It Seems Unlikely the Raptors Can Trade Up

Andrew Wiggins ain’t walking through that door.

I hate to break it to everyone, but in all likelihood, Andrew Wiggins ain’t walking through that door.

While it hasn’t really seemed a realistic possibility since the Toronto Raptors turned their season around in the weeks following the Rudy Gay trade, it certainly seemed a likely goal in the immediate aftermath. Even once the tank was unquestionably “off,” the idea remained that there may be some way for the Raptors to still end up with the hometown hero.

It’s not happening.

This isn’t news, of course, but after reaching out to bloggers from teams who have picks ahead of the Raptors’ No. 20 selection, it seems unlikely that, barring a major and unexpected trade, the Raptors won’t be moving up to select anywhere in the lottery, Wiggins or otherwise.

Depending on how you evaluate this draft class, that may not be a concern. The fluidity in rankings for the prospects in the 10-30 range is such that you may prefer a player at 20, anyway, who you may not need to trade up for. Still, I wanted to evaluate the possibility, so I reached out.

Raptor Assets
Before we get into responses, here are the assets that the Raptors could conceivably offer a team in any draft day deal:

Picks No. 20, 37 and 59 in 2014 draft
Own 2015 picks
Own 2016 1st, NY 2016 1st (lower of NY/Den)
Own 2017 picks, NY 2017 2nd
All own picks 2018-2020
DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Landry Fields, Chuck Hayes, Steve Novak, Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross (roster players)
Patrick Patterson, Greivis Vasquez, Nando De Colo (RFAs sign-and-trade)
Kyle Lowry (UFA sign-and-trade)
John Salmons ($7M/2M), Tyler Hansbrough ($3.3M/1M) non-guaranteed deals (total/guaranteed)

Trading Up
As mentioned, I reached out to bloggers from the teams selecting ahead of the Raptors to see if moving up was reasonable. Basically, I sent them the list of assets above and asked “what would it take to get Pick X,” and they were kind enough to respond, for the most part.

Cleveland Cavaliers – No. 1
From Conrad Kaczmarek
“They don’t have anything, I don’t think.”

That one’s pretty obvious. Really, any of the top three or four picks are franchise changers, either via the player drafted or for the return it could fetch on the open market, which the Raps simply can’t match.

Milwaukee Bucks – No. 2
From Eric Buenning

For the #2, I’d hazard that the return would have to be pretty overwhelming. They love where they are.

I don’t know if there is something as readily appealing as this high pick, but if you offered Lowry, Ross, Amir, and at least one of the first rounders, I think they’d listen. Still probably wouldn’t pull the trigger though. They are pumped to be in a position to pick a franchise changing talent.”

Philadelphia 76ers – Nos. 3, 10
From Andrew Unterberger
“For the Sixers pick at #3, I don’t think you could put together a package that would really tempt us. DeMar and Lowry are too expensive and don’t really give us the type of production we’re looking for, and Jonas overlaps too much with Nerlens Noel for his inclusion to really get us in the room. You could include all (and I mean all) of your available first rounders and maybe Hinkie thinks about it, but I doubt it. This is our chance to get a potential franchise guy, and I don’t think there’s anything you could offer to make up for giving that up.

For #10, I’m also not sure there’s much you could offer us. Maybe if Hinkie likes Terrence Ross you could do #20 and Ross, or #20 and a couple future picks (one of which would have to be that 2016 Knicks pick), but I think the #10 pick from this draft means enough to the Sixers that it’d probably take an overpay on Toronto’s part to get it, and I’m not really sure why or if they’d do that.

Bottom line: I don’t think we like your players enough to make this work. Though really, it’s not them, it’s us.”

Orlando Magic – Nos. 4, 12
From Eddy Rivera
“Unless it was a Godfather offer, I don’t see any scenario where the Magic would trade their two lottery picks. Pretty cut-and-dry for Orlando.”

Utah Jazz – No. 5
I didn’t get a response from Utah, but given what’s available and their stated new direction, it seems unlikely they’d take a package of future assets, of which they already have plenty, for a pick that could land them a potential All-Star.

Boston – Nos. 6, 17
From Michael Pina
“The only player on Toronto’s roster the Celtics could find value for with their 6th overall pick is Jonas Valanciunas. For 17: Terrence Ross? Maybe?”

Okay, well once you’re out of the “big three” or four prospects, the Raptors probably aren’t giving up Valanciunas, a known commodity and potentially budding star, for a player who might be as good, but maybe not. A slide up three spots hardly seems a worthwhile endeavor.

Los Angeles Lakers – No. 7
From Andrew Ungvari
“Given that the Lakers two biggest needs are a PG and a big that can either replace or play alongside a re-signed Pau Gasol, there isn’t much the Lakers and Raptors can discuss. If the Lakers were interested in Lowry, they’d prefer to try and sign him outright and use their #7 pick on either Randle, Vonleh, or Gordon than trade it for a sign-and-traded Lowry. Would the Lakers consider trading the pick for Jonas? Sure they’d consider it. But the Raptors wouldn’t. Given the fact that the Lakers have nearly half of their cap already committed to just Kobe and Steve Nash, I would assume that the opportunity to add a significant player on a $2M rookie contract for the next three years is more appealing to them than trading it for a non-superstar making more than that.”

There was a slight hope that if the Lakers moved up in the lottery, the Raptors could somehow become a player by sign-and-trading Lowry, sending another piece or two to be absorbed into the Lakers’ cap space, and being willing to take on the troublesome final year of Steve Nash’s contract, but not only is said scenario still incredibly unlikely, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Raptors if the carrot is “just” No. 7.

Sacramento – No. 8
From Jonathan Santiago
“The Kings would probably want a deal involving Kyle Lowry or Valanciunas if they were to trade the No. 8. A deal with Lowry seems more plausible, but even then – the guy is a free agent so they could just sign him out-right if Rudy opts out.”

Charlotte – No. 9
Again, nobody responded, but given Charlotte’s desperate need for shooting and the number of shooters available here, it seems unlikely a deal would make much sense.

Nos. 11-16, 18-19
It wouldn’t make a great deal of sense to trade a present-day asset to move up just a few spots, especially given how close many of the prospects in this range are. Should the Raptors really like a player here and want to dive in, perhaps kicking in a second-round pick or taking back some salary would be enough, but this kind of deal won’t move the needled much.

Okay, So…
Yeah, “so” what? Nothing, really, but since I was the one who pitched the “Webber Wiggins” idea earlier in the season, I felt it only forthright of me to now point out that it’s unlikely.

The issue, I suppose, is that everyone has a more immediate time frame than what a “Webber-like” offer would provide value within, unless the team with the high pick suddenly lost all leverage (like in the Eric Lindros case, though Peter Forsberg and a gang of other assets is hardly a bad return). The No. 20 pick and first rounders in 2016, 2018 and 2020 is a serious price for a top-three pick, but it’s also one a rebuilding team is unlikely to like. For one, the GM may not be around to enjoy the acquired picks. For another, the assumption would be that the Raptors would be good, so the value of those future picks is, if not bad then less certain. History suggests that top picks are, not surprisingly, far more valuable than later ones, and it’s unlikely that four No. 20 picks – four quarters for a dollar, basically – would make sense for any team, let alone a rebuilding one searching for a star.

HOWEVER…once the Raptors land Kevin Durant as a free agent in 2016, Wiggins will surely follow as a free agent in 2018. So just be patient.

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