The Toronto Raptors may have thought that the decision to go into the season with Khem Birch as perhaps the only traditional center on this team would’ve helped birth an ironclad, positionless defense, but that vision has not materialized just yet. If Masai Ujiri wants to make a trade to improve this team, could he add Houston Rockets big Daniel Theis?
Theis was a thorn in Toronto’s side for years as a member of the Celtics, as the German big man proved to be capable of holding his own against some of the best offensive paint presences in the game. Theis was traded to the Bulls last year, but he had some solid showings in Chicago. He recorded a double-double against the Raptors last year.
Toronto chose not to pursue him this offseason, which led to him signing a four-year contract in Houston worth slightly under $9 million per season. However, with Houston likely eyeing another shot at the No. 1 pick, Theis could be on the move in trade talks.
According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Theis may end up receiving “mild trade interest from teams in need of a steady veteran backup.” If there is any playoff contender in the NBA that could use a veteran with rebounding and defensive skills, it’s the shorthanded Raptors. Should this deal be consummated?
Toronto Raptors rumors: Should Masai Ujiri try to get Daniel Theis?
Theis is averaging 8.6 points per game on 48% shooting to go along with 4.7 rebounds and 0.5 blocks per game. Stephen Silas has helped Theis expand his range out past the 3-point line, which has helped him make 30% of his attempts from deep this year.
Even though Birch isn’t the most dynamic player in the world, it’s clear that this team is much worse whenever he is incapacitated due to injury. Theis might not be as athletic as someone like Precious Achiuwa, but he was a rock-solid role player for years on some excellent Boston teams, and he’d fill a need for Toronto.
However, there are some issues when it comes to acquiring Theis. Outside of the declining Chris Boucher, Toronto may find it hard to cobble together enough assets to make this deal and remain under the luxury tax.
Theis has also been outplayed on offense by rookie Alperen Sengun. The Rockets went on a pitiful 15-game losing streak, but they won their last two games against the Bulls and Hornets without Theis in the lineup.
Theis should not be the first name Toronto thinks of if they want to explore trading for a big man. That contract may prove to be too cumbersome for someone who may not move the needle on the offensive end.
However, if some of the elite options are off the market and Houston is still willing to sell, Toronto may need to revisit the idea of trading some assets to acquire Theis. At the very least, he’ll provide the rebounding and interior post play that this roster desperately needs.