The Toronto Raptors have made some crazy trades in the course of their franchise history, but once canceled swap with the Los Angeles Lakers could have been the most impactful non-Kawhi Leonard deal this club ever pulled off. It centered around Tracy McGrady before his formative NBA seasons.
McGrady was a huge risk coming out of high school, but Jerry West seemed to like the idea of pairing him with Kobe Bryant, who was fresh off his first NBA season. Lakers coach Del Harris told Marc Stein, formerly of the New York Times, that West had a move for McGrady lined up.
The reason this move never came to fruition was the late great Jerry Buss, who did not want to part ways with All-Star guard Eddie Jones. Eventually, Jones and Elden Campbell were traded to Charlotte for a package centered around a proven veteran in Glen Rice.
The ripple effects that would have come as a result of this trade would have been enormous. What would McGrady do alongside Bryant in their formative years? Would a ready-made scorer like Jones have been a better addition to the Raptors during Vince Carter’s first few years?
What if the Toronto Raptors traded Tracy McGrady to the Lakers?
McGrady was never going to reach his full potential in Toronto due to how much attention Carter garnered at such a young age. That could have thrown a wrench into LA’s contention plans, as he and Kobe likely would have butted heads. That Orlando breakout may not have happened if this trade came to fruition.
Jones averaged 18.0 points per game on 43/37/84 shooting splits while playing near-elite defense in Carter’s first four seasons in the league. While Toronto was a bit of a one-man band at times in this era, Carter would have had a ready-made secondary mate in those early playoff runs.
McGrady’s Raptors tenure was one of the most puzzling starts to a Hall of Fame career we have ever seen. It seemed like everyone knew he was going to be a star, but Butch Carter’s team just didn’t seem big enough for both of them. A move was necessary.
While McGrady would have been an odd fit alongside Bryant, that could have been the greatest team we’ve ever seen if the T-Mac we saw in Orlando broke out. With Jones and Carter ready to hit the ground running, perhaps the Raptors may have had a deeper run.