The Raptors 2016-2017 Roster Spot Dilemma: Part 2


Here’s some trade thoughts to push the Raptors into the realm of championship contenders.

In order to improve this offseason, it is very likely that the Toronto Raptors will have to pursue a trade. This is largely due to the lack of flexibility they have in terms of roster spots and the limited cap space they will have, especially if they resign DeMar DeRozan. In trying to determine who the Raptors should pursue on the trade market this upcoming offseason, it is critical to determine what timeline Raptors’ management sets for trying to win a title. If the current team is able to reach the Conference Finals and actually compete with the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Raptors may try to take the final step this offseason. If, however, the Raptors again falter in the first round (or possibly second, depending on their performance) Raptors management may decide that taking a slightly longer term approach is more appropriate. If the Raptors want to win now they would clearly pursue different players than if their goal is to win in the next 2-4 years.

Win Now

If the Raptors do decide to try to win now, they will be looking for an established power forward who is a cut above players like Markieff Morris or Thaddeus Young. This potential target would need to defend at a relatively strong level, as well as have the ability to space the floor to fit into the Raptors offence. I believe that the player the Toronto Raptors should target is Serge Ibaka of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

As of right now targeting Ibaka does not really seem like a realistic goal, however this could certainly change by this offseason. If Kevin Durant decides to not resign with OKC, the Thunder’s entire strategy will change dramatically. If Durant were to leave it would be unlikely that Russell Westbrook would resign the following summer, and Thunder GM Sam Presti would probably realize that. With the departure of Durant and the impending departure of Westbrook, the Thunder would need to begin a rebuild, and this could start with the trading of Serge Ibaka. Ibaka is a top 40 player in Defensive Win Shares, and consistently can hit shots from beyond the arc. He would directly slide into the Raptors starting lineup, and would be an upgrade over both Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson.

In order to acquire Ibaka, it is likely that the Raptors would need to offer Patterson as a direct replacement for Ibaka, as well as a young, attractive assets like the 1st rounders the Raptors have this year or Terrence Ross. A deal like the one below would potentially be enough to bring Serge Ibaka north of the border, and would fit within the cap constraints both teams currently face.

2-4 Years 

If the Raptors decide to take a longer term approach to winning in the NBA playoffs, they will need to target a young big man to replace Luis Scola’s offensive production, and specifically his ability to stretch opposing defenses out with the 3-point shot. There are currently not many big man options in the draft that are projected to shoot at a high rate from outside once they are in the NBA, so it will be necessary to attempt to address the loss of Scola through a trade. A player who has the ability to shoot from outside that the Raptors should consider pursuing is the Boston Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk.

Trading within the Atlantic Division would not be an easy task for Masai Ujiri, but the Celtics currently have a logjam in their front court, and could certainly gain from moving one of their big men. Of these bigs, the Canadian centre should be the clear target for the Raptors. Olynyk is currently playing around 20 minutes per game, but he has proven his ability to shoot from outside in this limited amount of time. Olynyk has also been a surprisingly effective defensive player with a 1.7 Defensive Win Share this season. Other aspects of his game will continue to develop over time, but the Raptors really need that stretch offense from whatever big they target this offseason.

In order to acquire Olynyk and create roster spot flexibility the Raptors would likely need to give up one of their current young players (Caboclo, Nogueira, Wright or Powell) as well as one of their first round draft picks in this years draft. For the sake of the evaluating the cap implications Bruno Caboclo was included in the trade below, but this part of the offer would depend on the Celtics’ interest in each of these players. Additionally, the less attractive of the two picks, the Raptors own, would be inlcuded.

The Toronto Raptors will likely need to make a trade of some sort to improve this offseason and replace Luis Scola. The two outlined trades above, depending on the timeline Masai Ujiri decides on, should set the Raptors in the right direction in their pursuit of an NBA Championship.