This should make a lot of fans happy.
The Toronto Raptors have been “aggressive” on the trade front, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst told TSN 1050 on Friday. That backs up what his colleague Marc Stein reported earlier in the week, saying the Raptors were showing interest in P.J. Tucker and in Markieff Morris. Windhorst doesn’t mention Tucker but does identify Morris as a potential target along with Thad Young and Kenneth Faried.
I think the Raptors are in a position to go for it…I think they’re gonna go for it. From what I understand, from what I’m hearing, they’re pretty aggressive in the trade market. They’re looking for power forwards. I’ve heard them attached to Thaddeus Young, I’ve heard them attached to Kenneth Faried, I’ve heard them attached to Markieff Morris.
They have extra draft picks. I wouldn’t trade that New York Knicks pick unless it was for a blockbuster acquisition, because you can’t protect it…They have assets to do it. They have some young players. The power forward’s what they’re looking at.
That’s not exactly the hardest of reports, and it’s worth keeping in mind that Windhorst isn’t in the top tier of most-trusted reporters. He gets his Cavaliers and Heat stuff, but he’s a second-tier source come deadline season. (This isn’t meant to disparage him – he’s worked hard to get where he is and is a really solid beat guy, it’s just necessary to understand the reporting hierarchy this time of year.)
It’s also paramount to remember that the Raptors under Masai Ujiri have been the tightest of ships. That means that anything Windhorst is hearing is coming from the other teams involved, or the agents of the players if they’re in situations where they’d like to move (Morris, though all three players in this case are represented by different agencies). I have a theory that teams and agents could use the Raptors as a leverage team because they’re so quiet, knowing it will be difficult to be proven wrong (the Jays have run into this some, where they’re always tied to everybody, though it’s also possible Toronto GMs are actually exploring everyone because it’s their jobs). In other words, take this with a grain of salt, as sources could be floating the Raptors because there’s real interest or because it can inflate the market and nobody from the Raptors is going to say anything to shoot it down.
We covered off Morris a great deal Wednesday, so I’ll direct you there for analysis.
Young is someone I was asked about in a recent mailbag, and I’m a little skeptical he’s on the market. The Nets don’t even have a GM yet to handle such a move, and Young and Brook Lopez have talked openly about working as recruiters to leverage the team’s substantial (if unimpressive, relative to the market) cap space this summer. It doesn’t behoove the Nets to do a proper tear down since they have no prospects and are so low on picks (they don’t own their own this season), so a team is going to have to come correct with at least a first-round pick to pry him. On top of that, Young makes $11.2 million this season, so matching salaries becomes difficult without shipping out Patrick Patterson. A trade of Luis Scola, James Johnson, Delon Wright, and Anthony Bennett works under the cap, if you really don’t want to lose Patterson, but then you’re thinning out the roster and still sending out at least one really good pick.
If he could be acquired, Young would provide a nice interim option at the three who could slide to the four when DeMarre Carroll returns. He’s averaging 15 points, nine rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.5 steals for the Nets this year, shooting 50.8 percent from the floor. The primary offensive concern would be that Young is a 32-percent career 3-point shooter and hasn’t hit better than 33 percent since 2009-10, limiting his utility as a floor-spacer alongside Jonas Valanciunas. His strong rebounding this season is also a major aberation from his career rates. He brings other offensive talents, though, with the speed to take opposing fours of the bounce and finish in traffic. He’s not a great interior defender, but he brings some toughness and quickness on that end. Young has three years left on his deal at about $12.9 million per-year, but I don’t think that’s an impediment to a potential deal.
Faried’s a name that’s come up in Toronto several times, in large part because he’s seen as a Ujiri guy. What he’s not, however, is a natural fit with the Raptors. He has a nearly identical contract to Young and would require the same kind of package to pry him free. You can make a case for the Raptors surrendering assets to get him – friend of the site Justin Rowan did a good job of just that this week, though I largely disagree with the final proposal – and at age 26, he fits nicely in line with the peaks of DeMar DeRozan (the middle) and Kyle Lowry (slightly further than the middle). He could help now and over the next couple of years, and that’s great.
What’s not great is hit fit. He’s even less of a 3-point threat than Young, and while he’s a terrific rebounder, he doesn’t fit the team’s primary need for a four who can add offense in a way that takes some pressure off of Lowry and DeRozan. Faried’s an opportunity scorer, and to be fair, he’s very good in that role, a role that teams can always use. But he doesn’t create for himself particularly well, and while he’s a high-energy player who’s always a threat to block a shot, he’s hardly an elite defender. He’s averaging 12.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, and one block while shooting 54.3 percent from the floor this year, pretty much in line with where he established himself as a rookie in 2011-12.
Not that he hasn’t improved, but Nylon Calculus‘ experimental “opponent matchup” numbers rate him as one of the worst defenders in the league, Real Plus-Minus barely sees him as moving the needle at either end (Nylon Calculus’ DRE sees him as a slight positive), and the Nuggets have been 3.2 points per-100 possessions better with him on the bench, the second time in three years he’s had a negative impact through that lens.
The most interesting part of adding Faried would be how he might look as a small-five when the Raptors shift Carroll to the four and play an extra point guard or wing. The Raptors may be able to get more out of Faried than Denver has, though Faried playing mostly alongside traditional bigs doesn’t leave much room for optimism that he’d suddenly unlock some sort of synergy with the Lithuanian big man.
In any case, it’s fun to think on these things. Making the (incorrect) assumption the asking price would be the same on all three, how would you rank them as targets?