The NBA season may have tipped-off, but the rumour mill is still rolling with the Toronto Raptors being reported as an active contender for James Harden.
It is no secret that James Harden wants out of Houston. The Toronto Raptors have had some buzz in the Harden sweepstakes lately and have even been rumoured as a current favourite to land the superstar guard. There have been many potential trades floated around that the Raptors and Rockets could work out.
Two names that have come up quite often and understandably are Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. Both are now locked into long-term deals with OG recently getting a massive pay raise in what is also a great contract for the Toronto Raptors.
The Toronto Raptors are as thin as they’ve ever been at a frontcourt that has been dwindling in efficiency and talent since Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors won the NBA Championship. If Siakam or Anunoby was to be traded with no frontcourt depth coming in return, we’d be talking a guy like DeAndre’ Bembry would have to start eating big minutes. Norman Powell can slide into a small forward role and Chris Boucher can play down into a power forward spot but neither is ideal for a ‘contending’ team.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Toronto Raptors backcourt is as deep as it’s ever been. James Harden coming in would push either Kyle Lowry or Fred VanVleet to the bench which makes absolutely zero sense and I assume would be a non-starter for either of those two players.
If Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster are truly kicking the tires on James Harden, they have to try and make either Lowry or VanVleet the centrepiece of the deal. (Fred VanVleet cannot be traded until late February). Both are great talents and would certainly have to be considered by a Rockets organization that is by no means out of the playoff conversation.
If the Rockets will only look at offers including Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby, the Toronto Raptors have to ask for frontcourt players to come back with Harden. Reuniting with P.J. Tucker would be an interesting idea. Even at that, the frontcourt would remain frighteningly thin.
The Toronto Raptors are a team that works in the shadows and will never be a front office that leaks information. Like the Leonard deal, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Raptors were to swoop in and shock the NBA world again. But if they do, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby have to be seen as untouchable. They don’t have the frontcourt depth to lose one of those two core players.
That is unless the Rockets offer a deal the Toronto Raptors can’t refuse. In Masai we trust.