s a good defender. He’s on this list because his deal is expiring next season, however I do get the sense that the Russian owner will re-up anyone at this point as long as they’re willing to stay.
Roy Hibbert, IND: See Brook Lopez.
Tyreke Evans, SAC: The ownership situation is a mess in Sacramento and it also happens to be Sacramento. The Kings are not going anywhere fast and having two top five picks is an attractive proposition. Trading Evans would send the wrong message to the fans, but that’s the last thing the Kings are thinking of right now.
OKC roster: James Harden, Eric Maynor and Serge Ibaka are amongst the guys whose rookie deals are expiring after next year. Ibaka and Maynor are specialized backupish players, with Harden being the most polished of the lot.
Some RFAs to consider in sign-and-trade deals:
Marc Gasol, MEM: A sign-and-trade package which would also send back someone like Darrell Arthur would inject some experience into the Raptors, and would ensure the Grizzlies don’t lose him for nothing.
Thaddeus Young/Jrue Holiday, PHI: Sixers are at $53M and have to make a decision on Young this summer and Holiday in a couple. The possibility of Derek Williams at the three alongside Brand and Iguodala has to be teasing to Philly, would they give up Holiday in a S&T deal?
Any other players that you’d at least consider bringing in with the Raptors top pick?