The Toronto Raptors may not end up with Kevin Durant when all of the dust settles after his trade request, but it won’t be from a lack of trying. Masai Ujiri has ensured that Toronto is consistently mentioned as a landing spot as the trade saga rages on.
Toronto’s chances, however slim they may be, improved slightly on Thursday night, as the Phoenix Suns matched Deandre Ayton’s restricted free agency offer sheet. Now unable to be traded until January 15, Durant’s alleged preferred destination has lost its best trade chip.
The Warriors have been mentioned, but no one believes that reunion is seriously happening. With the Heat unable to flip Bam Adebayo to Brooklyn, Miami might not have the collection of assets needed to entice the Nets. That’s where the Raptors could slide in.
While other contenders might be desperate to make the KD trade to go for broke this season, the Raptors appear more than content to sit back and avoid hastily throwing in some of their more prized players. Brooklyn may not realize it, but Toronto is playing this expertly.
The Toronto Raptors could win out in the Kevin Durant sweepstakes.
While a package of OG Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr, and large amounts of draft control might not seem like the world-shattering package that Brooklyn wants, but every team that could give the Nets an eye-watering haul is slowly dropping out of the race. Toronto may be one of just a few teams left standing.
Brooklyn is likely preying on the desperation of some of the other teams in the hunt. The lure of KD might be so intoxicating for teams like Miami and Phoenix that they end up giving Brooklyn that extra pick or player that mortgages the future. The Raptors don’t have to do that.
Toronto is more than willing to continue letting Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes develop alongside Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam while Anunoby and Trent provide support on both ends. If Ujiri and Sean Marks get locked into a staring contest, it would take quite a reversal for Ujiri to blink first and concede.
Toronto is likely not going to trade for Durant, but their negotiation strategy is the best way to go about trying to strongarm Brooklyn. If the Nets eventually cave and take the best available deal, the Raptors will be waiting there. If Brooklyn holds out, Toronto can enter the season fully confident in their team.