Note: This is an updated version of a piece that ran on deadline day last year.
Four years ago, new Toronto Raptors general manager shocked the world at the NBA’s trade deadline.
Not by making a big move – he’d done his major work earlier in the season – but by actually getting the San Antonio Spurs to engage in deadline activities, a bit of a rarity. The deal was a minor one, with the Raptors flipping Austin “Bars for Dayes” Daye for Nando de Colo. It was mostly meaningless, with Daye later sent to Atlanta (and now Italy) and de Colo playing 21 games before heading overseas (the Raptors still own his rights in restricted free agency).
That type of move is par for the course for the Raptors, as the franchise has rarely made a splash at the buzzer.
Isiah Thomas – 1996-98 deadlines
1996: Raptors trade Tony Massenburg, Ed Pinckney, two second-round picks, and the right to swap first-round picks (or receive a third second-rounder) to Philadelphia for Sharone Wright.
The Raptors’ first deadline is a pretty boring one. The 6-foot-11 Wright would play 78 games with the team over parts of three seasons but never sniffed the 16.5-and-5.2 he averaged down the stretch for Toronto that year. Massenburg lasted in the league forever as a decent role player, while Pinckney played just 54 games after the trade.
Those picks, meanwhile, never turned into much, though trading three seconds in your expansion season for someone who ends up being nothing is a bad look.
1997: Raptors trade Acie Earl to Milwaukee for Shawn Respert
A pleasant expansion-season surprise, the Raptors sold at the right time, flipping nine games of Earl for…OK, well Respert wasn’t much, either. He played in 74 games as a reserve guard before getting flipped to Dallas.
Glen Grunwald – 1999-2004 deadlines
2001: Raptors trade Muggsy Bogues and Mark Jackson to New York for Chris Childs and a first-round pick; Raptors trade Tyrone Corbin, Kornel David, Corliss Williamson, and a first-round pick to Detroit for Jerome Williams and Eric Montross
Now we’re talking! Sending out the affable Bogues, Big Nasty, two future head coaches, and a pick that would become forever-stashed Fran Vasquez hurts, but Childs and JYD would play major parts in Raptors’ history. The pick they acquired would become Kareem Rush, too, which helped land Lindsey Hunter the following summer.
So…cool? I don’t know, you got Williams and The Guy Who Shot Too Early for a 36-year-old who never played again, a veteran who was blocking Alvin Williams, and the Big Nasty. That’s probably a steep price, but it would help the Raptors win a playoff series for the only time in franchise history. Can you really complain, in that case? Plus, Williams used his parts of four seasons to become one of the most beloved Raptors ever and was then flipped in a deal for Donyell Marshall and Jalen Rose.
Let’s hope for this kind of chaos and a similarly historic playoff run this year.
Rob Babcock – 2005 deadline
2005: Nothing, you coward
Wayne Embry – 2006 deadline
2006: Nothing, because, well, no GM hurts
Bryan Colangelo – 2007-2013 deadlines
2007: Raptors trade Fred Jones to Portland for Juan Dixon
Nobody has ever sold themselves on a deal like your boy sold himself on this one. The Raptors cashed in the former Dunk Contest champion after just half a season, during which he shot under 40 percent, couldn’t hit threes, and didn’t pass. In return, they got a former would-be rising star who had declined some.
Dixon rediscovered some fire down the stretch, averaging 11.1 points in 26.3 minutes but fell out of the rotation the next season, leading to…
2008: Raptors trade Juan Dixon to Detroit for Primoz Brezec
OK, I lied. I sold myself way harder on this deal because “Gangster” was one of my favorite non-prospects. Already 28 and on his fourth team when he landed in Toronto, he averaged 3.7 points and 1.4 rebounds over 13 games before heading overseas. Dixon finished out the season and one more as an inefficient bench scorer.
2009: Raptors sell Will Solomon to Sacramento; Raptors acquire Patrick O’Bryant from Boston for a second-round pick
I hated Solomon with a fiery passion after several friends sold themselves on a one-game outburst early in his first year with the team. So getting rid of him alone was worthwhile. Picking up POB for a season-and-a-half for a pick that never conveyed? Sure, why not. He totaled 80 points and 43 rebounds over 24 appearances with the team and was playing in the Philippines at last update.
2012: Raptors trade Leandro Barbosa to Indiana for a second-round pick; Raptors waive Anthony Carter
Shipping Barbosa out made plenty of sense. It was a lost season, the Raptors were not-so-subtly tanking, and the 29-year-old was freed to contend, a nice look from the organization’s perspective. Getting a late back that became Tomislav Zubcic, which later became Luke Ridnour’s Non-Guaranteed Contract, got them something out of the deal. It also freed Ben Uzoh for his triple-double.
Carter, who was as old as sin and an inexplicable mid-season signing, also got the ax. He had played 24 games with the team, taking up a spot that could have been used on a young lottery ticket like Ben Uzoh.
2013: Raptors trade Hamed Haddadi and a second-round pick to Phoenix for Sebastian Telfair
Having just acquired Haddadi in the three-team Rudy Gay deal but never playing him due to reported immigration issues, the Raptors attached a pick to him to go Through the Fire. Hadaddi played 17 games with Phoenix before bowing out of the league, and the pick would go on to become Lamar Patterson.
Telfair, meanwhile, played 13 games down the stretch, averaging 4.3 points and three assists in 14.2 minutes. He’s somehow still just 30 and I remain convinced he’s one break away from being a legitimate star in this league.
Masai Ujiri – 2014-2015 deadlines
2014: Raptors trade Austin Daye to San Antonio for Nando de Colo
2017: Raptors trade a pair of second-round picks to Phoenix for P.J. Tucker
Ujiri bucked his usual avoidance of in-season deals with a pair of acquisitions around the deadline to shore up what the team hoped could be the best Raptors outfit ever. In landing P.J. Tucker, the Raptors solidified their defense and brought a tougher exterior to the team, which paid major dividends during a regular season stretch run where Kyle Lowry was injured and the Raptors won largely on their defensive chops. Come playoff time, Tucker went a bit underused despite his versatility on that end of the floor, and while the Raptors made him a tidy offer in free agency, he made the reasonable call to jump to Houston to compete with Golden State alongside some of his good friends.
The two seconds the Raptors gave up were their own in the upcoming 2018 draft and the No. 55 pick in the 2017 draft, which the Suns used to select sweet-shooting big-man Alec Peters. That’s a pretty small price for what Tucker brought, and it only has a lasting impact here because the Raptors also dealt two other 2018 picks this summer, leaving them without a pick in the upcoming draft.
# trades: 12
# players acquired: 11
# players sent: 14
# picks acquired: 2
# picks sent: 8
# of deals that mattered: 2