The Toronto Raptors are unlikely to make a move before the trade deadline

Toronto Raptors - Masai Ujiri (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Masai Ujiri (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Masai Ujiri (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Fans waiting for the Toronto Raptors to make a big splash at the trade deadline are likely to be left disappointed.

The NBA trade deadline is February 7th. It is less than a month away. The Toronto Raptors may be interested in upgrading their personnel. But anything more than a minor tweak to the back end of the roster may be too difficult.

On January 10th, the Raptors signed free agent guard, Patrick McCaw. The Raptors are McCaw’s third team in less than a month. The Cleveland Cavaliers were being investigated for possible salary-cap circumvention. The NBA concluded there was no violation. Regardless, McCaw decided to join The North.

McCaw is an intriguing prospect. He is a combo guard, who measured 6-foot-6.75 (in shoes) with a 6-foot-10 wingspan at the NBA Draft Combine. McCaw worked out for the Raptors prior to the 2016 NBA draft. He was ultimately selected 38th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks, before being traded to the Golden State Warriors.

It remains to be seen if McCaw can earn a spot in the Raptors’ rotation. He is a solid addition but is unlikely to be a difference maker when the playoffs come around. McCaw’s addition is more about planning for the future.  He is only 23 years old and is the type of versatile player the Raptors like to have.

Fans are likely hoping that the Raptors make at least one more move. Fake trades are a lot of fun. But coming up with a trade that works is not so simple. It must make sense for both sides. And the Raptors don’t have much in the way of expendable assets.

Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry are off limits.

Any trade for a starter-caliber player starts with one of OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam. The problem is both players are still on their rookie contracts and have a low cap figure ($1.9 million and $1.5 million, respectively). As a result, more contracts need to be added for matching purposes.

The two contracts that are the easiest to include in a potential trade are Serge Ibaka ($21.7 million) and Jonas Valanciunas ($16.5 million). Most teams aren’t looking to add a centre. As such, Ibaka and Valanciunas mean more to the Raptors than they would for another team.

Beyond that, the Raptors have Danny Green ($10 million), Norman Powell ($9.4 million) and C.J. Miles ($8.3 million). Green has played an important role for the Raptors this season. He is also good friends with Leonard. Trading him risks alienating Leonard.

Powell is in the first year of his four-year, $42 million contract. Finding a trade partner that wants to take on his contract without a sweetener won’t be easy.

Miles has been awful this season. He is averaging 4.7 points per game while shooting 27.3 percent from three-point range. Miles has an $8.7 million player option for next season. Raptors management is likely praying he declines it.

The Raptors can also look to trade a first-round pick, but those picks don’t project to be that valuable. The Raptors sent their 2019 pick to San Antonio as part of the Leonard trade. Teams are not allowed to trade picks in consecutive years. As such, the first pick the Raptors can send out is 2021.

Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster are constantly exploring ways to upgrade the roster. However, the trade deadline is expected to be quiet this year.