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Rumor Roundup: Raptors may not have called on pricey Morris; Gibson, Young, and more

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All-Star Weekend is over and it gave the basketball world nearly a full day to rest, recover, appreciate Kendrick Lamar, and complain about Meghan Trainor (seriously, how did Courtney Barnett not win?). The Pitbull fire that closed the Grammys on Monday night lit the first WojBomb of Trade Deadline Week, and while it went off with a whimper, by the morning there were a few Raptors nuggets to pass along.

Markieff Morris could be quite expensive
Those hoping that the Phoenix Suns may have a low asking price for the mercurial Morris, whom they’d reportedly like to unload and who would love to be unloaded, had their bubble burst a bit. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical reports that the Suns are “motivated” to move Morris but, logically, could hold onto him into the offseason, when teams may be more willing to play with a chemistry experiment and when his contract will look even better.

While the Suns have “no intention of bringing him back next season,” rumblings suggest the Suns may not deal him unless they can bring back “a player of value with a first-round pick.” It may have to be a good pick, too, as the Suns are already flush with draft assets.

Whether Patrick Patterson would count as a “player of value” is unclear, but he’s the same age as Morris and has a comparably discounted contract, though he doesn’t have quite the talent (he does, however, have a much more reasonable head on his shoulders).

The Raptors may not be interested, anyway
Here’s your daily reminder for the week that anything you hear about the Raptors is coming from an opposing team or an interested agent, as general manager Masai Ujiri runs the tightest of ships. That Morris-to-Toronto rumor? Probably from Morris’ agent looking to drive up the price point to better facilitate a deal out of the desert.

To wit, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star, says he’s “told by people I trust that Masai has never spoken to the Suns about him.” Those same people told the same thing to Woj.

So, OK. Stop this talk, I guess.

All of the lights
Also from Smith’s piece is a disappointing note about the awesome theater-style lighting that the ACC donned this weekend for All-Star festivities. Here he is:

Not going to happen for the rest of this season, I’m afraid.

The lighting was temporary, installed for and by the NBA for those three days and it’s gone now. It can’t be used regularly without a total retrofit of the system – prohibitively costly, I’m told – because it interferes with the current rigging for concert lighting and sound. Too bad.

That’s terribly disappointing. The Maple Leafs and concerts complicate things, but this should be an offseason priority for the organization. My camera sucks, but look how awesome this is:

Kyle Lowry in the 3-Point Shootout.

A photo posted by Blake Murphy (@eblakemurphy) on

Return of Bargs?
One thing I’ve been asked a lot is whether the Raptors will make a post-deadline move, failing a deadline trade. The answer is, of course, maybe. If Thursday passes without a move, it makes sense to cut Anthony Bennett, make him an in-season D-League affiliate player, and use that roster spot on someone who may actually have some NBA utility down the stretch. Who that may be is up in the air, though, as we don’t yet know who will be bought out in the Feb. 18-March 1 buyout period.

But hold on to your butts.

Woj suggests that along with David Lee and J.J. Hickson, Andrea Bargnani is a strong buyout candidate. This team could use some additional frontcourt shooting, right? RIGHT?

Thad Young available, price could be steep
Staying on the Nets, Frank Isola of New York Daily News doubled down on an earlier Brian Windhorst report that Young could be available, and he highlights the Raptors as a potential fit. From Isola:

One scenario has Young being moved to Toronto for a package that could include Patrick Patterson and point guard Delon Wright. The Nets may want a first round pick and Toronto just happens to own the Knicks 2016 first round pick.

Again, it’s Patterson-plus, and as we’ve discussed often here, that’s going to be the proposed framework in most power forward upgrade scenarios.

Zach Lowe notes
The incomparable Lowe dropped a pre-trade deadline piece at ESPN today and there are a few notes of interest to Raptors fans:

  • He talks about Dwight Howard without mentioning the Raptors at all (he had previously tweeted there was no interest from Toronto).
  • He talks about Ryan Anderson without mentioning the Raptors.
  • He mentions some teams believe the cap could rise to $92M next season, higher than the $89-90M estimate we’ve been working with
  • He points out that Al Horford is expected to value a potential fifth year on a deal in free agency very highly. In other words, acquiring his Bird rights by trading for him at the deadline may be a team’s best chance at signing him this offseason. But: “Wes Wilcox, Atlanta’s GM, is asking teams to “wow” him, sources say, and no one is biting.”

And the big one…
Lowe’s biggest Raptors-related note comes here:

The Bulls may also want quality rotation guys instead of future assets; they’ve pitched Toronto on a Taj Gibson-Patrick Patterson swap that would give them a stretch power forward with another season left on a tidy contract — and trim their tax bill.

At the same time, “A lot of signs in Drakeville point to stasis for the clear No. 2 team in the East,” something I’ve mentioned on recent podcast/radio appearances and have written about basically all year long. There just aren’t a lot of obvious all-in moves, given Toronto’s salary structure. I also agree with Lowe (and most around here) that the time is right for an aggressive move if one presents itself, and Lowe says the Raptors would have a “good chance” of re-signing Horford if that’s the move they make.

None of this is anything we haven’t talked about before, save for the Gibson idea; it’s just really nice to read that Lowe assesses things similarly.

A Gibson-Patterson swap would help the defense out – Patterson’s been great, but Gibson is even better – at the cost of spacing. Gibson and DeRozan are teammates from their USC days and Gibson seems like a great locker room guy, but Patterson’s important to what the Raptors do and the organization really likes him. This is a tough one.

Mailbag tomorrow
You have to tweet me. I’m not wading through the comments section, sorry. It’s way too hard to find things later.

Throw in some cash considerations
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