You know what’s fun? Scavenging the NBA’s expiring contract list like an Instagram model looking for the perfect filter. Well, it’s fun for me. In anticipation of tomorrow’s trade deadline I’ve run through a few possibilities the Raptors could look at in an effort to bolster their playoff rotation on their quest for a title. Here are some gentlemen looking for work this summer that will help the Raptors win in June:
Raptors get: Nikola Mirotic
Pelicans get: Delon Wright, CJ Miles, 2020 2nd round pick
In what would fill one of the only areas of need for this Toronto Raptors team, the rental of Nikola Mirotic brings the Raps a serious deep threat who has played in several playoff series. With or without that beard, Mirotic is a player opposing defences must pay mind to during the playoffs, and could prove to be a big contributor to opening up lanes for Kawhi, Lowry and Siakam to work their magic.
A dirty little secret — Mirotic is also actually an above average defender for his skillset. The Croatian Marksman ranks 13th in defensive rating among NBA players with a True Shooting percentage of 59%, and 25+ minutes a night. He can hold his own on the defensive side of the ball and wouldn’t be run off the court by Eastern Conference playoff opposition.
The Pelicans are reportedly shopping Mirotic and Randle ahead of the 3pm deadline, and seemed to have shelved AD for the time being, indicating they have their finger on the reset button. Taking back a young talent like Wright may present itself as an attractive option for a rebuilding team. The Pelicans will be able to keep him long term if they so choose, as Wright is a Restricted Free agent this summer.
Raptors faithful might fret over losing a player who’s shown so much potential lately, but if we’re serious about competing for a championship, rotation shortages will likely force Wright to the bench for 90% of contests past April.
Raptors get: Enes Kanter
Knicks get: Norman Powell, CJ Miles, 2020 2nd round pick
With all this chat about how the Raptors will cope if one of their key bigs cant stay healthy for playoffs, leaving the fate of our basket protection to Greg Monroe – how much would it take for Masai to fleece James Dolan one last time?
Kanter’s game may not necessarily be suited for today’s NBA – but there are matchups the Raptors could face en route to the finals, that might require his skillset. I don’t particularly want to see one second of Greg Monroe attempting to stop or score on Brook Lopez, Al Horford or (gulp) Joel Embid. Kanter is by no means an All-NBA caliber defender, but he does rank in the top 12 in defensive rating of players with over 40 appearances this season.
While Norm has found his groove as of late, his contract is still far too large for what he brings to the table. At 8 million dollars a year, Powell’s skillset likely is not worth the financial burden holds on this team. Kanter allows the Raptors to add one more situation-specific weapon to their arsenal for the playoffs, and would decrease the likelihood of Joel Embiid haunting your dreams all summer long.
Raptors get: Jamychal Green
Grizzlies get: CJ Miles, 2021 top 20 protected 1st round pick
A lesser-known name to Non-NBA nerds out there, but Jamychal Green is one productive ball player who could definitely see minutes for for an Eastern Conference Finals playoff rotation. In what may be the most attractive thing about all these proposed offers – he comes cheap.
Luckily for the party on the receiving end of a Green trade, his salary far from reflects the value he brings to a basketball team. Green is the prototypical modern bench 4, with the ability to switch 5 through 2, play around the perimeter and move swiftly for a man of his size. He would offer the Raptors the flexibility to run out a small ball line up with Green at the 5, that wouldn’t sacrifice shooting or defensive flexibility.
Green is in the midst of a career year, on one garbage dump of a team. The 5th year forward is posting career highs of points, steals, blocks, threes while shooting the ball at 40% from 3. Yes he’s 6-9’ and 230lbs.
It would fit the profile of a sneaky good add for Masai that not too many other teams are considering. If Memphis likes the sound of a 2021 pick and the Go-Daddy Curse, this is a deal the Raps should look hard at.
Raptors get: Nikola Vucevic, Jerani Grant
Magic get: Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright, 2021 top 20 protected 1st round pick
The Availability of Vuc all hinges on Orlando’s plan’s for Bamba and Issac. If they’re serious about developing their young tandem of big men, it would be a strange decision to resign Vucevic to the very large contract he has earned with his stellar play this season. If they’re going to let him walk, it would be foolish not to test the market.
In exchange for the Serbian big man, the Raptors could offer back Jonas Valanciunas, and a promising young guard with as much potential as he’s got length in Delon Wright. Orlando’s point guard rotation has become something of a joke in NBA circles over recent years. Wright would provide them with a promising young piece who showed flashes of brilliance last season while running the point amid Lowry’s injuries.
Letting go of two long time Raptors for what could end up just being a rental might seem perplexing to Toronto fans. But Nikola Vucecvic is really damn good. This season he’s playing the best basketball of his career, posting highs of 20.6 points, 12 boards, 3 assists while shooting the ball at a 38% clip from 3. He fits the bill for what the Raptors are looking for — a stretch 5 who can stay in front of opposing bigs. With a career high blocks (1.1) and defensive box plus/minus, Vuc is flipping the narrative that once labeled him as a defensive liability.
Another sneaky secret about the low maintenance center? He’s a stellar passer out out of the pick and roll which would likely open up shots for the Raptors other stars and marksmen. Vuc is contributing in a big way this season on both sides of the ball. This move would position the Raps with 3 undisputed all stars in their starting five, without rocking the boat too much.