The Trade Expendables?

Friday marks the unofficial start to the NBA trade season, and looking at the Raptors roster it’s entirely possible they sit this one out.

Toronto Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas reacts after a turnover during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 94-89. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

December 15th is an important NBA date, especially when you consider that almost nothing ever happens that day.  This is the day that marks the unofficial start to the NBA trade season, as the majority of NBA players who signed contracts during the summer become trade eligible.

While there are still players who won’t yet be eligible to be traded (Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka are examples due to the types of contracts they signed), the majority of the league will be eligible to be moved as of this Friday.

Two examples for soon to be trade-eligible players in Toronto are Alfonzo McKinnie and CJ Miles.  As an aside, just because a player can be traded does not mean that they will.  CJ Miles is almost as unlikely to get traded after December 15th as he is before it, but it will at least be a legal option within the CBA starting Friday.

And while the Raptors have continued their regular season success of recent years, and have added the element of fun, there are still a good number of fans who seem anxious for a move to be made.  Just look at some of the questions provided for recent podcast questions:

This are just the suggestions provided for the podcast, like any fanbase you can search Twitter for “Raptors trade” and find hundreds (thousands?) of people making suggestions.  Trades aren’t simple though.  It takes two or more teams to become convinced they are not only getting what they want/need, but generally that they are getting the better of the other teams involved.

Toronto has depth at each position to trade from, but is also limited in the sense that their tradeable players would likely bring little in return.   If anyone, who on the Raptors is expendable, while also providing enough to return value in a trade?

First off, it’s obvious to remove players like Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, and DeMar DeRozan from the discussion.  Two of them were signed this summer and they collectively make up the core of the team.  It’s silly to think that Masai will cut bait on that group so quickly considering what they have collectively shown this season.

Secondly, it’s likely safe to assume that the cheap rookie scale contributors are mostly safe.  I would wager that OG Anunoby won’t be going anywhere, and I would think the same about Jakob Poeltl and Pascal Siakam.

CJ Miles is safe considering how well he is playing the exact role he was signed for, and Norman Powell was just extended and won’t be going anywhere.

Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet are both contributing in positions of need on rookie contracts, and a minimum contract like Alfonzo McKinnie won’t return value on his own.  Toronto doesn’t even have a first round draft pick to trade until 2020, further limiting the options in trades.

After all of that, Toronto is functionally left with just three players that could be considered active trade possibilities: Bruno Caboclo, Bebe Nogueira, and Jonas Valanciunas.  These three are likely the only real tradeable players.  Even if you add in the minimum contract of Alfonzo McKinnie in a larger deal, that is still limited options on the trade market.

No one likely wants Bruno at this point (although I’m holding onto my property on Bruno Island as it sinks around me…I still have some stupid hope left), and Bebe likely can’t return a player who can earn minutes this year.

Which leaves us with Jonas, the man who has been available by trade for over a year.  He has been openly shopped with no takers.  The market for a centre like Jonas is almost non-existent, and those trades that do happen involving centres and typically just a swap of two centres that are unwanted on their current team.

Overall, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  If Jonas is to be moved another centre likely needs to come back if only for spot minutes or to provide a different look from Poeltl and Ibaka.

While he certainly has his faults, trading Jonas isn’t an automatic gain though.  He provides effecient scoring in the post, is a capable free throw shooter for his size, and is one of the league’s better rebounders.  For all his warts, Jonas still finds ways to contribute and would be missed if he were sent away.

Trade season may be unofficially starting on Friday, and will ramp up in late January as the February 8th Trade Deadline fast approaches, but Toronto appears highly likely to sit this one out.  This team is who we are.

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