Toronto Raptors: Potential trades that make the Raptors Eastern Conference elites

James Harden (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
James Harden (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
3 of 4
Toronto Raptors
Lauri Markkanen against Norman Powell (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors need a productive big man.

The Toronto Raptors deleted Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol from the center position equation by offering them both one-year deals. Both players are now playing in Los Angeles for the Clippers and Lakers, respectively. It’s a loss of around 22 points and 15 rebounds per game.

In their place, management decided to acquire a pair of journeymen centers neither a legitimate starting center in Alex Len and Aron Baynes, at least not yet, and Baynes is 33 years old. The hope, it appears, is that a 27-year-old Chris Boucher, who is athletic and capable of making threes, will continue to develop into an integral part of the team, but he is undersized.

In the meantime, the Toronto Raptors rely heavily on Pascal Siakam to get downhill and attack the paint, an aspect of their offense that is lacking even with his immense skill. So another productive big man in the lineup would not hurt.

A deal with the Chicago Bulls could aid in this endeavor as seven-footer Lauri Markkanen is not expected to sign a contract extension with the Bulls. According to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago:

"“I think given that the new regime likely is viewing 2020-21 as a see-what-we’ve-got season, it’s more likely than not that no extension is reached. Then, you negotiate again in 2021, depending on how Markkanen fared. This strategy cost the Bulls a lot of money in the Jimmy Butler scenario. But it’s a good problem to have if a player with current question marks blossoms into a star — as Butler did and like Karnisovas hopes Markkanen can,”"

As it stands, Markkanen fits the Toronto Raptors style of play in that he can hit the three, shooting 35.6 percent for his career. He also provides size and rebounding, averaging 7.6 rebounds per game. While he may struggle on defense, it could be mitigated by making him Pascal Siakam’s backup limiting his minutes, and playing zone defense when he is on the floor.

A deal involving Terence Davis and Stanley Johnson plus a restricted first-rounder going to Chicago could land the Toronto Raptors an offensive big man they need. Chicago would get two expiring contracts, and the Toronto Raptors would assume about 1.4 million more in salary as Markkanen makes 6.7 million this year.

He will also be a restricted free agent if his rookie extension is not resolved by December 21st, 2020, meaning he is a potential expiring contract. The Raptors could bring Markkanen back should the scenario present itself according to plan if his play warrants it next summer.