Apr 30, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;Toronto Raptors forward Landry Fields (2) talks to the Toronto Raptors mascot prior to game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs against the Brooklyn Nets at the Air Canada Centre. Toronto defeated Brooklyn 115-113. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Should Raptors bail on this year's draft?

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Mar 21, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Denver Nuggets center J.J. Hickson (7) brings the ball up court during the second half against the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Center. Hickson leads his team with 18 points but leaves the game in the fourth quarter. The Mavericks defeated the Nuggets 122-106. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors are not in the NBA’s draft lottery for the first time in six seasons. I ain’t complainin’ – faithful readers know I detested the concept of tanking, and I’m happy beyond words that our team enjoyed such an extraordinary season. But success comes at a price. Our pick is #20, and history informs us that there aren’t many studs left on the board at that number. Players selected #20 who I can confidently say aren’t going to Springfield’s Basketball Hall of Fame include Alexis Ajinca (2008), Renaldo Balkman (2006), Speedy Claxton (2000), and Paul Grant (1997). The best picks were Jameer Nelson (2004) and Zydrunas Ilgauskas (1996).

While I have great admiration for Masai Ujiri, expecting him to find a quality player even in a deep draft like this one is too much to ask. I’d rather get creative. The pick has value, but perhaps for someone else more than the Raps. How about we package it with Landry Fields’ expiring contract and find a team piling up the picks? Philadelphia and Milwaukee are both more than 2 seasons away from contention, and might be interested in our selection as they rebuild. Would Masai’s old team, the Denver Nuggets, go for a deal like this? They might, given what a disappointing season they endured. The Nuggets may be in a mood to jettison some people, in a change for change’s sake move. We could use J.J. Hickson to shore up our front court. Fields and our pick go the other way, and no money need accompany the deal; the salary cap needle barely moves either way.

This trade is one of many possibilities we could consider. The key point is to recognize that we’re probably young enough as a team, and adding a veteran at the cost of a late draft pick (and Fields too, for whatever he’s worth at this point) is a worthy exchange.

What do you think, Rapture Nation? Do you concur with my premise about being open to trading our pick? Let me know your thoughts, and any trade possibilities, in the Comments.

 

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